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title=World Cup Ping Pong
All of the thrills, adrenaline and drama of ping pong arrives on the iPhone, courtesy of Skyworks.
I’ve tried many sports — rugby, basketball, hockey, even lacrosse — and discovered that physical exertion is not my bag. I much prefer my Macbook Pro and a bowl of edamame for company any day. As a sport, ping pong is special though: it’s high-speed, it’s intense, it’s got a silly name, and it requires very little movement on my part.
Skyworks Ping Pong aims to capture the energy of the real thing, but requires even less physical exertion. The game features a single-player International tournament mode, polished graphics, online scoring and even single-device multiplayer.
Eye of the Tiger
World Cup Ping Pong has been given a dynamic, sporty design with each game playing out on a 3D table. For such a simple game, it’s incredibly polished. Yet, this polish is more akin to a a high-class video poker game than an iPhone app and, as such, the game feels somewhat lacking in character.
This feeling of emptiness, like there’s something missing, could also be attributed in part to the sound, or lack of. The menu and option screens are eerily silent, save for a few chirps on pressing buttons. In-game, there are two cheap ‘n generic dance tunes to choose from — worse still, they get repetitive quickly.
Aside from the gameplay, the classic ping pong sound is one of the most important components of a great ping pong game: that percussive smack of the ball being slapped across the table with a paddle. World Cup Ping Pong gets it exactly right, and, paired with the rhythm of the ball bouncing back and forth, makes for satisfying matches.
Bat & Ball
There are several different game modes to choose from. Players looking for a traditional competition experience will want to jump straight in to Tournament Mode. There’s a choice of teams, including the USA, Russia, Finland and Germany, and a choice of paddles, too.
Arcade Mode provides a more immediate entry point for jumping in to World Cup Ping Pong. With half the table propped up, Forrest Gump-style, you bash away at various targets, attempting to rack up a high score.
Totally unexpected was the Head to Head gameplay mode — with a birds-eye view of the table, you and a friend can both play simultaneously on one iPhone. It was an absolute treat, utterly at odds with Practice Mode. This final game-type had very little use: no lesson, no guidance, just a dry run of Tournament Mode.
Bat In Hand
Once you’ve selected either a Tournament or Arcade Mode, it’s time to choose your paddle. There are three to choose from, not only differing in color but also impacting your technique, in terms of energy and spin. Once you’ve made your choice and have a tight grip of your paddle, it’s time to start a match.
There are absolutely no buttons to learn and, as such, the controls are incredibly simple. Dragging your finger around the screen controls your paddle; serving is as simple as quickly swiping up. The major issue with this control method is that your finger may occasionally obscure the on-screen action.
Once you’ve grasped the basics, the game begins to have a little more depth. Mastering spinning the ball means matches become much more fun. However, the opponents occasionally feel a little too tough, and rallies become repetitive chores, devoid of the drama and pace of real ping pong.
At the end of a game, you’re invited to submit your score online to the global score board. Unfortunately, you’ll have to register and log-in first. Forced registration to access in-game features are loathsome — frequently a thinly veiled excuse to harvest e-mail addresses and rarely genuinely needed. In the case of World Cup Ping Pong, it’s not clear just why I have to register simply to submit my high-score online.
While World Cup Ping Pong isn’t necessarily awful, it just didn’t blow me away, either. The game is missing character and depth, the graphics and music lack charm, and the gameplay, while effective, just didn’t leave me wanting more.
This game certainly isn’t an outstanding pick from the App Store’s Game section; it’s just a fun little time-waster. Fans of the sport won’t find any depth relating to the real thing, but those looking for a quick-to-learn time-waster will certainly glean a little pleasure from this game.