Ping Pong

by Doug Burns, Jonathan M. Smith, Martin Galway
Imagine Software Ltd
Crash Issue 28, May 1986   page(s) 112,113

Producer: Imagine
Retail Price: £7.95
Author: Bernie Duggs

Years on from the classic Pong game which had a lot to do with the birth of the computer games industry, Imagine have decided to tackle the sport of Ping Pong, releasing a product which plays rather more like the game of table tennis than the early bat and ball game. Imagine's Ping Pong is a conversion of Konami's arcade game and abides to all the rules and regulations of table tennis, interpreted automatically by a computerised judge - there's no room for tantrums in this game. The first player to score eleven points wins, unless there's a 10-10 tie, and five levels of play are available, ranging from nice 'n' slow to oriental style, played at the speed of sound.

The game is viewed from above and behind the base line of the table with your bat positioned about a quarter of the way up the screen. Player One always plays from this view point and the computer or second player takes the top end of the table - there's no change of ends. The score and other relevant information, including the judge's calls, is displayed on either side of the table. The audience appears on both sides of the screen, with the right hand side mob cheering on the computer or Player Two, whilst the spectators on the left shout and clap if you score a winning point.

The bat is controlled by a phantom disembodied hand - thus avoiding the problems that would be posed by full-size figures: seeing the table would be tricky. Timing and hitting a shot correctly is the key to the game - the computer automatically tracks the ball and always makes sure that your bat is behind it. When the ball reaches the bat select the sort of shot you'd like to play by pressing either left, right or up as the ball hits the bat - pressing right when the ball hits the bat gives a cut, left a drive and up a smash (but only smash when the ball is lobbed). The timing of the strike governs the direction in which the ball moves, veering to the left or right of the table. The bat is normally held forehand, but pressing the fire button switches to backhand mode allowing you to return a ball hit to the extreme right hand corner of the table.

The human player always has to serve first and this is done by pressing down to throw the ball into the air and following with a normal shot. There's a time limit to each serve and if the ball doesn't cross the net within seven seconds, a point is awarded to the opponent. After five points have been scored the service changes over, unless the game is tied at ten points apiece, when service alternates and the game continues until one player gets two points ahead of the other or reaches fifteen points.

Apart from the match points, players can collect points during the game and go for an entry on the Ping Pong high score table. Each time a player hits the ball, ten points are added to his or her score, while a massive five hundred points can be collected by successfully smashing the ball and winning a game point. At the end of each level of play, a bonus of one thousand points is awarded to the winner for each game point of the winning margin.

In the one player mode in which a human pits skills with the Spectrum's Central Processing Unit, play moves up a level each time the CPU loses. Two players play best of three matches to decide the winner, and select the skill level they wish to play at.


Control keys: All definable
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2, Cursor
Use of colour: a bit bland, but fine
Graphics: not overly wonderful, but adequate for the game
Sound: unbelievably good - Spectrum excellence
Skill levels: five
Screens: one

I loaded Ping Pong and immediately thought a Commodore 64 was attached... the sound on the game is brilliant, amazing - it defies all adjectives. Excellent drum beats, cool synth techniques: Wow! The game itself is very original and kept me compelled for ages. Imagine seem to be taking the software market by storm this year, I just hope they can keep it up! The table tennis table is well laid out in true 3D fashion and the game includes lots of nice features - apart from the usual definable keys there's a most exciting two player option and five levels of difficulty. Imagine seem to push the Spectrum to its limits with every game they bring out, goodness only knows what they're going to put on the 128K! I would recommend any arcade freak to buy Ping Pong at what is a very cheap price for a game of this quality on the Spectrum - and if you like adventures just buy it and dance to that groovy beat...

The loading screen isn't of the usual Ocean/Imagine quality, but all my fears were dashed when I heard the tune; undoubtedly the best on the Spectrum yet! I felt the only real thing wrong with the game is that the bat graphics could have been improved and given more movement - at the moment the bat seems to be controlled by wrist action only. Other than that, I think it's got everything a good game needs - it's attractive, addictive, and very playable. Imagine have done it again and now I've got to go and crack level five.

Konami's arcade game never really took off in Britain and after playing this I can't understand why - it's a really great game. The graphics suit the game very well and there are no attribute problems at all, but the sound... super duper, spiffing stuff guys! I really couldn't believe that a humble BEEPy Spectrum was uttering such impressive music. Just listen to it! The game plays very well too and is well worth buying.

Use of Computer: 92%
Graphics: 82%
Playability: 94%
Getting Started: 93%
Addictive Qualities: 91%
Value For Money: 89%
Overall: 90%

Summary: General Rating: A highly playable and enjoyable sports simulation.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 6, Jun 1986   page(s) 59


If you've spent hours watching the telly wondering how those inscrutable Chinese whizz the little white ball over the net with such speed, then here's the chance to have a go yourself. Like the English cricket team you'll start by having the ball fly by without laying a bat on it.

Despair not, though. This isn't one of those fiendishly unmasterable games. Nor is it one of those silly simulations where all the money's gone into producing a pretty copy of the original sport but a cop-out of a computer game. Any resemblance to table tennis is purely co-incidental (which is why I presume Imagine has used the slightly pejorative Ping Pong as a title). What you actually get is a pacy and competitive game that hones up your reflexes.

On-screen you see a table, net and a small segment of crowd. Glad to see most of the screen is used for game play not pointless packaging. You never see players - just bats - so it's a bit like playing the invisible man. Still, there's no 'arm in that, and you can see he's got no tricks up his sleeve! The first to 11 points wins the game (not 21 as in the real Chester Barnes) and the best of three games if using the two player facility. If on one player mode and you beat the computer (oh! lucky person! - though not impossible) then you move up to the next level of difficulty; there are five in total. There's dead groovy music, offset by manic cheering more appropriate to a McGuigan fight.

But don't let that put you off your stroke: you have three of them - smash, drive and cut. There's no spin or second serve or dimple controversy, but all shots are playable off back or fore hand (and I'd stand more chance with four hands). The computer always ensures the bat's in the right place - your job is to play the appropriate shot and get the timing right. The computer varies its speed (watch out for floaters and no giggling at the sound effect), angle and form of shot constantly, so there's no chance of predicting what'll happen.

But if you persevere and learn the basic skills, you can get yourself embroiled in some sweaty situations requiring a pretty whippy wrist action. I wish you well - it's a smashing game.

Graphics: 6/10
Playability: 8/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Addictiveness: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 50, Feb 1990   page(s) 48


A bumper New Year collection of cheapie rubbish (whoops!) from that king of the skin-flints, Marcus Berkmann, and his preppy pauper (ha ha) Jonathan Davies.

Hit Squad
Reviewer: Jonathan Davies

At this rate, pretty well every game that's ever been released will be out on budget. Ping Pong dates from 1986, but its exhumation is very welcome.

The name says it all really. Two bats, a ball and a table. The bats float eerily above the table, a little like their mammalian namesakes, with no visible means of support, and can perform about five different shots. The graphics are about what you'd expect. Green, basically. The sound is quite elaborate, though - an impressive title tune and plenty of audience participation during the match.

Despite it all, Ping Pong is great fun to play. The concept of hitting a small ball across a table lots of times proves to be very absorbing. The only trouble is that the computer tends to play too predictably, so you might be better off finding a friend to compete with.

Overall: 80%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 94, Jan 1990   page(s) 61


Yes! We're going back in time to take a lok at some games of yester-year. Why? Because they've all been re-released for £3 each and they're in your shops now!

Label: Hit Squad
Price: £2.99

Ping! Pong! And other appropriate sound effects! The first of our six raves from the grave this month is Imagine's table-tennisy effort, which captures all the thrills and excitement of that fine game, ie not much your lordship.

No, no. let's be fair, this is about as good an implementation of P-P as you could expect; you view the table from your end, the bats float in a disembodied manner, and you have a fair degree of choice over your type of shot; backhand, smash, cut and drive.

The animation of the balls and the bats is fine, and the sound effects are very much what you'd imagine. The silliest aspect is the audience, all of whom look as if they have enormous triple-decker sandwiches in their mouths.

Once you've got the hang of serving it becomes pretty easy to beat the computer, but of course the game's much more fun playing with two. Check it out.

Graphics: 58%
Playability: 60%
Overall: 59%

Summary: Good stab at enlivening a basically dull sport.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Issue 10, Jul 1988   page(s) 81

Available on Game, Set and Match
Amstrad, £12.95cs, £17.95dk
C64, £12.95cs, £17.95dk
Spectrum, £12.95cs

Surprisingly, pinging the pong can be good, sweaty fun on a micro. Although this Konami game is no spring chicken - it appeared way back in 1985 - it still manages to be an enjoyable tussle with your computer opponent. The view is from your end of the table, whether you are serving or not. Shots possible are limited to blocks, cuts, drives or smashes, but these are quite sufficient to get a good rally going, a couple of slow looping shots followed by a stinging smash is often enough to bamboozle your opponent - on level 1, at least. On the remaining five levels you'll have much more trouble - and much more fun.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 99, Feb 1990   page(s) 57

Hit Squad
Spectrum, Amstrad, C64 £2.99

Converted from the Konami arcade machine of the same name, one or two table tennis addicts take part in this 3D battle of the balls. Each player controls a ping-pong bat, situated at each end of the table, the aim being simply to hit the ball and attempt to make your opponent miss. Tournaments last for three games, the winner of game being the first person to score eleven points.

With a variety of different shots available to the budding min-Becker, Ping Pong is a cheap and cheerful little number which will warm the cockles of every sports sim addict's heart.

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Overall: 81%

Summary: Apart from a loss of colour, this Spectrum version is as good as the C64 game - if you're a fan, don't hesitate in saying "this one please" to the shopkeeper.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ZX Computing Issue 25, May 1986   page(s) 15


Sometime last year Imagine signed a deal with Konami to convert loads of their arcade games onto home micros and the latest is their Ping Pong game. It's odd really, that Ping Pong which was one of the first video games is still being produced, but Imagine's version is considerably more sophisticated than the old two-dimensional games with a white blob bouncing from left to right.

As soon as the game loads it starts to play a tune that's very impressive considering the limits of the 48K machine's sound facilities and throughout the game sound is well used.

Once play begins you are presented with a slightly overhead perspective on the table, and in the background on either side of the screen are two extremely partisan crowds who cheer whenever their chosen player scores a point. The standard rules of table tennis are observed, the winner of each game being the one who reaches eleven points first, though you must also win by at least two points and if the score reaches fifteen all the game is abandoned (though when I played that didn't present any problems since the computer always won by eleven points).

The controls are fairly simple; The two basic strokes available to you are the cut and drive, the first being a slow shot, while the second is faster and I generally managed to knock that one out of play. There is also a smash shot available, and the serve obviously, and there are backhanded variations on these shots which I found allowed me to knock the ball out of play in several different directions. Your timing has a lot to do with controlling the direction of shots and the speed of play increases on each of the five levels so though the controls aren't that complex the game isn't easily mastered.

The graphics aren't exactly spectacular, but they are clear and uncluttered which is probably more important in a game like this. If, after all this time, you're still interested in ploying ping-pong on your computer then this is almost certainly the best version around.

Overall: Great

Award: ZX Computing Globella

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue Annual 2018   page(s) 61

As the Crash annuals are still for sale ZXSR has taken the decision to remove all review text, apart from reviewer names and scores from the database. A backup has been taken of the review text which is stored offsite. The review text will not be included without the express permission of the Annuals editorial team/owners.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB