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Some of the levels are tiresome, like a mid-level clown board, but it’s easy to skip past low points and focus on the quick gameplay that Pong provides. For a brief game of Pong with modern sensibilities, look no further.
It's nice to see such a solid family title produced for the Mac that embodies such humor and general good fun. And that's what this title is: good clean fun, rated E, for Everyone. Do I think it keeps the spirit of the original? Yes. (How can you get the concept of Pong wrong?) Do I think Atari and Macsoft have improved on the original? Yes. The additions certainly do not hurt, and I enjoy all the originality and variety of this Pong. Should you buy this game? Whether you have kids, are generally tired of bloody FPSs and need a change, or just want a fun little lark while revisiting a classic, Pong is a good title to include in your growing Mac library.
The game suffers from overblown Atari nostalgia—by the end, you'll have seen more of the logo than Atari's marketing department did in the early eighties. Its clunky interface is marred by controls you can't modify and poorly designed keyboard presets. Still, Pong is an enjoyable, well-conceived game for a low price. The levels are varied and numerous enough to provide solid entertainment for a good while.
Pong: The Next Level may be a great candidate for those who are looking for something for younger gamers. Just remember that although there's no violence present, some of the arenas require a good bit of skill (or at least tenacity) to beat, and that the mouse may be the only useful controller available. Without a workable multiplayer aspect, however, it's unlikely that this version of Pong would hold anyone else's attention for any great length of time. There is some fun to be had, but in spite of shinier graphics and 3D hooks Pong:The Next Level misses out by not living up to the original's legacy of head-to-head competition. In 2001, Pong can still serve as a casual distraction, but it's just no longer close to being a revolutionary good time.
43 years after its initial invention, this version of Pong is loaded with graphics and animations. While it’s easily more pleasant to look at than a handful of ASCII symbols, overall gameplay ends up much slower, because you’re frequently stuck waiting for animations to play out. For an arcade-type game to gain that coveted quality of addictiveness, you have to be able to build up momentum, and the animations in Pong: the Next Level make that absolutely impossible.