Pong Toss Pro: Frat Party Games
WiiWare | JV Games Inc. | 1 Player / 2-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now (North America) | 500 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer)
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15th July 2010; By KnucklesSonic8
If you're like me and never played the original game, here's what the concept entails. You have a series of plastic cups positioned at the other end of the table. You take aim using a ping pong ball and try to land it inside one of these cups to accumulate points. Once you've made a successful throw, the cup will disappear. Over time, as the empty spots create gaps, the remaining targets automatically rearrange themselves, reducing the amount of frustration that could otherwise be had. Sinking multiple balls in succession will increase your multiplier, and display encouraging phrases such as "Wicked!" with accompanying pictures. Doing really well will even cause your ball to leave a trail as if it were on fire. But don't get too cocky, because there's still lots of room for you to mess up. In the end, the first person to clear their share of cups wins the game.
On-screen is an animated hand that moves based on how you raise or lower your Wii Remote. After moving into place with the D-Pad, you're then ready to set up your shot. Depending on how you position the controller in the air, the icon at the bottom of the screen will measure the height of the arc that will be applied to your shot. When you're ready, thrust the Wii Remote forward to give the ping pong ball a light toss. Don't be surprised if you mess up a lot of shots before finally getting it right.
Becoming an expert at the game is all in the technique. Studying the height of the arc (as indicated by the guide) and controlling the amount of power you put into your throw makes all the difference in the world. It's also important, too, to consider the distance you are away from the cups. And if you need help gaining further understanding, why not use the rectangular coffee table you have in your living room. Mastering the system boils down to trial and error at first, but once you get the hang of it, you`ll make fewer and fewer mistakes. And the accuracy of the system means that if you're not getting any points, it's not the fault of the game.
There are two different gameplay variations that make use of this principle. The first is Pong Toss, the standard mode of play where up to 4 players play alternatingly. Before your turn, you can practice your shot for up to 15 seconds before the real deal. Now in Speed Pong, participants play simultaneously by means of a vertical split-screen. Now here's where things get interesting. Successfully landing a shot in cups with icons lurking overhead will award you with a special power-up that will temporarily affect the performance of your opponents. For example, 'Shrinkage' will make your rival's cups thinner, and 'Barn Doors' will create two partitions that open and close, requiring you to time your shots carefully. These definitely add some variety, and make things more challenging for experienced players.
Both modes also feature a separate Tournament option whereby you can create your own bracket for the people at your home. Up to 16 people can be registered, each with their own names and basic male or female character representation. If your friends enjoy creating your own tournaments in other party games (such as Wii Sports Resort), you'll definitely appreciate this feature. There's also a Free Play area where you can practice to your heart's content with no pressure of competition breathing down your neck. And finally, the High Score menu will keep track of your best performances in each mode, listing accuracy ratings alongside your top scores. It's a shame that you can't save your own Profiles and access them later on, so you can track your overall wins and losses.
Before each match begins, you can customize the experience to the way you'd like. You can toggle the Bounce rule, choose from 6 table designs and 3 environments. The backgrounds are appropriate to the setting, but I think they could've added a few more, in particular ones with more colour. The announcer from Dart Rage makes a return here with new phrases to keep things interesting, even motivating when he starts to ridicule you. The genre of music is also similar to Dart Rage, as the game is full of rock-based tracks. If you give either of these a shot and get annoyed, you can access the Pause Menu to turn them off, or in the case of the music, you can even choose a different song.
Playing against computers is pretty challenging and fairly realistic, plus it affords you the opportunity to practice your skills. But playing on your own gets boring after a while, which comes as little surprise since this is meant to be played in a group setting. That being said, when playing with more than one person in Pong Toss, the action can be kind of slow, which can be a problem for a game like this. And the fact that the characters in the background don't look riveted at all doesn't help. This is why Speed Pong is definitely the best way to play. This mode can be heated fun for amongst friends, so if you're contemplating giving this a purchase, try to think of people who might like to take it for a spin.
The inspirations behind this game are rooted in a drinking game that's quite popular amongst young adults. But if you weren't aware of this fact, you wouldn't be able to tell, since there are no references to alcoholism at all in the game. If anything, Big Blue Bubble's Pub Darts had a greater presence of this element than Pong Toss Pro does. And that's not a bad thing, nor is it an oversight on the part of the development team. Keeping the atmosphere clean results in an experience that even children can still have fun with.
I'm very interested to see where the developers go from here. After all, "Frat Party Games" does seem to suggest that more games are coming in this series. Whether they will see a need to continue this or not remains to be seen. However, if they do, I'm sure they've learned much from these two games. I'm sure the developers expected some harsh reception from the critics, even with the improvements made. But it's become clear that the motivation behind this release was to improve upon the original experience that actually provided some gamers with lasting enjoyment. To that end, I think they've done a good job at making the game fun to play at small or large gatherings. The asking price is reasonable, so again, if you think you can grab a few buddies who might enjoy this, spend the points and don't take yourselves too seriously.
20/30 - Good
Gameplay 7/10 - A concept that doesn't exactly carry a lot of depth, power-ups in Speed Pong add variety, score multipliers for advanced players
Presentation 6/10 - Lots of dark tones, the game needs more colour and brightness, models look a bit dull and somewhat impatient, decent music
Enjoyment 3/5 - Can be varying degrees of fun depending on how seriously you and your friends take it, Speed Pong can get very tense
Extra Content 4/5 - Multiple modes of play, tournament brackets for larger groups, motivational announcer, high-scores, could've allowed multiple profiles
Equivalent to a score of 67% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)