#2 Pong

Posted: 22nd November 2010 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

It’s the first game!!!

Genre: Sports game
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1972
Developer: Atari
Publisher: Atari

The year is 2184 and evolution has brought us to our pinacle. Humanity consists of paddles and has but one goal in life: Stay entertained by throwing balls at…

Okay, never mind. There’s no story in Pong. There’s no real point. It’s an early form of table tennis. Move a paddle up and down and bounce a ball back and forth. Don’t hit it and when it hits the back wall, it explodes and the opponent gains a point. That’s it.

Our playthrough

After a false start, we did the one thing we could with this game: A straight 1 vs 1 Pong match to the death. Or to the end of the game, which ended up being 11-5 for us. In Peter’s favour. In my defense, I won the first trial match. He did win the second one, but I clearly have the intuition advantage here.

Our Thoughts

I still can’t believe that you broke the bloody thing. If you play a game like this, you have to push it to the limit. blah blah blah.


Probably an integer wraparound that caused a wrong position on the screen. In layman’s terms he magicked onto the top and the bottom at the same time and because of a neat trick in the original design the paddles do not go all the way up or down, apparently to make sure a game could not go on infinitely.


Well, it was just at the top, it just made it look like it was also on the bottom. Yea, but the paddle could not reach all the way to the bottom in our version and I exploited that sweet spot with a wicked shot. Just once, though, and I got close a few times.

Yea but you never succeeded and that’s why I won 11-5. You’re more easily fooled by a sudden last second move you made out of nowhere and you’re more easily able to break an Atari classic. That’s me, I suppose.

And a classic for sure, by the way. It’s cool to play it on laptops… if a little awkward.


The book features one earlier game, but this is the game that really started it all. The only previous one is The Oregon Trail. A game only I have played before since it came installed on my first PC. And no I am not a time travelling journalist from the 1970s, sometimes I wish I were…

… Yeah. Anyway, Pong’s certainly the game that entered the public consciousness and is known as the early video game, and one that’s still replicated in other situations, often as some Easter egg or similar. I remember it being included as bonus game in some of the Commander Keen games.

I remember it for being in an advert with Andy Roddick where he had to play tennis against it. A lack-lustre volley always defeats Pong. That’s not exactly playable… but really? It’s like playing badminton against a brick wall, a weak shot and you always win.

Anyway, it’s clear to see why it would become a game that lasted that long. These days, we’re used to more, but it’s a fun, simple game. And if you’re not careful, it can get quite addictive.

It still stands up in the face of realistic graphics and RPG storylines that make you cry. It’s a classic example of K.I.S.S. which still endures to this day. Granted, there was a lawsuit about the originality of the game… but that’s for Wikipedia to educate.

Yeah, that’d be interesting to look up. As another testament to its simplicity – the game is entirely done in hardware, no software, no code was written for it. In other words, there are no microchips or anything like that involved – it’s all based on how things were soldered together. That’s an impressive achievement too. Like a bicycle. Yes, and unlike a car these days.

Right, so it’s time to break out the Wii Balance Board. You’re investigating Wii Fit! Seemingly so. From the oldest game to something quite new. Although both still seem to feature bars and hitting them, just in one case with a featureless 3D woman in the background. …and both have a chance of causing a sports injury. Fun times…

I look forward to watching you try the yoga. Of course you will. I will see whether it’s actually going to be fun doing any yoga. I am not yet convinced.

Final Thoughts

As first game played, this is obviously the best and worst played so far – a list we will be making later as we get more into it. If nothing else, this is the classic that started a lot. That, as well as its gameplay, fun experience  and the sheer delight of letting a square miss your opponent’s rectangle, will mean this game will most likely outlive the vast majority of games now out there and coming out now.

  1. […] the game’s release Pang (try not to confuse this with Pong) was critically lauded and received numerous ports across all the major consoles of the day. It was […]

  2. […] really do not get much older than this (with the exception of the earlier covered game Pong and the first actual game on the […]

  3. […] now for a trip back in time. One of the oldest game in the books, we now move slightly past Pong and Breakout to the first shoot ‘em up on the list. Considering the size of the genre and how […]

  4. […] a simple game – sure, more advanced than Pong or Boot Hill, but still focused on doing a single thing well. It feels rare these days – […]

  5. […] there’s a game that emulates Pong with its graphics – the only other game looking as simple that I can think of is One-Dot […]

  6. […] we’re playing a game we’ve reserved for this spot from the start. As explained before, Pong is game two on the list – it mostly made for a catchier title and started our trend of not […]

  7. […] mechanics inside a bunch of other game genres. Bit. Trip Core is the second in the series, after Pong-based game Bit. Trip Beat and before endless runners, shooters and more. They share the rhythm […]

  8. […] post is going up 11 years, to the day (though perhaps not time) after we covered our first game, Pong. Our goal was to play the final game in the book as the final game for this blog, after trying to […]