Review: Ping 1.5+

How does Ping 1.5+ fare against other Wii U eShop games?

By Anthony Vigna. Posted 10/28/2014 09:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Beautiful retro-inspired aesthetics; Awesome boss battles; Highly replayable.
Poison Mushroom for...
Frustrating difficulty; No quick restart button; Level glitches.

One of my favorite Wii U eShop games to date is Aban Hawkins & the 1001 Spikes. Despite being a point A to point B platformer with simple controls, the game is known for its notoriously hard difficulty. When I first picked it up and died continuously, I felt powerless as the game taunted me with its death screen. Yet, as I continued to press on, I discovered that the game was far from impossible. I learned everything about the world of 1001 Spikes and its numerous traps through my failures, leading me to breeze through the levels easily over time. Sure, it’s still a difficult game, but it has a perfect level of difficulty that makes the game fun and not frustrating.

In a way, Ping 1.5+ is pretty similar to 1001 Spikes since it takes a simple concept and makes it very difficult to accomplish. In Ping 1.5+, your objective is to launch a white cube from its starting position to the orange sphere goal in each level. The gameplay sounds simple, but the difficulty comes from the level design and the set restrictions on your cube. By restrictions, I mean the amount of times that you can shoot your cube and the number of bounces it can handle. If you have multiple shots, you’ll have to use them as the cube is moving since it is constantly in motion. However, these shots are easy to execute because the game automatically slows down once you start aiming.

For the most part, Ping 1.5+ plays really well. You will fail a lot in each level, but each failure gives you a better understanding of how every level functions. Using the ability to slow down time is essential for levels with moving platforms, as it gives the player the ability to time their shots effectively. Even though the game features a simplistic art style, the use of bright colors and dynamic backgrounds makes everything pop and look fantastic. The game also uses its aesthetics to reference old Atari games, like Pong and Pitfall, which fits really well with the game’s art style. There’s a boss battle in every world, which features different gameplay mechanics from the standard levels to add variety. The references to old videogames really shine in these levels because they often emulate different kinds of games. In the retro-inspired boss battles, I played Ping 1.5+ versions of games like Missile Command and Space Invaders, which was absolutely incredible to experience.

Unfortunately, not every level hits the perfect sweet spot in difficulty. I understand that this game is supposed to be difficult, but some levels are absolutely frustrating due to their design. Some levels have ridiculous constraints on the number of shots and bounces, while others have a plethora of fast moving obstacles that are hard to get past due to their short movement range. World 6 has a boss that is borderline impossible. It takes the concept of the awesome Space Invaders boss in World 7 and drastically lowers your rate of fire, spawns enemies that are practically on top of you without any kind of shelter for attacks, and has constantly respawning enemies that take multiple hits to defeat. Keep in mind that this difficulty curve is in a world before another with an easier version of the same boss battle! Without the cheat code that unlocks all the game’s levels, I would have never been able to see the rest of the game’s worlds because there’s no way to skip a hard level. As a huge fan of games like 1001 Spikes, I have no problem with high levels of difficulty, but it should be fair and not overly frustrating.

Another flaw with Ping 1.5+ is its lack of a quick reset button. If you navigate through the game’s options, you can toggle on the ability to restart a level after a failed attempt, but there is no way to restart the level mid-game. For a game that prides itself on its high difficulty, I’m baffled that something as simple as a restart button doesn’t exist. There were plenty of scenarios where I shot the cube and immediately knew that I did something wrong, yet I was forced to watch my attempt end or exit the whole level entirely to try again. On top of that, some levels have some interesting glitches involving moving platforms. If you shoot at a moving platform with slow speed, the cube can get stuck and waste all of the allowed bounces for the level. Other moving platforms stay in motion during the game’s pause screen, making hard levels easily exploitable with the right timing.

Even though Ping 1.5+ lacks balance in difficulty and polish in its gameplay, I still had tons of fun with it. Not all of the levels have sporadic difficulty curves, as some offer the perfect level of challenge and are incredibly rewarding to complete. Not only that, but the game’s three star ranking system encourages the player to complete levels more efficiently, greatly increasing the game’s overall replayability. It may not be perfect, but games like Ping 1.5+ prove that there are great eShop games out there for Wii U owners to experience.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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