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Taking Pong to The Next Level

November 4, 1999
Web posted at: 9:55 a.m. EST (1455 GMT)

by Nash Werner


(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.


  • Grab every power-up. If you don't, your opponent will. And in Pong: TNL, he who has the power-ups wins.

  • The computer is tough to beat. It'll always mimic your moves in attempts to block your ball. The simple way to counter this is to grab the ball, zig-zag up and down until he is a step behind you and then let the ball rip.

  • Bank shots are key. Practice their timing and trajectory and you'll be a tough opponent to beat.

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Preview: Pong (Playstation)
Review: Pac-Man World (Playstation)
Preview: Space Invaders (Playstation)
Preview: Q*Bert (Playstation)
Preview: Arcade Party Pak (Playstation)
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Pong: The Next Level game info
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