Game: PING REDUX
Genre: Action, Arcade, Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on PC)
Developer|Publisher: Nami Tentou
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US everyone
Price: UK £4.09 | US $4.99 | EU € 4,99
Release Date: January 14th, 2021
Review code provided with many thanks to Nami Tentou
It Started With a Pixel
Video games in some ways all started with the most basic of pixels. When I think of the term pixel two things come to mind; old retro games like Pong and Breakout which take on the most basic of graphical styles but still offer bursts of entertainment. And secondly, that awful Adam Sandler film which I thought I had erased from my mind until I decided to write about this very topic.
The point I’m trying to get to is games made even today can still embody this simple graphical design and create something intriguing. PING REDUX may not look like much on the surface, but, if you give it a chance you might just discover something special.
Shoot The Orange
PING REDUX is a 2D puzzle game where the aim is to shoot a white pixel at a giant retro orange. To achieve this you aim with the analogue stick. A handy line guide gives you an approximate idea of where your pixel will travel. When aiming it also slows downtime, so when you have a level with moving platforms you can use this to attempt to shoot your pixel through the opening at the right moment. On some levels, after firing the pixel you also get a chance to shoot it again. Here the aim and slow down feature comes in extra handy as your pixel is already in motion. In each single-screen level, you have a set amount of times your pixel can bounce off walls and shoot it again.
If the pixel exceeds the bounce limit it will explode and you instantly start the level again. There are no load times so you can kind of go a bit nuts. You can put your best mathematics hat on and try to calculate the trajectory of your pixel hoping it will make it to the orange. Or if you want you can just guess, heck I did just that and sometimes it worked out.
The vast majority of levels can theoretically be finished in seconds if you manage to pull off a winning shot. But it’s likely you’ll hit that one level that just stumps you for minutes at a time. The good news is, if you get really stuck you can return to the level later and try other levels on offer first. Each world has 8 puzzles with a boss fight. The standard levels are a variety of moving platforms and tunnels which vary widely in difficulty. The boss fights are easily the highlight. These levels feel more creative, like having you play as a spaceship shooting some familiar invaders. These still use the same control mechanics of aim and shoot but act as a great conclusion after the standard levels. You only need to complete 7 levels and the boss to unlock the next world.
The Retro Look
Graphics appear as 3D live pixels on single-screen levels. It doesn’t seem like a lot on the surface but I really enjoyed the nods to classic games like Pong, Space Invaders and the microcomputer era in general. The soundtrack is also an addictive mix of techno beats, that might just keep your frustrations at bay while you try to figure out those tricky levels.
Performance-wise this game doesn’t exactly push the Switch to its boundaries so it runs smoothly for the most part. I did encounter some occasions where my pixel would get stuck in a fast-moving platform causing the game to temporarily freak out by speeding up rapidly. But this never crashed the game or required a level restart. If you do need to restart it’s just an instant button press away.
Pixel Coffee Game
For a reasonable entry price, PING REDUX offers plenty of value. With over 100 levels and 12 boss areas, there is a lot to keep you busy. You can also gain a typical three-star rating. But often I was just grateful to finish a level. It’s the kind of game enjoyed in very short bursts. If you only have a minute to spare while you’re waiting for that pasta to boil, that might just be enough time to attempt a few levels in this game.
Conclusion – Scratch the Puzzle Itch
PING REDUX maybe just a punch of pixels but it bursts with originality. A simple and in some ways addictive concept which had me returning to try to conquer the challenging levels. Strangely the lesson I took from this game is sometimes you come across a wall or a problem where the solution seems impossible. You try again and again but you just can’t break through that wall. But you keep trying. You keep coming back. Then one day, during a moment you least suspect, you see the solution appear in your heart and then your head. Then it happens and you win, and the relief that you feel is just something one can’t always put right into words. Sorry, I’m supposed to be talking about a video game.
If you are looking for quick puzzle gaming PING REDUX might just be the video game equivalent of the back scratcher you need to relieve that itch.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot