Ah, nostalgia. I remember back in the days of surfing through AddictingGames.com there was a game called CurveBall. In what must have been cutting-edge coding at the time, you were put in control of a 3D pong paddle which could influence the way a ball was shot by moving the paddle as they made contact. It was pretty much a high-tech version of tennis, and was pretty kick-ass.
Deflecticon is a game that's similar to CurveBall (it's even mentioned in the description), only instead of using your mouse, you use your finger on your smartphone or tablet. You face off against a number of computer controlled opponents, with multiplayer to come in the future.
Like many other retro-inspired games that come to the mobile platform, this game isn't without its upgrades. There are different modes that challenge the player to adapt to different conditions, like a shrinking battlefield. I think this breathes a little bit of fresh air into a dying product, but you're still getting what it says on the box: Pong in three dimensions.
It's kind of ironic: I've been reviewing a lot of games that play like Geometry Wars, but this was the first that actually gave me the feeling of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. Deflecticon just felt like it was a genuine attempt to update a tired product and succeeded in it. The game translates well onto the mobile medium, and the touch controls are well-received.
The in-game HUG is also kind of impressive, as it displays a lot of pertinent information without complicating the fast-moving action. Again, it takes what games before it had successfully laid down as foundation and built upon it. It added style without sacrificing function, which is something that earns props in my book.
Besides the regular "back and forth" mode, you can also take party in a "push" mode which combines the Pong gameplay with Breakout. Instead of advancing through CPU opponents by draining their lives, you poke holes in the wall of bricks behind them. If you can break open a hole and then send your ball through it, you move forward a level. If you lose on that level, you get sent back.
It's simple, but it adds another layer to what could be viewed as a basic port. It reminds me of Tetris DS; sure, there's the "regular" version you could play, but there's new twists that you can experience, as well.
There are little quirks, however, that keep the praise for this game to becoming too overflowing. Issues with the boundaries of the playing field and the range of the paddle definitely make it easy to misjudge corner shots; this can lead to embarrassing "I thought I had that!" moments, which I'd rather like to avoid.
The soundtrack, while initially catchy, can get repetitive, and there are some spots where you can pick up where the music is looping. Also, the free version of the game will, on occasion, make you wait 8 seconds between levels. This, I suppose, is either to annoy you into buying the paid version or to show you an ad; I haven't seen the latter, but I hope it wasn't the former. If there's one thing users don't like, it's being punished for trying a game out.
Deflecticon is a free download (with the above limitations) while its paid version is a mere $1.28. For some, this game will inspire a bit of nostalgia, but for others, it remains a solid title for the Android platform.