Escape from Pong

Game with source revision 4 (11.6 KB)
Source only revision 4 (8.54 KB)
Debian package
Escape from Pong is a very small NES game which introduces the concept of playing Pong from the ball's point of view. You mission is to escape from 12 difficult levels, despite the paddle trying to beat you at every turn. It is also the first NES game I've ever written.
Escape from Pong was written for the 2003 MiniGame Compo and submitted to the 1K category, meaning it could have a maximum of 1K data, code, and graphics. Due to a misunderstanding of the rules I thought that the iNES header was included in this, but it was not (because it is only required for emulators, not the systems themselves), so I lost 16 bytes there. The game finished 37th out of 63 entries (12th out of the 26 1K entries), in front of several games I thought were better... but so it goes. It also had the distinction of winning in the 1k NES game category by being the only entry of that type. Here's what people had to say about it (I feel this is the best part of the contest!), copied (I wouldn't have to if there were anchors on the page...) from the results page:
37. Escape from Pong
Escape from Pong Score: 4.93 with 27 votes
Author: Adam Gashlin
Platform: NES
Category: 1k

"superb game idea :-)" -- aeeben.

"Good idea, nice trajectories, but too hard very fast." -- Dbug.

"Controlling the ball is quite tricky and the game itself is uninteresting." -- nich.

"I like the new idea for pong.. game got too difficult too quickly.. I think the level I got stuck on was actually impossible, the ball stgarted right in front of a red wall - regardless of what keys I pressed it would invariably hit it.. Cool idea though!" -- bhz.

"Nifty idea, quite playable, I had fun getting through the levels on this one." -- Robin_Harbron.

"Way more fun than it should have been. Freaking paddle!" -- jcompton.

"Interesting idea, though the game only looks proper in select emulators." -- tracker465.

"An original idea, but too hard. It would be easier with opposite controls" -- pieffe.

"Crap" -- tnd64.

"original idea, but a little difficult to play" -- ice00.

"Cute little puzzle game, but it becomes an exercise in acute frustration around level 10. Controls are exactly backwards from what I'd like." -- mcmartin.

"Very original concept, a few more variations would be nice" -- tjentzsch.

I would like to thank everyone who played the game and offered their advice (that is a union of the two sets, not an intersection).
In response to the complaint of an impossible level I have written a brief explanation as to how to beat that level. There seems to be a consensus that the game is too hard, due to both the difficulty of the levels and the reversedness of the controls. Duly, the control reversal will be removed in any future versions. And I do intend to write additional versions of the game, as people seem to like the idea. It has occurred to me that with better level design and somewhat easier gameplay it would be a much better game. Here is what I would like to put into future versions:
The version available for download here has one more level and one less bug than the version I entered in the MiniGame Compo, as well as a real open source license. I've also included a version of the game with the controls reversed. Revision 4 fixes an error with the reversed controls version, where the speed limit was not observed (so it was possible to accelerate through walls). The game is exactly the same number of bytes, though, becuase when I went into the code to fix the bug I couldn't help optimizing a thing or two.
You can probably still find the original version at its page.

Escape from Pong was included in Memblers' 2003 MiniGame Compo multicart, which you can get at NESDev.
Memblers was also kind enough to test it out on a real NES, it seems that it works except you can't see the ball.

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