After the videogame crash of 1983, basically the videogame industry orbited around two axis: Europe and Japan. In both cases, the most common sports videogames were about the ones popular in those areas. The japanase company Konami was successful in developing a videogame about a sport popular in Asia, which also became a hit in Europe. Ping Pong, or Table Tennis.
Controller: Joystick de un botón.
Videogames about tennis already existed since the beginnings of the videogame industry, most of them had the same schema: move the virtual tennis player with the controller, and make the swing with the racket using one button.
But the programmers at Konami decided otherwise, and they developed something different for their table tennis videogame. Considering that in this particular sport, the time reaction is more critical than moving around the edge of the table, the videoplayer only sees the racket moving automatically towards the ball. So, you only see the hand of the virtual table tennis player (which written this way is kinda creepy) but it mkes easier where is going the ball… if you can see it.
Well, what has to do the videoplayer then? In the reaction time to hit the ball. In this case, is not using the button of the arcade, but moving the joystick up (smash), left (drive) or right (cut). Every one with different effect at returning the ball towards the rival. The function can be used to add a reverse effect to the hit, or to start the point.
Trust me on this: don’t think too much on which way to return the ball, if so, you’ll probably lose the point. A match is to win 2 of 3 sets, where a set is to win 11 points.
In the title screen, and in the public, appears Penta, the mascot penguin of the company, also you can either see the main protagonist of Track and Field, or its relatives.
The videogame is merciful enough to offer 5 levels, where the lowest is the easiest, which I highly recommend to start playing the game, because you’ll really need to start practicing in this level.
Konami was also considered a top company, due to the amount of really good titles, among them various of sports, for MSX computers, which were amazingly popular both in Japan and in Europe.
This title was a huge hit, I suppose in main part due to the company being good enough at developing in both arcade and MSX computers. So the game in both platforms were almost similar in graphics, sound and control.
As we already mentioned, the MSX computers were popular in Europe, and this game was a big hit. This fact surely motivated in porting the game to other popular computers in what is commonly called the Old World.
Amstrad CPC / Commodore 64 / Sinclair Spectrum
By 1986, the british company Imagine Software in collaboration with Ocean Software, published ports of this game to the popular computer rivals of the MSX ones.
Probably the fact that the original programmers of the videogame were no longer involved in these ports, appeared notorious differences in these ports, being the graphics ones the most easier to catch.
However, the solid of the control schema remained the same, which surely was an important part of the great success of these ports.
Take into account that the Commodore 64 ports needs the joystick connected in port 2. If using an emulator to play the Sinclair Spectrum port, we recommend to specify using the keyboard but mapping the keystrokes in the gamepad.
Famicom Disk System
En 1987, Konami published the videogame for the Famicom, more specifically, the Disk System, with the name Smash Ping Pong.
The game is practically the same, and probably best looking than the MSX port, but with a really increased difficulty, even for Nintendo standards, famous for making their videogames really hard. And we’re only considering the easiest levels, I don’t want to know what the hard levels play.
There are some changes, since obviously Nintendo wanted to market more their characters. Donkey Kong appears between the public instead of the penguin Pentaro. Also the use of the Famicom Disk System official mascot, Diskun, at the title screen.
The last change is that to win a set you need to win 21 points.
Strangely, there were no sequels for this solid title. Consider than few years later, North America rises from its ashes as a videogame market, and Table Tennis was not popular at the time (do not believe Forrest Gump), so probably the videogame companies focused in other sports titles like baseball or american football.
Getting used to the fair new (even to this time) control schema can get some time, but once you get accustomed to it, results very logical and it’s funny.
Sport Icon designed by Smashicons of FlatIcon licensed by CC 3.0 BY.
Console Icons taken from Retroarch.