Genre: VR Sports
Developer: Reddoll Srl
Publisher: Reddoll Srl
Release Date: Febuary 2017
VR Ping Pong is an Indie game developed by Reddoll Srl for PlayStation VR. The game is a simple Ping Pong simulation utilizing a single move controller as a bat. Seems simple enough but VR Ping Pong has actually turned something as amazing as table-tennis into an awkward and poorly put together experience.
Talking of content there are a handful of game modes consisting of practice, arcade, one game and TT Cup which is essentially a mini tournament. This may have been enough to warrant a purchase at a cheap price if the core gameplay wasn’t fiddly and cumbersome. My first impressions of the game were not the most joyous of affairs as I immediately noticed I was too far away from the in-game table. You probably think this would be an easy fix right? Just move closer to the table? Well, you may have severely underestimated the headache involved. After moving to a close enough distance to the table, I instantly ran into a problem with the the PlayStation Camera, or more specifically, the calibration between the game and the camera and move controller. My efforts to return the serves from my crudely represented AI opponent seemed futile as when stretching to reach the short serves led my move controller to go out of the camera’s sight. This would lead to my bat lagging behind my actual movements or just freezing altogether.
I had to radically alter my setup in order to get this game to just slightly playable which hasn’t been an issue with any other VR title I have played since PSVR’s launch. On top of this, due to the very short serves of my opponent, reaching led me to bash my hand against all sorts of objects in my relatively small gaming room.
Graphically the game doesn’t amaze but may still give you that ‘VR is truly incredible’ vibe from just being inside a relatively spacious 3D environment, especially if you have never tried VR before. However, this is more of a compliment to VR as a platform than the game itself. They have gone for a retro 8-bit, blocky kind of aesthetic but with 3D pixelated sprites representing the crowd and your opponent much like something ripped straight out of Picross 3D on the Nintendo DS. When I say 8-bit I use the term very loosely, as I want to assume that’s what they were going for but honestly, it’s more like someone made the game in Minecraft’s creative mode using about 4 different color blocks.
The rudimentary graphics could have been tolerated if the core gameplay was addictive and challenging but while it certainly is challenging it is for all the wrong reasons. Ping-Pong is one of the fastest sports out there believe it or not, but this interpretation is shallow and slow. The game seems to punish you for trying to do anything but underarm swing and all of the AI’s returns are of a similar nature. This means you don’t get awesomely fast paced rallies and powerful serves but instead slowly and pathetically bounce a ball back and forth. Trying a power serve is pretty much pointless unless you want your shot to go laughably wide. It also doesn’t help that my bat never truly felt like it was where my hand should have been due to some calibration issues I mentioned earlier.
Is there something to be found in this game for anyone? Well, I actually think that children might find some amusement in this for a short period of time. The slow paced, underarm rallies might be well suited to those with less hand-eye coordination. It also didn’t cause any motion sickness or dizziness for me and had I actually enjoyed the gameplay, I would have been able to stay hooked up for a long time. For anyone looking for a decent simulation, I would advise staying clear of this one, but if you really really want, and have money to burn, then you could maybe find amusement in this for an hour or two provided you have space.