Thursday, March 30, 2023

Arcade Table Tennis Game Mega Review: Pong

Pong wasn't the first video game nor was it the first arcade game, but it was the first game to jumpstart the craze that created the worldwide video game market.

Pong is not an original concept, both in the fact that it was simply a video game version of two-player table tennis, and also in the fact that the idea spawned from a May 1972 demonstration of video game table tennis created by Ralph Baer.

That demonstration of the ITL2000, a console better known as the Magnavox Odyssey, was attended by Nolan Bushnell, the co-founder of Atari. Bushnell took the general idea with him and tasked Allan Alcorn with developing a game based on what he witnessed.

Pong kept the basics of the square representing the ball, the middle line representing the net, and the score counter. However, Pong changed from Baer's Table Tennis in two main ways that arguably made the game more playable for mainstream audiences. Whereas in Table Tennis, the ball would be out when it went past the vertical gamespace, as in real-life Table Tennis, Pong would bounce the ball back, more akin to air hockey. In addition, Baer's game had the option to give the ball some English, which is slang for giving hitting the ball to give it a bit of a curve. Alcorn's Pong simply had the game bounce directly off the paddle.

Thus, this simple black and white game with a simple beep sound effect when the ball bounced, was tested as a coin-operated machine. It became a huge hit, leading to more arcade clones of Pong by Atari and other companies, a home console by Atari, home console versions of Atari's Pong clones, and even more console versions of Pong clones by other companies.

Today, Pong is not even a shred as impressive as it was when it was released. But, there is no denying that it made a mark not just on the video game industry, but in worldwide pop culture as a whole. It still can be fun to play in short bursts, as it's essentially black-and-white air hockey without the drag from the air, and air hockey never will become not fun.

Final Verdict:
3½ out of 5

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