Taking Pong to The Next Level
(IDG) -- Pong: The Next Level takes the paddle-and-ball game of old, adds 3D graphics, beefs up gameplay with special power-ups and goofy levels, and adds support for up to four players over the Internet or on the same machine.
It's fun, but not a must-have title.
Pong: TNL has 20 levels -- including a soccer pitch, a tropical beach, and the North Pole -- and about half a dozen secret bonus boards that range from a circus-clown see-saw, a pinball machine, and a "bounce the ball on a seal's head". And you can play "Classic" Pong.
It's set up like a console-style action/adventure in which the player travels from one level to the next, unlocking new levels on the way.
As in the original 1972 Atari coin-op, the game revolves around knocking the ball (or balls) past your opponent's paddle. Pong: TNL adds obstacles like spikes, conveyor belts, and killer penguins to spice things up, as well as power-ups like Whack (provides a powerful shot), Tilt (tilts the playing field of certain maps in your favor), Seal (calls forth a friendly seal to help you).
Multiplayer is a blast, provided you've unlocked all the levels. Whether it was two, three or four-player, I got a kick out of using the power-ups to thwart my opponents. You can even play co-operative multiplayer. And the connectivity/playability over the Internet is fantastic.
Sadly, Pong: TNL's audio isn't anything to write home about. The sound effects and music are very annoying -- they don't add anything to the Pong experience.
Pong: TNL is fun -- but not the kind of elaborate fun that will last you six months. It's more like a nifty stocking stuffer than a full-fledged present -- one that will keep you warm and nostalgic into January.
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