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Pong: Battle Royal v1.7
(Budfish Software)

"Combat and Pong like the world has never seen"

Long before video games had $3 million dollar budgets and massive marketing campaigns, what made or broke a video game was only its gameplay. Atari realized this when putting out their first video game system, and knew that an entertaining title would have to make the future of video games a reality. Thus Pong was invented, and the video game craze began.

But now it's the future, and the game called Pong has taken a frightening turn in QB! Instead of paddles, now you control space vehicles, armed with powerful weapons. Use these weapons to shoot down your opponent before he can return your serve. There are even bombs which allow for mega-damage! This time it's more than Pong... this is Pong Battle Royal!

Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
This is the one area where Budfish Software really wanted to improve their product. The implementation of starfields in this game gave what used to be a bland black battleground some life. And, more and more, the in-game graphics are matching the detail of Pong: Battle Royal's title screen and other features.

The art used in Pong: Battle Royal is pretty much a pumped-up version of the monochrome graphics from the Atari Pong. Each of the weapons and vehicles are drawn with a sense of individuality. Choosing which vehicle to use in Pong feels like visiting a Toys R Us and choosing a Matchbox or Hot Wheels car. Really cool.

There are also graphic changes within Pong: Battle Royal that bump it up in terms of graphics points. The game is noticeably less flickery than the previous version. The status bar to the left is also more detailed than in Version 1.4. This version of Pong: Battle Royal is practically flickerless; I also noticed that there is a lot more shots fired by the CPU. As a result, you can notice just how many objects are animated on the screen simulataneously while you're playing.

After much analysis, this game has clearly moved yet another notch up in the graphics department. The technical fine-tuning by Budfish Software from the first version to this final one is top-notch.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
N/A Strangely enough, the original Pong does surpass Pong: Battle Royal in one category. In terms of sound and music, Pong: Battle Royal does not have either available.
Gameplay (n.)The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe vv
In terms of delivery, Battle Royal doesn't really divert much from the original Pong. You play a round against a tricky opponent, bouncing a ball back and forth and trying to get the ball so that your opponent can't reach it with his paddle and continue the exchange.

The key element that separates Battle Royal from the original Pong is the weapons. Before playing Pong you are allowed to choose from  five different vehicles, each having it's own attack and speed rating. One big difference between this version of Pong: Battle Royal and its predecessor lies in your choice of vehicle. The faster vehicles are better for bouncing the ball and playing the traditional Pong game, while the more powerful vehicles can keep fast players busy by trying to blow up the competition. This gives Pong: Battle Royal some real depth, as your computer opponent will also adjust to your vehicle's strengths and weaknesses.

Another improvement in Pong: Battle Royal from the version before is the advent of power-ups. These power items are captured with your missile weapon, and can do anything from increase your shields to refill your missile supply. Eventually the game becomes a two-part formula, where victory in a match relies in a mixture of your combat and Pong skills.

Sorely though, I did notice a slight drop in the control department. It's slightly rougher to move the Pong vehicle in this final version of Pong: Battle Royal than in versions before. Perhaps having a starfield and removing the flicker comes with it's sacrifices. This may be an acceptable sacrifice considering that graphics in QB games are becoming more paramount than before.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
Budfish Software was somehow able to insert a story into this hyperspace Pong game in a sort of Street Fighter way, by giving each Pong vehicle a pilot and a race. This helps give each vehicle even more individuality, and helps you keep in some form of character while playing a match.
Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
A wise man once said, "Anything less or more than the original is not Pong." Most of the time, this is true. I remember playing the Playstation version of Pong and being angered by the way they modernized the Atari version with hyped-up graphics and a rapid debotchery of the Pong's original gameplay.

But Pong: Battle Royal is not guilty of the same trends. Sure, there could have been more options in this game that would divert this arcade game to another genre, perhaps a shooter had the weapons feature been further exploited. But instead, Battle Royal keeps the ball/paddle exchange as the center of it's gameplay. And since Pong is the epicenter of gameplay and Pong: Battle Royal was able to assimilate the heart of Pong successfully, this deserves a three-star rating.

Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
Making the AI for Battle Royal must have been as simple as a couple of IF/THEN statements. For what's it worth, I never felt like the computer was cheating though. The enemy paddle moves realistically in accordance to the ball and as long as you're persistent you will score higher than your computer opponent. The real challenge is making sure you don't miss the ball when it's your turn to hit it.
Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
While this game had Pong written all over it, there was a futuristic element in this game that really reminded me of N64's Extreme G franchise. This version is definitely improved from its previous version, to the point that this title suffers nearly no faults. The power-up system and shields also help to give this game some depth. It's too bad this game doesn't come with sound effects. Whether Budfish Software throws in some arcade-style sounds or some crowd cheering, the feeling of an Intergalactic tournament within this game is almost complete.
Players 1 player Genre: Arcade Game
Rating To solve: N/A Final Rating: 14/35

To download this game, click here.
Installation Tip
wTo play Pong: Battle Royal, unzip the file and run "PONG.EXE".

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