Published on June 26th, 2013 | by James Maxwell2
Pombie Zong Game Review
Pombie Zong is essentially Pong on steroids. Just take away the second player, swap the ball for a deadly saw blade, and throw some zombies into the mix and you’ll find yourself with a hugely entertaining twist on an arcade classic.
Pombie Zong takes a unique spin on the classic game Pong. If you’re too young to know what Pong is, try to imagine an obrtly simplified game of ping pong. Pong is most often played by two players versus one another. You and a friend (or the AI) would each have control over one of the paddles placed on either side of the screen, and your objective was simply to get t the ball past your opponent more times than he could get it past you. As the ball got knocked back and forth between the paddles it would gradually gain speed, which in turn made it more difficult to get your paddle in position to return the ball back at your opponent. Pombie Zong manages to keep this core gameplay intact, while also adding some exciting new twists along the way.
In Pombie Zong you will be taking controlling these two paddles all by yourself. This is easily done by sliding your thumbs up and down on the screen. The traditional Pong ball has now been replaced by a spinning blade of death, which you will be knocking back and forth between the two paddles. Once the spinning blade is hit enough times consecutively you will enter Ultra Mode, which starts the blade on fire, which greatly increasing it’s speed as well. While in Ultra Mode you will also gain additional points for each zombie you kill… wait, did I forget to mention that there are zombies in this game? Because there are zombies here. LOTS of zombies! What good is a spinning blade of death if there aren’t any zombies around?
The game consists of 6 different levels that each consist of five rounds of ever increasing difficulty. Zombies spawn in the middle of the stage, and slowly make their way to either the right or left of the screen. You’re going to want to hit them with that spinning blade before they reach the end of the screen, or else you’re going to lose one of your lives. You start off with 10 lives, and once you run out of them it’s game over.
Occasionally wooden crates pop up on the playing field, and these are filled with a power-up that will benefit you in some way. These upgrades include being granted a limited time use of a larger blade, give you an additional blade to knock around at the zombies, and longer paddles. You may also be given one of two power ups which you can activate when you please; one that slows down time for a short time, or the screen clearing aerial bombardment. Each of the game’s power-ups are quite useful, and a lot of fun to use.
All around I have to say I have been very impressed by the gameplay in Pombie Zong. It is just a blast to play, and I found the difficulty level to ramp up at a good pace.
The controls in Pombie Zong were very responsive during my time with the game, and I didn’t experience a single issue. It was easy to control on both my phone and tablet too, which was nice. Using your thumbs to move the paddles feels really natural, and really gets you feeling like you’re in the game.
One important thing to note is that you pretty much need a device with multi-touch compatibility to fully enjoy Pombie Zong. Since you will be moving two paddles independently and at the same time as the other I wouldn’t really suggest this game if your device doesn’t allow for it. It might still be playable without it, but I don’t imagine it would be quite as much fun.
Pombie Zong has some of the most charming cartoon graphics I have seen on android. Charming isn’t the first thing that might typically come to mind when taking about a game which you are killing a lot of zombies. But the developers really did a great job here. Each of the games six stages look unique, the gameplay flows smoothly, and even the menus are really well done. Cairn4 did a great job of creating a unique style that is quite different that found in any other game out there.
The sound effects used in Pombie Zong are well done. You will hear zombies groaning upon entering the stage, the ping of the saw blade bouncing off of the paddles, and the splat of zombies getting eviscerated are all well done. On the downside I found the game’s lack of music to be a bit disappointing. The only time you will hear music is while you’re in the starting menu of the game. While the lack of music doesn’t really detract from the gameplay experience, it just feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.
While the gameplay is a lot of fun I feel that the game doesn’t present you with enough incentive to keep you coming back for more. I feel that the implementation of achievements and an online leaderboard would do wonders for the game’s longevity. Pombie Zong feels like it would be the perfect game for achievements, and I can think of a lot of cool things that you could aim for. I imagine having achievements like “Kill 1000 Zombies”, “Get a 4x Combo”, or “Hit The Blade 20 Consecutive Times”. It’s just a small addition that would keep players busy for a while, and give them something to do other than just trying to best their own score.
The other feature I feel Pombie Zong is missing are online leaderboards. Trying to best your own score is only fun for so long, but I always find games which record high scores to be much more enjoyable when you can see how you rank against your friends, and where you stand against people from around the world.
The game itself is a tonne of fun, but a few key features keep Pombie Zong from becoming a game you will keep coming back to. The gameplay is perfectly designed as a ‘pick-up-and-play’ title, but Pombie Zong just needs more reasons for you to actually do that. I’m hopeful that the developer will implement these features in the future, but I guess only time will tell.
When I review a game I always try to focus my attention solely on what the game ‘is’ and not what I think it ‘should be’. This was difficult to do when writing this review as it’s hard to get past the fact that the game is lacking a tonne of potential replayability by adding a few small features. The gameplay is a blast and is perfect as a ‘pick-up-and-play’, but without achievements and leaderboards I just feel it’s not something I would ‘pick-up-and-play’ as often as I could.
Still, I feel Pombie Zong is a fantastic little game that shouldn’t be missed. The game has a gorgeous art style, is filled with a tonne of charm, and most importantly is a real blast to play. Slice your way over to Google Play to get Pombie Zong for a mere $0.99.
Summary: Pombie Zong is a fun re-imagining of the classic game Pong. The gameplay is fun and the graphics are well done, but I can't help but feel that the developer missed out on some key features that would have really boosted the game's replayability factor.