In the recent old game-new look surge that is going on in the video game world I don't think any game has captured the fun of the original while adding new gameplay elements as Pong. I think the reason that it comes off so well in the new version is the sheer simplicity of the original. Being that the game is so cut and dry (avoid missing the ball for big points) it lends itself to a whole lot of options.
When video games first became popular in the late 70's most everything was a version of Pong in one way or another. Everyone had a Pong-type system in their homes. So obviously there was something about the concept that was fun and appealing to the American public. Even with new 3D graphics, play options and personality the game still remains fun due to the simple concept that it is based on.
Pong is really just an electronic version of table tennis or air hockey. Bounce the ball off of your paddle and try to get it past the opponent. However in Pong for Playstation things are a lot more difficult. Each level has its own obstacles and style. On the first level two penguins walk back and forth across the playing field redirecting shots and farting out extra balls every time they are hit. There is also a soccer level, a hockey level, and other sports that have been turned into Pong sports.
The nice thing about making playing a new Pong game is that there is so much opportunity for the developers to be creative. Unlike their failed Centipede effort there is not much in the way of characters or style that the game has to remain loyal to. Basically the only characters are the paddles (which have wonderfully cute personalities in this new version) and the ball (which remains a ball). The other additions can basically be anything and the developers do a nice job of keeping the original fun element while adding a whole bunch of different types of gameplay. Many will even let you grab the ball, aim it and fire it back.
With up to four players available with a multi-tap, this can easily become the perfect party game. Since it was the game that originally invited people to play video games, it can easily be the perfect game for all of those game-skeptical people at a party. Many of the modes put players on teams, which would benefit those who are not that, skilled. The gameplay is quick and simple to learn and extremely fun and competitive. What more could you ask from a party game?
There are a lot of classic re-births out there right now. Most of them lose the fun of the original in return for better graphics and 3D environments. In trying to make them better the developers only make them worse. However, in the case of Pong I think the game is wonderfully resurrected and remains on of the most addictive and fun games in history.
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