When it comes to mobile game versions of sports, most users are pretty much limited to either the strategic type of game that makes you choose and allot resources or action games controlled by swipes and onscreen buttons. But yes, it is rare to come across a game that leave you almost as drained as you would after playing its real, sporting counterpart. Right, welcome to Table Tennis Touch on iOS – and we write this with bruised, aching fingers.
We will get the tough part over with right away – this is not a free app and will put you back to the tune of USD 3.99. But once you have downloaded the 250-odd MB game, you can pretty much get stuck into the action straight away. For action is where the real charm of Table Tennis Touch lies. Yes, we have had games that encourage you to hit moving spheres before (all the way back to Pong), but we must confess that we have never played anything that is this engrossing. Gameplay mostly a matter of swiping in the direction in which you wish to send the ball, but there are a few neat touches too – tapping twice before you serve allows you to throw the ball high in the air and serve and a quick swipe in the direction of your choice after a stroke swings the ball in that direction. And oh yes, the speed at which you swipe also dictates the speed at which the ball goes.
All of which would have been pretty good in itself, but adding a whole new dimension to the game are its honestly stunning graphics, backed up by sound that is right out of a TT room (as we tend to call them). Yes, you can only see a pair of ping pong bats and a table all the time but the camera accompanies you as go for your shots swinging from side to side just as you do and you often have a mirror in the background that actually reflects the game going on – no, it is not of too much use, but in terms of effect, is just so cool. And if the novelty of the game wears off, there are a lot of challenges to get through – including a rather extensive career mode, starting from club level and going all the way up to international level, and a number of mini games that vary from knocking skittles over to keeping a ball in play for as long as possible against an opponent determined to terminate the rally as soon as possible. You move up different difficulty levels – and even the normal one will take some getting past, and is likely to leave you with very tired fingers (sliding them across the surface of the iPhone and iPad can get a bit bruising, especially if the device’s screen protector is not the greatest – incidentally, we recommend playing this on an iPad, as you can move around with greater ease and also keep a better eye on the table, which sort of gets covered by your finger on the iPhone’s smaller display) – and as you progress, you unlock tournaments, get better equipment and tougher opponents, and end up playing rallies that are longer than ever. By the time you are reaching the top level, it would be taking anything close to twenty swipes to close out a single point. Tiring stuff.
And actually that is the biggest complaint we think some of the more casual gamers will have about the game – its sheer intensity and long rallies are not really meant for the casual metro or bus ride. There is real skill involved here as you work out how to put extra spin on serves, slice drop shots and try to tangle with edges that fly off the table’s corners all too often. The game’s intensity and skill levels are its strength AND its weak point – we would not recommend this for the casual gamer at all. If you however love table tennis or just want a game that tests you almost as much as the real thing would, this is well worth the USD 3.99 price tag slapped on to it. We have started the game so many times, saying we will play just a set or two, only to put it down close to an hour later, with sore fingers, and the sound of table tennis balls bouncing off tables and racquets in our ears. Yep, now you know the reason for that heading.
Available from: iTunes App Store
Price: USD 3.99