June 9th, 2012 | By Minh Tri Nguyen
If there was any good thing about video games a few decades ago, it’s that they have been remade countless times into next-gen gaming. From Tetris to Arkanoid, the same old mechanics are re-imagined with either cutting-edge rendering or retro pixelated art, reviving the fun that our parents had at our age. While Neighbor Warz may revive some of that retro joy, how much joy does it bring to us?
Re-imagining Pong as a conflict between two neighbors, Neighbor Warz does bring some twists to the table. Being a single-player game with no competitive mode, the camera now pans to behind your paddle, akin to a tennis court. The objective of the game requires you to use your paddle by swiping across the screen to control the ball, which is bouncing from one end to another, to wreck down the opponent’s estate, which lies behind the owner’s paddle. Failing to return the ball no longer instantly help your opponent scoring like the original Pong, and both winning and losing is now proved to be a far more daunting task.
The main mode of game takes you through a series of ‘battle’, with new elements being introduced later in the game. New obstacles are popped up on the field, either derailing your ball’s path or annoyingly bringing it back to your side. Other power-ups (or down?) adds further chaos into the game, such as a second temporary ball in play or a pair of missiles to attack the opponent. Progressing further also introducing bigger and better reinforced estates, which effectively lengthening your match. Your opponent also seems to become more cunning over time, but the difference is rather minimal.
Deep down in the game, Pong still shines. Paddling the ball back and forth, and in an uninterrupted flow throughout the match, is definitely fun. Watching the ball bouncing between the back of the opponent’s paddle and his back wall and wreaking unpredictable havoc on his own estate is certainly enjoyable (though the same thing could happen to you, of course). Obstacles being popped up and the chaotic power-ups give the game a good dose of spices in addition to the fun. If you loved Pong, you’ll enjoy the game in the same way.
Fun it may sound, but how the game’s progress lets you enjoy is quite far less bearable. New features being introduced are extremely minimal, and there aren’t many either. They make no significant difference in the gameplay throughout. As mentioned, with the new scoring method, both scoring and losing point is far more difficult. The match is lengthened as a result, further testing your patience. And together with your cunning opponent and chaotic accidents that wreck your house, the whole game feels like a tedious quest just to earn some more fun rather than pure fun itself.
A secondary unlimited mode is also offered, which feels more like the traditional Pong. Still controlling your paddle, you move along a town’s road, bouncing the ball around and destroying as many properties as you can. The alternate way to destroy these houses is to use the paddle itself, but would earn you far less points. Any undamaged estate that leaves the screen would be deducted fromyour points. The session ends when you miss your ball thrice. It’s probably more enjoyable than the main mode, but not addictive enough to keep you occupied for long.
Besides the reliance on Pong, Neighbor Warz did little to get you attracted. The graphic is mediocre at best, with plain and blurry sprites and unimpressive damaged buildings. Some graphical glitches are present, but causing only minimal distraction. Your opponent does have a facial expression according to how he’s faring in the match, but to be honest, it’s neither funny or good-looking and looks more like a student’s programming exercise. Faring no better, there isn’t anything good to say about the game’s repetitive music and so-so sound effects. You’d probably enjoy the whole game more with your own music library.
It’s not to say that you can’t get any fun out of Neighbor Warz. By the end of the day, bouncing the ball back and forth with a paddle is still an adorable fun that you would enjoy. You would probably get all the fun you could, but it would cost you a fair tolerance to mediocre presentation, a great persistence as well as an abnormal obsession with Pong. Fight your neighbor if you want to, just don’t expect an extraordinarily good one.