ZX Spectrum Ping Pong
Ping Pong was a conversion of the classic arcade game by Konami. It was released by Imagine Software in April of 1986 and was developed by Doug Burns (or Bernie Duggs) who would go on to create the excellent Hypaball.
Anyway, this classic game was a simulation of table tennis - and was the best version of the sport on the ZX Spectrum by far.
The game followed the rules of table tennis - so the winner was the first to score eleven points. If the game was tied at ten points each (deuce) then the first person to go two points clear of the other was the winner.
The game took a viewpoint of just behind your end of the table, with the table and net viewed in front of you. Player one always took this viewpoint - so the computer or human player two controlled the bat at the 'far end' of the table. The perspective viewpoint on the table was pretty good.
In a nice touch there were onlookers on each side of the table, with the folks on the left cheering every point you won. The 'crowd' reminded me of the spectators that featured in Daley Thompsons Decathlon with the round of applause they gave you on winning a point.
Your bat was displayed 'floating' on the screen and the computer controlled it's movement (as in left and right movement). You had to time your shots and choose to go forehand or backhand. You could also slice or drive your shots back - a good variety of shots could be produced once you got the hang of the game.
If a ball bounced up high towards you it was also possible to smash a return back - which could be satisfying as you walloped away another winner.
There were five skill levels to play against (1 to 5) and level five was played at warp speed with your opponent very difficult to beat. I never managed to beat level 5 anyway.
It should be noted that this arcade game featured excellent synthesised two channel menu music (probably the first of it's kind on the ZX Spectrum) which is now down in the history of great Spectrum music.
Well the original arcade game by Konami had not been very popular in the UK (I don't know why) so the game did not generate a lot of excitement at first. However, word soon spread about the music and then the gameplay. This game was a superb arcade conversion that was playable and addictive both in single player mode and two player mode. Crash magazine awarded it a Crash Smash rating and rightly so. This game went on to be a big hit on the Spectrum, and another for Imagine Software.
The test of time:
Well after playing this once more I still really like it. It's still playable and once you get the hang of it (all over again!) you realise that a good game is in there. The graphics were never the best, but they serve their purpose and work well within the game. The shots you can make sort of remind me of Wii tennis - in fact a version of this on the Wii would be superb!
This classic arcade game for the ZX Spectrum is definately worth another look after all these years.
We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and get Ping Pong. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
GENRE: Arcade game
RELEASE DATE: 1986
RELEASED BY: Imagine Software
DEVELOPER(S): Doug Burns
PRICE: £7.95 - UK
Arcade Games and Classic Games