Monday 25 March 2024

qomp2 Review (Switch)


Atari’s recent decision to mine its back catalogue shows no signs of abating, but as the quality has been excellent it’s not exactly a bad thing. This week’s classic franchise given a twist, is of all things, Pong. This really does take the ‘spiritual successor’ tag and stretch is considerably but if you’ve ever wondered what would happen if the ball from Pong broke free from the confines of its two paddles, then this is the game for you.

The control system is remarkably simple. The ball bounces around the screen and you have the option of pressing A to change its direction by 90 degrees or holding the shoulder button to charge up a super boost that can break through certain blocks. That’s it, the ball bounces around under its own inertia continually and aside from being affected by various environmental situations, like water, its basically a case of keeping it from hitting hazards.

There are thirty levels spread across four worlds with each new world adding new elements into the mix. It’s starts out quite simply by just giving you spikes to avoid but you’ll soon encounter locked doors and breakable blocks, creatures that chase you around levels and of course good old fashioned lasers and electric hazards. Things escalate quickly here and in order to beat the game you’ll likely need to avoid throwing your switch against a wall more than once. The symbols that turn your ball into a game of snake are particularly brutal. 

To counteract the frustration, each of the levels is fairly compact and also have a decent number of checkpoints in them. This means its rare that defeating something challenging doesn’t bring you to the end or at least the safety of the next save. There are also some interesting boss fights here which are designed well and are a lot of fun to take on.

The look of the game mimics the minimalist style of its source material by keeping the black and white colour scheme of the original Pong for most of the game. It’s not all without colour though as various hazards and blocks add dashes of blue and red here and there. In a further nod to the past the screen normally presents itself in a sort of semi-fish eye viewpoint mimicking televisions of old.

Overall, qomp2 is another example of Atari finding yet more gold in its continual cycle of its back catalogue reworking. It is incredibly hard later on, but everything works well. The controls are simple and effective and as frustrating as it is, every death is the players fault. Some sections will have you really thinking about the inertia of the ball to get through but it always remains consistent to it's own rules. This is a clever and surprising twist on a basic formula and one that works excellently.

Overall 8/10



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