You may call it ‘ping-pong’, ‘flim-flam’, or even ‘whiff-whaff’, but whatever name it goes by table tennis is probably the best fun you can have with a table and a ball. The sport has been part of the Olympics since 1988, and as part of my quest to become a gold medalist without leaving the house, I turned my attentions to beating the computer opponents on some of the best PC table tennis games.
And what a difficult challenge it proved. I started with Table Tennis Pro, an award-wining 3D ping-pong simulator. The graphics and sound effects in this one are very realistic and there are dozens of ways in which you can customize your games, as well as several game modes. Unfortunately, the mouse-based control system got the better of me and invariably each point would consist of me either smacking the ball too hard off into the distance, or missing the thing completely. I scored zero points. Bad start.
Despite my dismal failure in the first game, I was still keen to prove myself as ‘King-Pong’ so I installed 3DRT PingPong, another graphically impressive table tennis sim. This time, there’s a wide range of weird and wonderful characters to choose from, each with their own unique skills and abilities. I must have picked a dud though because my character was defeated 11-2. 3DRT PingPong is certainly a lot easier to control than Table Tennis Pro, but it’s difficult to maneuver the bat onto the backhand. My advice is stay to the left.
I may have been heading out of my own version of the Olympic table tennis tournament but I was determined to go down fighting. I took my one last shot at victory with Cannon Smash, a free game that really gets into the physics of the sport. With transparent wireframe arms, precise targets and all manner of arrows appearing every time you take a shot, this is one for the ping-pong purists. For me though, Cannon Smash signalled my retirement from the sport. It all got too complicated and I lost 11-1. Don’t worry, there are plenty more events left to try…