Pong has been around since the dawn of arcade gaming. Move your paddle to block the balls entering your goal and bat them back to your opponent. Crash Bash on the PS1 turned this into a great 4 player arena game a bit like the board game Hungry Hungry Hippos and I loved it. Paddles is an extension of that mini game. 4 players, 4 paddles, 12 balls and only three lives each. Last player standing wins.
It’s a simple formula that allows up to 4 players and bots to battle out across over 30 single screen arenas. The movement is simple and you have a dash to quickly cover ground that requires a bit of a recharge. The trajectory of how a ball hits your paddle is how it bounces off so there’s no real skill level or tricks to learn either. Its about keeping your eyes on where all the balls are and reacting quickly when they head your way.
The main modes in Paddle focus on 4 player arenas and they are all shaped differently or have moving pieces. A circular clock hands clock hands pushing balls around. A banana has awkward bends in. Kiwi has square kiwi blocks in the centre to act like pillars. Sometimes players face each other but othertimes you may all be on the same wall and you’ll be pushing balls upwards hoping they don’t all come back down on you. Then there are some other layouts like the harmonium level where its two contracting long lanes where its two 1v1 players for survival. The final set are smaller levels like pistons where each player is given multiple balls to juggle in a tight space on their own. All these arenas add so much variety and spice to the game, it increases Paddles’ longevity.
The secondary mode is a 2 player duel mode and feels more like traditional Pong. These arenas again are different with pillars, moveable barriers and things to catch the ball on to change up the state of play. Alongside this you can also swap out different ball types for different effects too. Bots work well enough but usually stall out as more balls are added to the game and you’ll rarely see them survive beyond 8 balls in play. Put in some humans though and Paddles becomes a retro inspired, cute local multiplayer hit.
Paddles works best in bursts of up to 30 minutes. I had great fun playing it and alongside Suprapong on PC, its one of the better multiplayer pong games out there recently. Easy to pick up and with enough variety at its price point to give a good many hours of simpler entertainment, pick it up for some purist arcade joy.
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