Two paddles, one ball1. The most simple formula in gaming. A lot of indie developers that are just starting out probably start out with that very formula. It’s easy, but nowhere near ‘unique’. No matter what name you give your version, Pong is still Pong. You can add your own style of paddle, design the strangest ‘ball’ you want, Pong is still Pong. It’s a classic, yes, perhaps even the classic; the game that moved the goalposts forward and got us to where we are today. Yet, any way you want to slice it, Dark Duo‘s Impossiball ($1.00) is still Pong.
Well, Pong with ‘500 balls onscreen at once’ Pong, that is. Why so many balls? Because they can. Because we have the technology. Because subtlety is overrated. Impossiball‘s setup is nothing new; bare backgrounds, one paddle on each side of the screen (two can play locally, or there’s always the very clever AI), moving vertically, with you defending your end of the zone. Your paddle can also be angled, giving you some control over the ricochet, and how you’ll attack and / or defend. Again, nothing that hasn’t been seen before. Then there’s that whole ‘500 balls’ thing to start off each round.
As in Golf, your first swing makes all the difference, and determines how that particular round is going to end up. Ditto for Impossiball. The more balls you keep in play initially, the more pressure you put on your opponent to return that volley. Despite your best efforts, you’re going to miss quite a bit2, but that number naturally decreases as the match goes on, until you’ve whittled it down to a manageable amount. From there, standard rules apply.
There are a total of six powerups you can scoop up, too, that can help tilt the odds in your favor, albeit temporarily. These include the typical ‘lengthen your paddle’3, slow down / speed up tricks, and, for maximum frustration (especially at the beginning of a round), inverted controls. Depending on your chosen score limit / skill, games can last five minutes or twenty minutes.
Still, Pong is still Pong, and once the novelty of the 500-ball opening volley wears off, you’re left with the same formula that’s been done to death. Impossiball can absolutely be entertaining if you’ve got a friend nearby, but solo, you won’t get much mileage out of it.
- I’m talking about the game, not some obscure sexual fetish. Get your mind out of the gutter. ↩
- The best strategy I found was to start your paddle in the middle, then slide up at an angle as the balls drift in. You’ll still miss half, but you’ll also send a couple hundred balls straight at your opponent’s face! …Don’t even think it. Get your mind out of the gutter. ↩
- Seriously, I’m talking about the game, not slang for something else. Get. Your. Mind. …out of the gutter. ↩