The New Pong
If you took the zany cast of characters and presentation from Street Fighter and mixed it with classic Pong, you would get Ultra Space Battle Brawl. Displayed through a sport-like venue, this Pong-fighting game offers some heated local multiplayer options and high difficulty battles against some ruthless AI.
Gameplay is very simple and easy to immediately understand; there is no tutorial and there is no need for one. Two players on opposite sides of the screen face off to whack a ball into the opponent’s crystal. Once the crystal takes enough damage, that player loses. Guarding each crystal is a set of barricades that take a couple hits to destroy, just like a game of Arkanoid. This mixture blends two-player Pong with single player Break-Out into heated battles. The Street Fighterness comes into play in the form of super moves that can be unleashed once the power bar fills. These power attacks can range from a nonstop barrage of punches to more power blasts. Each playable character also varies in stats such as speed and power too.
Single player against the computer AI provides a rather challenging experience. The problem is the AI seems to know where the ball is going to go at all times, making luck more of a factor than skill. Defeating the first couple opponents is possible with some struggle but the middle and later stages are extremely difficult. This is because each stage changes with the opponent. Some stages, like the first stage, are straightforward with the crystal extending to the top and bottom of the screen, but later stages incorporate bumpers and smaller crystals. In fact, it is possible to get the ball “stuck” inside the barricade so it bounces around inside the crystal to yield an almost instant defeat.
During single player, the player will encounter bonus games in which the player will have to whack the ball into chickens. This mode basically acts as practice as it is possible to learn how to aim each shot. However, these bonus stages are nowhere as intense as a heated back-and-forth battle where you just need to hit the ball away from your goal; aiming is considered a luxury. If you do manage to complete the single player campaign, an unlockable gallery adds some bonus viewing content.
Ultra Space Battle Brawl isn’t perfect, and it is even a little unfair, but it is always super intense. While there is no online multiplayer, this title does offer easy split Joy-Con support for multiplayer. Playing against your friends and smack talking is really the way to go here. Also, the production values are much higher than you would expect them to be. The pixel art is gorgeous and the ridiculous, over-the-top presentation really gives this title its charm. The soundtrack sounds like it was also ripped from a Mega Man game and the voice quips are entertainingly absurd. Mixing Pong with high-speed action of a fighting game is a surprising good mix and there is a lot of appeal here if you can look beyond the brutal AI.
Wait For it: a new Warlords
Better Than: first gen Pong
Also Try: Air Hockey-e (GBA e-Reader)