Often times when playing an indie game, one will quickly discover just how much creativity can be brought out in a game that won\’t be found on larger titles that tend to not stray too far from the safer practices. Ping 1.5+ is a prime example of game creativity although at first glance its visuals may turn many away.
Ping 1.5+ can best be described as an \”arcade style\” puzzle game. The mechanics of the game are straight forward and easy to grasp, but as you would expect from a good puzzle games, this one is easy to learn but difficult to master. The game is mainly played off your GamePad presenting you with various levels that are made up of a fixed area, a white cube and an orange sphere. The game can be played on the TV as well as with the analog stick and buttons but I found it easier to use the touch screen.
The point of the game is to fling your white cube around obstacles and into the orange sphere in as few bounces as possible. Depending on how many shots and bounces you take you will be rewarded with either a bronze, silver or gold star. There is a limit as to how many times the cube can bounce and once that limit is exceeded the cube shatters resulting in a failed try. The game is simple enough that it\’s enjoyable to pick up and play, but challenging enough to maintain your attention. At first the controls are a bit unintuitive mainly because games such as Angry Birds have taught us to pull back to fling, whereas Ping1.5+ has you pull in the direction of where you want your cube to go. This is very minor however and by the second or third puzzle it won\’t even be noticed anymore.
The game is divided into 12 worlds that each have 8 levels and 1 boss stage resulting in a lot of content to play through. Each world also has its own theme and puzzle mechanic. For example, one world revolves around controlling the speed that you fling your cube whereas another one will have invisible blocks. Each level always has something fresh and new to offer that you\’ll want to keep playing just to see what kind of curve ball the game will throw at you next. After beating the world\’s 8 feats, you can challenge the boss level which is really a reward as they play so differently from the regular levels. Each boss stage could actually be bundled together into their own mini-game compilation. The objectives in these stages change from hitting an orange sphere to anything from destroying a giant 3D sphere-like foe, or defending your base from an infinite amount of missile barrages. These boss levels are set-up to play like old arcade games and encourage the player to aim for a high score. They are one of the game\’s highlights and personally one of my favorite sections.
The game can\’t be talked about without mentioning its difficulty curve. This game is hard, plain and simple. Some levels even discouraged me simply from looking at them. However once you start pinging around and thinking outside the box the impossible starts to become a bit more possible. While the difficulty never feels completely unfair it will most likely turn off many players looking for a more casual experience. Because of the hard difficulty, the player will need to replay a level multiple times and unfortunately there is no way to quickly reset the stage when it\’s obvious the player has failed. This can make it frustrating as you either have to pause the game and exit the level to restart, or wait until the cube exhausts its bouncing limit which can sometimes take a while. Luckily the \”You Lost\” screen is accompanied by a happy upbeat music that encourages you to give it another go instead of laughing in your face.
One of the noticeably weaker aspects of the game is the visual presentation. At first the game looks very unimpressive however as you warm up to it, there is a certain charm to be found in the style. The game has a very arcade like look which is accompanied by an appropriate retro beat. While the developer has managed to create a unique feel to each world with simple colorful cubes, the game could be more appealing and engaging with better polished visuals. Additionally, any fan of gaming who\’s familiar with the short history of the industry will appreciate the vast amounts of homage included throughout the game.
In closing, Ping 1.5+ is a fun and challenging game with a vast amount of content and creative ideas. The fan of puzzle games or one who appreciates geometry will find a lot of enjoyment from this game. The game does suffer from some weak visuals but overall they manage to acquire a certain charm as one progresses through the game. Some tweaks to speed up the time to retry a level would have gone a long way to make the game\’s difficulty a bit more tolerable. Aside from these nitpicks, Ping 1.5+ is a game that stands amongst the best in the Wii U\’s library of puzzle genre.