It takes quite a bit of practice to truly master PKTBALL, and then you’ll still realize you’re fairly mediocre — but its incessantly chirpy soundtrack and enthusiastic nature means you’ll readily forgive its difficulty curve.
At its heart, PKTBALL is essentially a modern day interpretation of Pong. There’s a reason why Pong was so successful for so long — because it’s a ton of fun. Sure, it’s simple stuff, but you’ll be surprised how many games use that theme to turn their title into something special. PKTBALL does that kind of thing. Your sole objective is to keep bouncing that smiley ball at your opponent, returning their shots, and eventually scoring against them. Rallies mean points, scoring means points, and, well, you get the idea.
A tutorial guides you through the paces, but practice is what you really need here. PKTBALL isn’t easy. There’s a surprising amount of depth when it comes to the kinds of shot you can pull off, but it takes practice. You use your finger to slide or tap around the screen, unleashing the ball and rallying back and forth. Do it just right, and you can pull off a spin shot or a stronger hit. It’s all quite a tactile experience, but one that requires your absolute concentration, otherwise screwing up is easy to do.
You do, at least, get a couple of lives before it’s game over, but who really wants to waste those on a moment of carelessness? Occasionally, power-ups appear on screen and if you can snag them with the ball, you benefit from them. Sometimes, these happen to be extra lives, or even better, a size boost ensuring your character becomes huge for a time.But there are also negative power-ups, causing you issues such as reducing the size of the ball massively. It’s a risky move to make but, generally, you’re better off aiming for the bonuses.
You can also pick up coins along the way, and these coins are rather useful. Acquire 200 coins and in a Crossy Road style way, you can use them to buy new characters. There’s a slight catch in that you use a crane machine game to pluck them out, but it’s fairly simple to win at. Win one, and you gain a new look character as well as a new look court to play the game in. Coins are reasonably easy to gain too, either via daily bonuses, through a button that you can hammer for free coins, or by watching some videos.
It’s that kind of trickle feeding of content that further endears you towards PKTBALL. You can always opt to buy your way ahead, but it’s really not necessary (although, I’d consider Laser Dog a company worth throwing money at), because it’s reasonably well balanced.
Perhaps the jewel in the crown though is PKTBALL’s local multiplayer option. You can play with up to 4 players across one device. It’s nearly as insane as it sounds. Each player has a quadrant to control with things soon turning very frantic. Of course, it works more effectively with a larger device than your iPhone, but there’s still a certain charm to it. Just expect to be whacking each other’s hands out of the way to gain the edge in battle. One can only hope that an online multiplayer mode is in PKTBALL’s future.
In its own little way, PKTBALL is something special. At times, your practice and skills will be tested. At other times, you might wonder if the AI really could be that flukey, but mostly, you’re just going to be enjoying the ride. It’s the ideal high score chasing game to dip into for five minutes when you get the chance, and you’ll still feel like you’ve achieved plenty alongside having fun.