The latest game from development studio Appstar, founded by industry legends David Crane and Garry Kitchen, is called Fling Pong – The Planets [$1.99], and is an arcade game with an odd premise. In Fling Pong, you're tasked with bouncing ping pong balls off the ground and landing them into a set of targets against a wall. The targets here are actually planets, and the concept is similar in a way to playing a game of skee-ball with the rolling of the ball replaced with bouncing. The presentation is really well done, with great looking graphics and excellent music, and altogether Fling Pong ends up being a simple but fun casual game.

The play field in Fling Pong is a small three dimensional room. On the back wall of the room are various planets from our solar system. Touching the screen displays a ping pong ball and a short downward swipe bounces the ball off the floor of the room and against the back wall. The object is to bounce the ball into the planets, with points awarded based on the size of the planet. This gets more complicated while the levels progress as the planets scroll across the screen at varying speeds or even move in a circular fashion, being larger the closer they are to you and smaller as they move farther away . Occasionally a planet will be lit up signifying that it's worth double points if you happen to hit it during that time.

The gameplay is surprisingly fun as it's a great feeling to bounce a ball just right and nail a tiny planet on the wall. There's a set score you must achieve in a certain amount of time for each level, and a rocket bonus that can be earned which accurately shoots five consecutive balls into whichever planets you choose. The bouncing of the ball can feel ultra-sensitive, but this actually realistically conveys the near-weightlessness of a ping pong ball. My biggest issue with the game is it seems that some balls will go in when it appears you've hit the outside of a target, and conversely others seem to bounce right off even if you hit dead center. These minor issues don't ruin the game though, and it's still oddly satisfying to fling the ping pong balls towards the planets.

If you're unfamiliar with Appstar, we detailed the formation of the company back in February and reviewed their inaugural iPhone game Iron Horse when it was released in May. We liked Iron Horse for it's simple gameplay and authentic depiction of classic locomotives throughout history. Fling Pong is similar in that it uses a simple idea and high quality production values, with planet graphics that are actual photographs taken with the Hubble Telescope from space. Certainly a far cry from the many “doodle” games in the App Store, and I appreciate the realistic approach to the visuals (which look especially remarkable in the iPad version). Beyond that, Fling Pong – The Planets is also pretty darn fun, and with 32 levels, OpenFeint integration, and a phenomenal musical score, it should keep you entertained for some time.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://www.erraticgamer.com Eric

    "My biggest issue with the game is it seems that some balls will go in when it appears you've hit the outside of a target, and conversely others seem to bounce right off even if you hit dead center."

    ...So the game has only one mechanic, and that mechanic doesn't consistently work.

    • Jared Nelson

      I should have been more clear. 99% of the time the game works just fine, and I have no issues progressing in the game at all because of this odd behavior.

      But sometimes it appears to happen, which may be due to the advanced ball physics used. You can add spin to the ball by swiping diagonally, and I think that may cause the issue, or it could just be purely cosmetic.

      Either way it doesn't hamper the game in any significant way, as you can toss as many ping pong balls as you want so if one acts weird you just toss another.

  • http://www.erraticgamer.com Eric

    "My biggest issue with the game is it seems that some balls will go in when it appears you've hit the outside of a target, and conversely others seem to bounce right off even if you hit dead center."

    ...So the game has only one mechanic, and that mechanic doesn't consistently work.

    • Jared Nelson

      I should have been more clear. 99% of the time the game works just fine, and I have no issues progressing in the game at all because of this odd behavior.

      But sometimes it appears to happen, which may be due to the advanced ball physics used. You can add spin to the ball by swiping diagonally, and I think that may cause the issue, or it could just be purely cosmetic.

      Either way it doesn't hamper the game in any significant way, as you can toss as many ping pong balls as you want so if one acts weird you just toss another.

  • Gamer1104

    I normally wouldn't think of buying a game like this especially for more than $.99, but after watching the video and hearing the soundtrack, I just might. For anyone who doesn't know, the soundtrack is "The Holst Planet's Suite", an arrangement based off of the nature of each planet in our solar system (or most of them, as I think there were still a few planets that had yet to be discovered when this was written).

    Damn money, and the app store, squeezing so much out of me >.<

  • Gamer1104

    I normally wouldn't think of buying a game like this especially for more than $.99, but after watching the video and hearing the soundtrack, I just might. For anyone who doesn't know, the soundtrack is "The Holst Planet's Suite", an arrangement based off of the nature of each planet in our solar system (or most of them, as I think there were still a few planets that had yet to be discovered when this was written).

    Damn money, and the app store, squeezing so much out of me >.<

  • loz

    For $1.99, this looks like a rip-off and the most boring ass game in the world. I mean no disrespect to the devs, but there are games with 10x the depth and entertainment value at half the price. Moreover, and more importantly, I can't believe this made the front page of TA. You might as well give raving reviews to the wealth match-three games out there. Is there really a dearth of games to review that you have to scoop so low and review...well...a nicely decorated pong game?

    • Jared Nelson

      A rip off of... what? There isn't any other game in the store that uses this mechanic. It made the front page because it's fun, which you would know if you'd bothered to read the review. You make $1.99 sound like it's the most money that anyone has ever charged for a game before. It's $1.99!!! Two bucks for a wonderfully polished game with a ton of content that's really fun and simple to play.

      "A nicely decorated pong game"... seems like not only did you not read the review, but failed to watch the video either, as this game is nothing like Pong. "Looks like" is the key phrase in your comment, as you've obviously never played the game to be passing such definitive judgment on it.

  • loz

    For $1.99, this looks like a rip-off and the most boring ass game in the world. I mean no disrespect to the devs, but there are games with 10x the depth and entertainment value at half the price. Moreover, and more importantly, I can't believe this made the front page of TA. You might as well give raving reviews to the wealth match-three games out there. Is there really a dearth of games to review that you have to scoop so low and review...well...a nicely decorated pong game?

    • Jared Nelson

      A rip off of... what? There isn't any other game in the store that uses this mechanic. It made the front page because it's fun, which you would know if you'd bothered to read the review. You make $1.99 sound like it's the most money that anyone has ever charged for a game before. It's $1.99!!! Two bucks for a wonderfully polished game with a ton of content that's really fun and simple to play.

      "A nicely decorated pong game"... seems like not only did you not read the review, but failed to watch the video either, as this game is nothing like Pong. "Looks like" is the key phrase in your comment, as you've obviously never played the game to be passing such definitive judgment on it.

  • Greg

    Game looks great! What doesn't look great is the huge, ugly OpenFeint triangle on the app logo. Why, why, why?

  • Greg

    Game looks great! What doesn't look great is the huge, ugly OpenFeint triangle on the app logo. Why, why, why?

  • JCat

    Not sure how much longevity the game has, but I do agree that I am so sick of the OpenFient leaf covering ever icon's artwork!

  • JCat

    Not sure how much longevity the game has, but I do agree that I am so sick of the OpenFient leaf covering ever icon's artwork!

  • samthelion

    the ball shadows look a bit unpolished and simplistic in the video, and the concept doesn't really catch my attention...
    I bet those space photos look great on iPad, though.

  • samthelion

    the ball shadows look a bit unpolished and simplistic in the video, and the concept doesn't really catch my attention...
    I bet those space photos look great on iPad, though.

  • Ashraf

    I dun know about this game, somehow kinda boring to me. ;(

  • Ashraf

    I dun know about this game, somehow kinda boring to me. ;(

Fling Pong - The Planets HD Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 3