I've often wondered what various games would look like as RPGs - Space Invaders, OutRun, Granny's Garden - but I've never once wondered about Pong. Have you? I mean it's Pong, a game about slowly moving a paddle up and down the screen trying to bat a ball towards your opponent and hoping they'll miss it. How would Pong work as an RPG?
And not just any RPG. I mean a fantasy RPG. I mean fireballs and mana, skills and levelling up, baddies like ogres and slimes, and evil wizards. How would that work? Well wonder no more! Hypergalactic Psychic Table Tennis 3000 has the answer. It also has a ridiculous name. But that's because it is ridiculous.
It's unmistakably Pong when you play it. You're a bat (don't call me that!) against another bat and there's a bouncy ball - you know the deal. But here, the bats aren't just ordinary bats, they're slimes and ogres and evil wizards. Ogre bats are massive and slow, just like real ogres in, um, real life; and slimes are red blobs and wizards fling fireballs at you. That's right: fireballs.
Hypergalactic Psychic Table Tennis has magic abilities and mana. Each time you win a match you get XP and level up, and can get a new ability. Do you want something to take less damage every time you hit the ball? Probably, because this is very annoying. If you take too much damage you will break into pieces, leaving your opponent with an open goal. Maybe get a heal spell. Or how about a fireball? Fireballs are cool because if you hit the bouncy ball it's like hitting it with your bat, changing the ball's trajectory, and it makes a kind of grenade out of it.
Or do you want to increase your girth? And look, I'm sorry to write that but that's what it literally says in the game. Hypergalactic Psychic Table Tennis 3000 has a kind of Duke Nukem sense of humour. It's puerile but delivered with such po-faced grizzled aggression it sort of works. Like I said: it's ridiculous.
Mix all of this together and throw in some wildcard elements, like portals to warp the ball around the level and pinball bumpers to cannon the ball around, and you've got yourself a bizarre Pong fantasy RPG which asks: How far can you get?
I like that someone's looking at dusty old museum relics like Pong and wondering what else they can be used for, and that they're not just walking by and "mmm"ing like everyone else. I like the idea of old ideas being played with because that's what games are about, isn't it? Playing. It makes me wonder what other hallowed games from our past could be given the same wacky treatment.