A Ping Pong Threesome – Rubbers, Bouncing Balls and Fortune Cookies

gamepaddleballhitting20081230

Because I am a fan of the misunderstood sport of table tennis, I scoured the App Store for a good table tennis game. I’ve not found any yet, but the match has just begun. Three apps: Paddle Ball, iPingpong 3D and Zen Table Tennis caught my eye. Balls in hand, I will drive forth a looping comparison. For reference, World Cup Ping Pong has also been recently reviewed here!

***
Paddle Ball – Jacob Eiting, 0.4MB 1.99$

That's all folks

That's all folks

Firstly, Paddle Ball: an exciting app that perfectly embodies the fierce game of ping pong, except that it doesn’t. What you do get instead is: bouncing a ball. Over and over. Initially I was interested in this app as a substitute for a training exercise that does not work whilst riding the train. This app attempts to emulate the very basics of that exercise: bouncing a ball. What else can you do; let’s explore. Can you do backhand drills? NO. Can you use the side of the bat? NO. The top? NO. The handle butt? NO.

Anymore questions? NO.

Presentation and Gameplay
As a lay reviewer, I decided that Paddle Ball needed a proper rogering. 2 minutes later, sweaty and tired, I think I sussed it out. The game is intense: with a perfectly level iPT/iPhone, you can sit or stand while making suspicious up and down movements with your arm or wrist whilst the little orange ball will in theory at least, bounce from your ‘paddle’ as you hit it.

Unfortunately, so many things fall ill with this game. It has no tactile feedback thus you have to rely on sight alone to determine if you have hit the ball. Even sight soon fails as the bat never moves, the ball merely changes size and trajectory. There is no such thing as slicing or counter spinning for high bounces. You cannot stall from a bounce and then throw back up. The rubber plays no role at all other than being red and even then, it is not a deep red.

There is a menu with well thought out options such as ‘Orange Ball’ and ‘Next Ball at 100 Hits’, both of which cannot actually be depressed but exist for the sake of giving function to the menu button. The other menu options: look at the top score and your own are slightly more useful. Every time I press the menu button and see TOM’s achievement of 6,666 hits, I wonder why he or she stopped at exactly that number when the sky was the limit. Shame.

gamepaddleballmenu20081230gamepaddleballdropball20081230

Someone definately dropped the ball

At 1.99$, it is cheaper than buying even the cheapest of bats and balls but is far too expensive for the experience it returns. Perhaps the I Am Rich developer saw a new opening for his talents and changed his name, made this game and is raking in the dosh before Apple shut him down. Since there is no Shame rating, I’ll just settle with a Wipe: don’t waste your time and dear money on this rubbish app.

appstoreicon

wipe

 

***
iPingPong 3D – Octane Technologies, published by Chillingo Ltd., 2.7MB, 0.99$

gameipingpongmenu20081230gameipingpongladder20081230

Cute Names

Of the three apps in this comparison review,iPingpong 3D has the most ‘finished’ feeling. Chillingo Ltd. served up a proper menu, a good scoring system, a tournament ladder, practice modes and even cheering in the background. It is by no means a table tennis app but it is a good ping pong game.

Presentation and Gameplay
This game is not called iPingpong 3D for nothing. It is fully polygonal and accelerated which makes gameplay smooth and uninterrupted. The only hiccoughs I have encountered have been whilst trying to snap a picture during gameplay – only then will the frames stutter. But who snaps pictures of their gameplay? Parents come to tourneys for that (look at the crowd in the background – do you recognise any faces?).

Like all games in this mini comparison, there is no backhand and all I see is red. You have a bat that moves as if it were attached to a microphone with two forehand rubbers (I already smell disqualification from the ITTF). It swivels around a central axis to the left and right and you can also push it forward for faster balls. All hits and blocks are done by touch. The menu is also touch. So too is the menu. All is touch, even the menu.

You play on a shrunken table which at first made me feel cramped but as I warmed to the game, I found the size to be natural(ish). There is also no way to change the ball colour so you must play with your choice of orange. I chose the latter.

Speaking of balls, physics in this game is quite good: smooth ball motion and even a peppering of spin! If you whack the ball hard enough straight forward, you generate top spin and when arcing the shot to the left or right, there is a slight bit of side rotation. Slicing is impossible but that is not due to incomplete physics, rather the fixed bat position. The ball and bat’s reaction to spin is somewhat true to life – probably dumbed down for the sake of playability.

Ergonomics
The controls are awkward to a degree but I got used to them quickly. For the moment, they are best of breed and I found, quite a workout. Truthfully, during Christmas this year, my wife discovered me with an embarrassed sweat after playing for about 30 minutes.

The touch controls are basic indeed: swipes and pushes only. Strangely, it is the first game I have played in the App Store where the higher ranked opponents are actually easier to beat. As you progress, you will begin to play players like Sam Slice who has a five-star rating. After only 3 tries, I could beat him but I still cannot beat the 2 star Gudd Shot. Why? Your bat will always angle toward the opposing side. If a spinny shot flies your way, you have only one choice: counter it and countering is not easy if your bat is always pivoting at flat angles. If you try to block it, it will fly off the table. In lower levels, no one spins so you just block, block, block and block again until someone makes a mistake. Fun but trying.

gameipingponggudd20081230gameipingpongsamslice20081230

What would make this game worth it? Internet play. Like Ace Tennis, a multiplayer server could theoretically be set up to extend replay fun. Your personal ranking would be up with everyone else and you could have true bragging rights. Well, that is if Chillingo Ltd. allow you to change your name from player. Indeed, if internet play was available, I might be single again.

Great game. Not deep but instantly fun. Not table tennis. Feels like real ping pong. Great graphics, fun competition ladder and competitive price.

Octane: you have earned a grab from touchmyapps!

appstoreicon

grab

***
Zen Table Tennis – Chillingo Ltd., 10.0 MB, 1.99$

Zen, Chinese Style

Zen, Chinese Style

The final game in this comparison is also from Chillingo. Zen table tennis seems to use a slightly tweaked version of the iPingpong 3D engine. So, you can expect similar gameplay and graphics. The differences are however, not subtle.

Gone are the nice menus and cheering crowds. It is truly a zen experience. In China.

Gameplay
The game is brought closer to the table so that you have more control over spin and you are able to ‘step out’ and to the side slightly to reach balls that veer to the side. It still has the awkward serving style of iPingpong 3D but takes that to a new level. if you push too fast, you miss the ball. by pushing, you can add more topspin to any shot but you also can miss the ball. Timo Boll would be saddened to see the misshapen fencing style thrusts that make up the majority of offensive play in Zen Table Tennis.

gamezenttproverb20081230gamezenttmiss20081230

Zen brings one more innovation to the game: landscape mode play, but whether you play portrait or landscape, the view is too low to really see the ball.

I cannot say much more. It is not a bad game per se but it is not good at all. It lacks the fun feeling of iPingpong 3D and instead gives you ping pong themed quasi adventure game that preaches to you at the end.

Perhaps this is a tech demo. Perhaps there really is a place called the temple of the Ten Thousand Paddles but I have so far only noticed mine and my enemy’s bats. In any case, I don’t think anyone really cares. For extravagant lackluster, this game gets a solid Slap from Touchmyapps.

appstoreicon

slap

 

  • KB

    iPingPong3D is developed by Octane Technologies and is published by Chiilingo. It is Octane’s first iPhone game. I am sure that they appreciate the comments but also would appreciate an acknowledgement!

  • http://www.touchmyapps.com shigzeo

    Hello KB: mistake noted. I will fix that immediately. Thank you for pointing it out.

  • RA

    Nice comments, they are very helpful. Comments like this gives user a good feedback to decide which game he/she is interested in. Good job keep it up.

  • http://www.touchmyapps.com shigzeo

    just wait: i think we have another review coming up soon! (hope so). this genre should exploited for its great possibility as a game design.

Next ArticleA Look at Hot PopCorn - A Must Have for Movie Junkies