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Between the Walls review - A confused take on Pong


For: iPhone   Also on: iPad
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Batting ideas around

Product: Between the Walls | Format: iPhone | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Pong has become the archetype, not just for gaming, but for a very simple and pure type of gaming.

What could be easier to parse than the original game of virtual bat and ball? Even your Mum could play it. In fact, your Mum probably did play it.

It's curious, then, that Between the Walls would reference Pong in its promotional Pong when it's so very messy and frustrating to play.

Stop hitting yourself

Okay, so we can see the line of thinking here. Between the Walls forms a sort of single-player game of Pong by wrapping the playing field around itself.

The ball is still bouncing between paddles, but those paddles are arranged in a roughly circular formation (you can choose the paddle count) and linked in their movement. If you allow the ball to bounce out of that circle, it's game over.



The way in which you move that circle of paddles feels oddly constrained and counter-intuitive. You press the screen to rotate the whole bunch of paddles clockwise at a uniform speed.

Even a number of tries in, I still find myself wanting to reverse the rotation somehow, or to speed or slow its progress. As it is, you find yourself clumsily bringing a paddle right around from one side to the next for a fairly minor adjustment.

Something Pongs

In the default random mode, the number of those paddles constantly shifts. In each mode they also change their behaviour as you hit the little square modifiers that spawn in the paddles.

Hit one of these, and a paddle might decide to wiggle or lurch to the side, ending your run. Sometimes the ball itself does. It sounds like a fun way of mixing things up, but the effect is wearying because the game's mechanics aren't on point.

Besides the aforementioned control gripes, the graphics just aren't silky smooth enough nor the physics solid enough to sell you on the proposition. The fact that you can often keep the ball in play for a prolonged spell just by holding the screen, the ball bouncing off the same block again and again, seems indicative of this clumsiness.

Playing with the formula of an established gaming classic is all well and good, but that renewed vision had better be crystal clear and impeccably executed. Between the Walls is neither.
 
Between the Walls review - A confused take on Pong
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 30 August 2018
Between the Walls attempts to do something new and interesting with the Pong formula, but only succeeds in confusing and frustrating
 
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