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Ponx - The Atari Times


Resurrecting an old classic for the portable Atari
by Dan Loosen

March 10, 2003
The case of Ponx describes it as "The ball-and-paddle classic that started it all!" Lynx fans may take this in two different ways. Ponx is the first game that Songbird Productions released, and is the game that is first in a line of expected Atari games from Songbird.  (SFX was Songbird's first real release.)

Ponx is a game that came to the Lynx in 1999 without much anticipation. Everyone has played a version of Pong at some time of their lives or another, and the game doesn't seem to vary much from system to system. Ponx falls into the same category which is unfortunate for the game is one of the most well done versions of Pong released to date, and another addition to the ever growing list of outstanding arcade classics available for the powerful handheld.

If you somehow have managed to not play it before now by living under a rock or something, the concept of Pong is simple.  There are two paddles on the sides of the screen and the goal is to sneak the ball past the other players paddle. Some versions have different backgrounds, different difficulties, different speeds and a choice of how many balls you can play with at a time. Ponx doesn't just have one of these options, but it has them all.  Ponx is even supposed to contain codes to change these things for even more variations of the timeless Pong.

The controls in Ponx are done well.  Unfortunately, the game does not have a selectable paddle speed which is a disadvantage for those of us that like to speed back and forth.  It is apparent that the speed that is selected was done with meticulous care so that a good fast paddler can't beat the computer too easily. The paddle moves fast enough that the player feels that it is their own fault that the ball is lost, and not that the paddle didn't move fast enough or the paddle is uncontrollable.

The graphics on Ponx are just what they should be - Ponx not just looks like a nice graphic enhancement to the original Pong, but it also feels like it.  The ball and paddles are done in two tone colors that cast a really nice look to them both, and none of them ever blend in with the backgrounds.  On top of that, there are two different playing fields to choose from so if the classic black background isn't to your liking you can play on a green setting that reminds me of table tennis.

The only problem that I have had with the game I have to fight with myself on the first selection screen to pick the right things without pressing a button.  If you press a button while moving around selecting the difficulty, field and ball number, you automatically start into the game.  Often times I'll press a button by habit before I'm sure I have what I want, and then I find myself resetting the system a lot which isn't necessarily a glaring problem, but it does get annoying.

All in all, Ponx is an excellent first game for Songbird Productions to release and I truly believe it is a must have. If you want to support Lynx releases but are worried about the quality of releases done by hobbyists, splurge and spend the money to impress yourself with Ponx. Unless you absolutely hate the original Pong, you won't be disappointed.

Ponx comes with a nice color CD insert.
Ah, animated title screens!
Pick your level of difficulty.
Pong never had multi-ball!
System: Lynx
Publisher: Songbird
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 90%
Sound & Music Score: 70%
Gameplay Score: 95%
Control Score: 100%

Final Score: 95%

Reader Comments for Ponx

I enjoy this as well by Bruce on 2009-03-18 12:23:46
I like Pong, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend the money to buy Ponx...

I recently received my copy and I'm very happy with it. It plays a pretty decent version of Pong, and the graphics are good, though not flashy.
The two-ball version is particularly challenging.

A couple of comments about Ponx I haven't seen elsewhere:
- when Ponx starts up, the first thing it does is display a large Atari fuji. I don't think I've ever seen that on any other Lynx game - and I think it adds a nice touch.
- After the fuji screen, you also see a screen showing the title logo for Protector, and the statement: "Coming soon... for the Atari Jaguar... in 1999"!
I laughed because I didn't realize Ponx was ten years old already!
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