Sports games aren’t my favorite. They’re probably at the bottom of my list when it comes to genres I want to play, yet here we are playing a ping pong game in virtual reality. King Pong, by Iconik Studio, is a VR arcade ping pong game set in a Tron-like ’80s atmosphere. This isn’t your classic game of ping pong though. VR isn’t quite like real life just yet so we need some kind of assist when playing certain games, which is why King Pong makes it so that it is impossible to miss the table, just your returns. Not only that, King Pong features special strikes that could mean the difference between winning and defeat.
The first thing you’ll notice about King Pong is the art style. It’s very retro and full of neon colors set against very dark backgrounds. Most of it is just outlines with variations in thickness which does draw comparisons to Tron. If you’re a fan of Tron, it literally feels like you’re playing table tennis in the Grid. This was a popular style for games back in the ’80s so it’s quite nostalgic seeing it here. The audio in the game is also pretty good and very techno. It has that electric synth vibe going on which matches the art style.
In terms of gameplay, King Pong makes it easy for novices who have never played ping pong to jump right in. The ball doesn’t really travel that fast so it makes it fairly easy to return the ball back to your opponent. The only time where you might have some challenge is when the opponent hits it to you with a special strike. Speaking of which, special strikes can be earned by creating a “connect four” across your opponent’s side of the table. Basically, a square lights up on their side wherever the ball lands. If you create a line with adjoining squares, you earn a special strike.
Anyways, back to what makes King Pong a less frustrating experience is also the fact that you can never really miss where the ball gets returned. No matter what, the ball will always land on the opponent’s side of the table, no matter how softly or how hard you strike it. The amount of force you hit the ball also doesn’t affect speed so you’re better off just trying to hit it correctly and not worrying about how hard you hit it. That brings me to the real world. Play King Pong with plenty of space because you need a pretty good deal of space to move around from side to side as well as space to swing your arms. I already had one issue where I ran into a piece of furniture and another instance where I hit something with my arms.
Modes of play in King Pong include Story, Practice, and Online. The story is good for solo play while Online is good for multiplayer. I would suggest going through the Tutorial mode if you’ve never played before too.
In terms of being a virtual reality game, King Pong is actually pretty well done. It’s got a cool retro-futurist look to it and an amazing soundtrack. Not only that, the gameplay is pretty solid and works well in VR. It’s a game that anyone can get into and when you do get better at it, you can just up the difficulty setting for more of a challenge. This is one of the better sports VR games out there so if you want to try something different, King Pong is a great option.
KING PONG is available now on Steam VR.
Disclaimer: Received game from developer and/or publisher for coverage purposes.
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