Beach Ping Pong
It's fun, but there isn't enough of it...
In general Modojo has been a big supporter of Digital Chocolate's vision for mobile gaming. Nearly all of the company's titles are an engrossing mixture of stylized visuals and accessible gameplay, and manage to cross hardcore and casual gamer boundaries. Lately, however, some titles (and Beach Ping Pong is a great example) seem to be mistaking accessibility with shallowness.
Don't get me wrong - Beach Ping Pong is a fun game, and like most of DChoc's greats it's possible to lose yourself in the unique rhythm for extended periods of time. The game is controlled solely with the center button or 5 key, but this one-button setup hides a surprising amount of depth. By holding the button early and then releasing it as the ball approaches, you can charge your shots, giving later matches an anticipatory edge. You can't just hold the button the entire time to always volley at full power, however. Holding slides your return location (represented by a target) across the table - hold too long, and you'll hit your shot out of bounds.
Additionally, hitting the button again just after a ball has been returned will put some spin on it, further confounding the AI opponents. I was surprised just how fun this one-button setup can be. The rhythm of "hold, hold, tap tap" just feels good.
My big issue with the game is that there doesn't seem to be any desire to do too much with this fundamentally fun formula. There are six tournaments, but all are basically the same, besides the AI putting up a greater challenge later on. And that's basically it - some tournies, and a Quick Play option. I'd like to see some training minigames, where we volley against a wall or try and get the ball through some hoops. Or a real career mode in place of generic beach tournaments, where you can level up your skills and buy more advanced paddles, instead of being awarded one every now and then.
I suppose the lack of real depth is fitting given the subject matter. This is beach ping pong, after all. But still Digital Chocolate has proven with titles like Tower Bloxx that a simple, addicting concept can be the foundation for a more long-lasting, ambitious mobile game. This one is fun, but it could use some more meat.
What's Hot: A surprising amount of control for a one-button game
What's Not: Has no ambition