Candied, crushed sago't gulaman
[Every Tuesday, we… tues a free browser game that you can play in five minutes.]
This marks the third hour that I’ve been playing Another Pong. There’s something hypnotic about how the ball traces lazy contrails back and forth the screen like a blurry green comet, eluding me like it were my true love. Or answers. Answers to the question that impelled me to play this game in the first place:
Where is the other Pong?
Another Pong follows the indie art game trend of taking a classic and slightly modifying one of its key mechanics. Call it cheating all you want, Internet, but it works. Otherwise, games like Caret Games’ Retro/Grade and Jonathan Blow’s Braid wouldn’t see the acclaim they currently enjoy. There’s an alchemical formula to this, I believe, with nostalgia and familiarity acting as key integers. Design and mechanics will ultimately drive the game forward to burrow into people’s consciousness, but take a popular game and tweak it to tease the mind in certain ways, and you might have the next indie darling on your hands.
Another Pong teases and it teases it well. The layout is Spartan at best and amateurish at worst, clearly cultivating a devil-may-care rawness with the visual aesthetic. The game is technically similar to Pong in every way: there are no power-ups, the scoring system’s intact. But there are these tiny differences. Tiny differences that just bug me. Why are the paddles so seductively concave? Why is the ball green? Why is there music playing at the title screen and nowhere else? Why can’t I pause or exit my current game like I were in some kind of virtual Sartrean purgatory?
What is the other Pong?
Another Pong can be found on multiple websites. Despite its proliferation, no one has unlocked its secrets yet. Maybe you will. Maybe not. I don’t care. I don’t care about anything else other than finding it. Finding that other Pong.
Why is the other Pong?