Ping 1.5+ Review (Wii U eShop)

Ping 1.5+ Review (Wii U eShop)

One of the joys of the indie game community is the release of games that hearken back to the old days. These games are great not only because of this, but because they take simple concepts and make them challenging while still employing modern techniques. Ping 1.5+ is one of those games that feels like a classic game despite obviously not being one. The secret to success is patience, timing, and sometimes a whole lot of luck. Unfortunately the last of the secrets causes some frustrations in addition to its innovations.

Graphics 

When we think about classic games, we think about the simple graphics. While Ping 1.5+ is not 8-bit, the graphics are very simple and yet very nice. This is one of the ways by which I mean by how it feels like a classic but isn’t. It channels the spirit of simplicity but incorporates modern advances like 3D modeling and camera perspective. This adds a layer of nostalgia and freshness at the same time, and I like it. However, the game, especially in the later levels, suffers fro horrible lag. This is most notable when there are explosions on the screen. Most of the time I didn’t care, but in the later levels, it began to really matter.

Sound

If you were to assume the name of the game derives from the sound made when bouncing off the wall, I would agree with you. You hear a lot of pings, almost as if this was an interesting pinball game, but I was never tired of the sounds. They felt right and I sometimes thought they were relaxing. There is music to the game with a neat beat, but I was generally too focused on the gameplay to pay attention, unless I accidentally used my last shot and was moving really slowly.

Gameplay

The gameplay is fairly simple. Launch a cube at an angle and reach the goal within a certain number of bounces and shots. It could almost be thought of as billiards where the ball has to keep moving and the pocket can be anywhere on the table with obstacles in the way. I think it’s a great concept and it is certainly executed well in a few levels, but there are others that you need luck. Sometimes you will find yourself short by one shot or one bounce, but some levels are designed to cause you frustration. These levels are a pain especially when they hinder you from advancing to the next world. I spent 1 week being stuck on one level that was luck based. As a troll, the developers tweeted what sounded like a way to bypass these levels only to troll you. You can enter the Konami code and you will get  “You Lose!” If there was another way to bypass those levels, the troll would be humorous. Luckily for them, there is a way!

https://twitter.com/NAMITENTOU/status/521500369541558272If you enter UpDownLeftRightAB on the level select screen, you will hear a little chime and all of the levels will be unlocked. I wish I found that out weeks ago. That would have been very helpful for the devil boss fight where it takes a lot of skill, timing, and patience to beat. I believe I was stuck on it for a week before I finally beat it, but I don’t plan to go back to it unless the rest of the cheats make it fun. Really. If I didn’t find that code just the other day, the tone of this review would have been very annoyed and frustrated.

https://twitter.com/NAMITENTOU/status/494358134782455809So what can you expect from the various levels? Lots of references to classic games such as Pac Man, Asteroids, Pong, Breakaway, Legend of Zelda, Space Invaders, and even Missile Command. The last world, on the other hand, consists of levels inspired by Block Drop U and Minecraft. The boss levels are generally where the gameplay shifts. In these levels, you sometimes have your normal bounce and shots limits, but sometimes the bounce is replaced with a goal like blocking 100 missiles. Sometimes you have your bounce limit and you are tasked with defeating 30 enemies. My least favorite was shooting down “devils” within 200 shots. It’s really hard because you die easily and you only fire your beam at a set cycle. This was the boss fight I was tormented by for a week and I would blame if my touch screen went bad. Another type of level I dreaded were the spinning kind that appear in world 11. Until about world 9, the levels fit on one screen. When you get to these levels you get to appreciate something you rarely see in Wii U games: The TV becomes your map.

While you can play using the TV, this game is really a GamePad-centered game. You can play by using the control stick to aim and pressing A to launch, but that would be making your life more difficult. I used the control stick alot, but that’s because it also slows down time. That feature becomes incredibly important as it is necessary to progress through some levels. In some of the boss fights, if you don’t slow down time, you die immediately. To make it more interesting, not everything is affected by this element. So you have to plan your strategy and timing even for the “slow down” effect to make it through.

Map view on the TV

Map view on the TV

Replayability

It’s easy to replay levels since you have access as soon as they are unlocked. The three star system feels like an attempt to instill replay value, but because some levels are based on luck, and others I got a gold star on the first try, I rarely felt like going back. The few levels I would go back to would be the boss levels. Perhaps the simplest boss level in the game was actually my favorite and that was a tribute to Space Invaders. I think that level shows you don’t need a challenging level to create replay value. You just need to make it fun. So overall, the replay factor is a mixed bag. Luckily, if you use the cheat code to unlock levels, then the experience is far more enjoyable as you are no longer tied to beating a level that is frustrating in design and not skill based.

Totally looks like an arcade game

Totally looks like an arcade game

Overall

It took me more than 3 weeks just to reach World 11 in this game. That is how hard it is. If you want a challenge, this game is perfect. If you can’t stand having to rely on luck to advance, then avoid this game or use the cheat code to unlock all the levels. There are some well designed levels, but the fact that you have to beat every level to advance to the next world makes Ping 1.5+ a frustrating experience to play without using the cheat code. Even though I feel like it was made to cater for people who love a challenge, it sometimes forget that requiring luck to advance is what the intended audience would hate. So is this worth $5? I don’t know. What I can say is that I do enjoy this more than the entire Bit Trip Saga except for maybe Runner. So if you love the games in that series, I guess this would be good for you.

Separate Note: Bonus points for the developer being an active member in the Miiverse Community. That is very awesome and it’s pretty cool to get a “yeah” and “thank you” from the dev. Also to note is that the game will be 50% off from Novemeber 26 to December 3rd. So if you are debating the value of $5, I think the $2.50 is worth it.

Ping 1.5+ Review (Wii U eShop)
A challenging title on a simple concept betrayed by some frustrating level design. Cheat code is a must for progress. Otherwise a good game for fans of classics
Graphics7.5
Sound7.5
Gameplay7
Replayability7
Pros
  • Innovation
  • Cheat codes
  • Challenge
Cons
  • Occasional Frustrating Level Design
  • Might Need Cheat Codes to Progress
  • Heavy Lag
7Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0
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About The Author

Feature Writer/Game Reviewer

Blogger in the IGN community and no longer for Always Nintendo. You can find him still blogging in the IGN community as FalconRise