Miniclip’s Ping Pong, while competent, feels about as necessary as air conditioning at the North Pole
Apple has done well with its slogan “There’s an App for that!” Even Sesame Street has gotten in on the “app for everything” times with a fun song. So with an app out there to cover just about everything, you have to start to think “what’s the point of some of these apps?” Ping Pong – Insanely Addictive! (yes, that’s the official name on the App Store) falls into this category quite handily.
Remember when you used to have a ping pong paddle and nobody to play with? What did you do? Simple: keep tapping the ball on your paddle and see how many times in a row you can keep the ball in the air. Well someone felt the need to make an app for that too, and it’s as brainless as you’d think.
It’s not so much that the gameplay is broken. Ping Pong uses the accelerometer to control the paddle onscreen while your in-game self keeps walking forward. It works quite well for the most part. Extra bonus icons occasionally pop up onscreen to artificially increase your score – just tap and watch your online score increase.
To be sure, some of these bonuses alter the gameplay a bit – altering the physics, adding some extra balls to keep bouncing – and are a bit fun. But these occasional alterations to the gameplay aren’t really major alterations to the underlying theme, which is you keeping a ball in the air.
The real problem I have with Ping Pong – Insanely Addictive! other than the name that’s forcing you to realize its amazing! adjectival! quality! is that there’s no real point to it. Sure, it’s a free app – wait, no it’s not. There’s an annoying ad bar at the top of the screen you have to pay to remove. (And why the game believes that I, a married man with a child, want to “Meet exciting Canadian singles!” is beyond me.)
So not only do you have to deal with an ad that may or may not apply to you, it’s just dumbfounding why you’d even bother to play Ping Pong – Insanely Addictive! at all. How much did you pay for your iPod Touch? $230? Your iPhone was probably at least $200 on contract. So why would you use this incredibly advanced piece of technology to reproduce something you could easily buy for real at a dollar store? You can’t even use the iPhone’s pedometer features to actually walk and play at the same time. Rather than get up off your duff and do something you did as a kid, you can lie in bed and have the screen do it for you.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with Ping Pong, but there’s nothing particularly right either. It’s just stupid that it exists, and will likely be met with a bemused shrug. Technology is certainly capable of bringing us new amazing experiences – just look at Sonic Speed Ball by comparison. This is just a replacement for… I’m not even sure.