While 3D Slam Ping-Pong's concept is simple, the game's modes and fast pace make a winning combination.
Sorrent's 3D Slam Ping-Pong offers a fun, simple game that overcomes some documentation issues with strong gameplay. While it may take a little effort to puzzle out the game's controls, the multiple modes and solid design make this an enjoyable title.
3D Slam Ping-Pong pits you against an artificially intelligent opponent in that classic sport of basements, rec rooms, and garages across the world--Ping-Pong. You duel with a computer opponent--represented by a floating, red triangle--from a first-person-perspective view of a Ping-Pong table. While a triangular antagonist might sound a bit lame, the graphic effectively shows you where your opponent is lined up to return a shot without confusing you or cluttering the scene. What the game lacks in aesthetic appeal, it makes up for in clarity. By using the 4, 5, and 6 keys on your phone, you react to an opponent's shot to the left, middle, and right of your end of the table, respectively. If you use the wrong key--such as trying to use the 4 key to hit a shot that flies to the right--your attempted return misses. The D pad allows you to aim a shot to the right or left, and holding down a key generates a faster, more difficult shot to return. The most powerful shots--slams--are key to racking up points. However, since you must let go of a key to make a return shot, waiting too long to build up your return's power can be costly. If you try to slam a fast shot, you might not be able to build up enough power before the ball shoots off the table. Two meters provide a visual guide to your shot's power and its right or left aim.
Gameplay is a combination of timing, anticipation, and tactics. When you face rocket-fast shots that are screaming across the table, you need good reflexes and timing to make an effective return. Putting your paddle on a shot is sometimes not enough, because a weak, slow shot is an invitation to the AI to send a scorching shot back at you. The game is at its best during a furious volley, since you must scramble to keep the ball in play. The use of three buttons to represent the range of locations across the table gives you a good feel for the ebb and flow of a game. During a rapid volley, you must choose a button fast or else your fluttering return shot proves perfect fodder for a return slam. Make a wrong choice, and you're forced to watch helplessly as the ball bounces off the table.
While 3D Slam Ping-Pong's concept is simple, the game's modes and fast pace make a winning combination. You can play a standard match to 21 points in beginner or expert mode. The expert version presents faster shots and does a better job of angling them. Many times, you must wait until the last moment to commit to a right, left, or middle return shot. You can also play against a computerized foe in quick mode, which scores two points rather than one point per volley, thus cutting a standard game's length in half.
The deuce game mode places you in the expert mode with a game score that is tied at 20. The first player to pull a two-point lead wins. The rally mode is the final and most enjoyable option available for play. In it, your relentless opponent never misses a shot. Here, you score one point for each shot you return. Since the standard game mode can take several minutes to complete, the deuce and rally modes are good for quick games.
3D Slam Ping-Pong's greatest weakness lies in its documentation. The information provided with the game is woefully thin. The instructions claim that the three control buttons are used to return shots hit to the back, pocket, or fore area. This makes it sound as if the ball's placement--near the net, in the middle of your half of the table, or far from it--determines which button to use. However, after a few frustrating games, it's clear that the buttons correspond to the left, middle, and right sections of the table. It takes a few games to get a feel for which button is appropriate for different parts of the table, but each button has enough overlap that borderline shots can be returned with two of the three buttons.
Overall, 3D Slam Ping-Pong provides an enjoyable gaming experience. The rally mode, in particular, is a nice way to pass a few moments with frenetic, Ping-Pong action.