Thanks to Nami Tentou for the review code
Title: PING REDUX
Release Date: 05/06/2020
As a remaster of one of the first games I reviewed for this very website, Ping Redux takes Ping 1.5, changes some copyrighted material around, and polishes up the game in other aspects with some new stages. There’s little story, just like before, but the fact that I’m able to jump back in after six years and cover one of the games that got my foot in the door is pretty exciting, so let’s see if PING REDUX holds up well in a more competitive indie scene.
Like before, Ping Redux is a tribute to the Pong/Breakout games of old… And looks the part, using 3D shapes to recreate a similar style. Interestingly enough, this version added quite a few new background elements to the stages, referencing retro games even more than it did originally. The colors are still excellent, although the soundtrack seems entirely different now, consisting of some weird vocal tunes here and there. It’s not bad and it’s certainly more memorable than the original game’s OST (heck, it could easily be the original OST due to how I’ve completely forgotten it), but it definitely is an odd change to say the least.
Ping Redux’s stages task the player with launching their ball at an angle, bouncing off walls to touch a glowing orb. Doing this in as few bounces as possible will grant the player more stars, since this game does do the three-star scale you’d expect from a pick up and play mobile title. The good news is your progress isn’t gated much at all if you fail to get all the stars, so really the main focus in Ping is to just focus on getting your cube to the end.
Each stage also limits the amount of shots and bounces you can use. If you have more than one shot for instance, you can fire one, then hold the analog stick to slow down time and prepare a secondary shot at another angle. It’s a brilliant way of getting around the stages, especially with some of them being downright evil and devilish. (A few from 1.5 I remember being stuck on, seemed to have been adjusted in some ways to make it easier to beat, but there were a small handful I was still stuck on regardless)
The bounces are the main thing to keep in mind though, since they’re what determine your rank and whether or not you’ll fail to reach the goal. If you angle your shots perfectly and the ball doesn’t bounce much at all, then you’ll get a better rank on the stage, awarding more stars to unlock more stages. On the other hand, if your ball gets stuck or bounces a lot on the way to the orb, then it’ll break and you’ll have to redo the stage. (or you can also force a redo via the triangle button) With the levels being varied and gradually increasing in challenge as they go along, the game’s really fast paced, meaning that you can blaze through the worlds in no time at all. It’ll still take you 1-2 hours to see the entire game, but getting all stars can take a lot longer, especially on some of those tricky stages like the ones I had to skip.
Last but not least, the boss battles, each of which are really cool throwbacks to a retro game. Each of them plays kinda like said game, using the PING mechanics. One of them’s a cool Missile Command throwback where you have to defend the bottom of your screen, another is an Asteroids throwback where you shoot the ball into the asteroids to break them apart, and another is a nifty throwback to Yars Revenge, where you have to break through a wall as quickly as possible before shooting the boss on the right side of the screen. There’s one in each of the twelve worlds, and they’re generally pretty darn fun, usually not taking too much time to beat.
The bosses are also where I noticed the biggest QOL upgrade in Ping REDUX, mainly coming from adjusted clear conditions. You see, in the original 1.5, there were some bosses and stages that were really, really strict with the clear conditions, usually requiring an absurd amount of points to beat, or a very low bounce count that was insanely difficult. These would appear to come at random and felt like infuriating difficulty spikes, thus blocking the player from seeing all the game had to offer if they got stuck on a tricky boss. (the Missile Command boss in the original game was a game-ending fight for me in the original) Thankfully, the difficulty scaling is way more reasonable, and since the stars unlock the future worlds, rather than making you beat all eight core stages in a world, you can still skip a stage here and there, allowing me to see the rest of the game and have a great time overall!
In conclusion, PING REDUX is a pretty enjoyable remaster of a Wii U indie gem. I definitely appreciated several of the QOL improvements and difficulty tweaks, making this game a more beatable and enjoyable experience all around. It’s a really fun take on the Pong formula, and next to Armillo and XType Plus was one of the few Wii U indies I wanted to see remastered and playable elsewhere. Thankfully, Nami Tentou delivered on that wish, with a really good revamped take on the original 1.5, making this the definitive experience overall.
I just hope this finally leads to the overdue Ping 2 that was planned before the creation of 1.5, since the gameplay here is very solid, the levels are finally more fair and balanced, and the experience is just a fun, relaxing puzzling experience from start to finish that deserves more new content for it. Definitely a gem I’m very glad got the upgraded treatment, being freed from that system.
I give Ping REDUX an 8 out of 10.