To be honest, I always kinda felt like Breakout was the single player version of Pong.
You know. Pong. The old bat and ball game that your dad (grandad, maybe? Damn, how old am I now?) used to play on his television set while sipping a tequila sunrise and smoking cigarillos.
Anyway, back in the future, indie developer Sean Kearney has come up with a whole new way of playing Pong by yourself, in the esoterically titled iPhone game One Player Pong.
“In my youth, I used to go to the arcades, and marvel at all of the fun multiplayer games,” Sean explains in the heartfelt blog post that comprises his rather amusing iTunes listing for One Player Pong. “Maybe nobody wanted to play with me because I didn’t shower much as a child, or maybe it was the fact that I wore an athletic cup over my pants. And so my dream was born; I was going to create an arcade game that could be played alone. I was going to make a game for people like me. I was going to make a game for the lonely.”
And a few short decades later, that’s exactly what he’s done.
One Player Pong works by changing the playing field from a square, into a circle. The iconic white line that represented the bat has been tweaked into a kind of curve that spins around the circumference of the playing area. The controls are equally simple, with a slider bar that, rather deliciously, mimics the spinners that came with your dad’s beautiful wood-effect Atari 2600 console (this game would play superbly with one of those, by the way).
There’s a nice dash of inertia programmed into the curved bat, allowing you to flick the spinner and send it flying around the circle nice and fast, while dropping your finger back onto the control bar stops the bat in its tracks. You quickly learn that this is the best tactic for racking up the high scores in One Player Pong, though sadly you don’t really have anyone to share that information with given the solitary nature of the game.
You can tell right from the start that this really is a game made for the love of it. I mean, it’s free, with no ads or IAPs, so clearly Sean isn’t looking to get rich from his game-for-the-lonely. But his nostalgia for the days of arcades past is something I share, and as I continue to play One Player Pong, I shall picture Sean playing it alone on his iPhone too. It’ll almost be like we’re playing together. And you should join us.