– Welcome to a new section in the Gamentary hub, the Retro Gaming Reflections, where we wax nostalgia on the games that we played in our youth, the ones we may have missed, and how they helped shape the awesome landscape that videogames have become. basically we had way too much fun talking about some retro gaming in previous posts and decided to devote an entire section on its own. –
so first our first discussion why not start with one of the original games that started it all?
we’re talking PONG!
ok so this game sucks. i really dont care what it started or how many people were impressed by it’s release in the 1970’s, it serves absolutely no challenge whatsoever, unless you are blind or missing hands. the game features two “paddles” rallying a square ball back and forth in hopes of somehow passing the ball past the other players paddle. they then score a point. the game then randomly ends. that’s it.
there really are very few redeeming qualities, and I can attest to that because my girlfriend actually bought one of those 128 in 1 atari game units featuring the original PONG. after a painful rally on the first serve i was done. the ball moves incredibly slow, so slow i cant see how anyone could be scored on… but this brings us to the first innovation PONG brought that is still used today in games; a scoreboard!
every sports game from nhl to nba games feature a scoreboard and without PONG starting it all and who knows if any game producer would have ever thought of keeping track of score to determine a winner….
PONG also used the first analog control scheme, featuring a pool cue ball attached to the videogame mother board to move your paddle (although with graphical limitations, maybe the pong paddle was supposed to a tennis player, i mean hell, the game below is apparently supposed to be racquetball, and below that? raiders of the lost ark… so…)
but PONG did give us analog control, an industry standard in this age despite being unused by videogame consoles in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Nintendo and Sega went digital for their early machines, and it wasnt until Sony stepped into the videogame market that analog control was reintroduced. Atari’s pool cue controller proved difficult for stoners and deadheads to grasp in the sexually liberated 1970’s however, and few machines replicated the design in the battle for quarters against pinball machines and their more accurate paddles.
so what lessons can PONG teach us today? well for one reaching too far back into your past can sometimes be a bad thing. like breaking out an old classic t-shirt you may have kept except its no longer vintage, its actually just trashy and fits too tight. it deserves a place in the hall of fame of videogames purely on its case as being one of the first ever released, but technology and time have certainly not been kind to PONG. even the most appreciative retro gamer will admit to having a hard time going back this far, so this might be a little unfair to be so critical. we wouldnt compare a new iMac to the apple II would we?