Version Reviewed: 1.0.424
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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Very few things have remained as consistent in my life as my absolute inability to play ping pong - even at the most rudimentary level. It's not like I haven't tried, and it's not like I don't enjoy the game. I do; it just has never particularly liked me. That fact has changed somewhat with the arrival of Yakuto's Table Tennis Touch, a beautifully-realized and graphically elegant table tennis game with appeal for the pro as well as the eternal newb (like me). Too bad the skills learned virtually don't transfer into reality.
Table Tennis Touch avoids the pitfalls of trying to emulate human figures playing the game in favor of a semi-futuristic theme where players learn from and often play against a computer-controlled robot named, appropriately enough, WiffWaff. Even when the robot fades into the background and 'real' matches begin, the only presence on the screen is the paddle on each side. This is a design choice that really works by cutting out unnecessary fluff and distraction in favor of gameplay.
The early tutorials with WiffWaff are a great introduction to the game, and particularly the controls (think Fruit Ninja with a bit more spin and finesse). In addition, there are a wide variety of mini-games scattered throughout the various game modes that are actually fun while simultaneously building skills for competitive matches. The mini-game that has players using their ping pong skills to knock down bowling pins is especially fun, and could almost be a game unto itself.
Table Tennis Touch features a multitude of modes, including a Quick Match, Career (the most fun, for my money), and an Arcade mode that collects all of the mini games unlocked throughout the course of a player's career. Every mode shines with design polish and wit and an odd-but-not-entirely-inappropriate jazz soundtrack.
Alas, not everything is perfect. I experienced several crashes throughout my time playing the game, which I hope will be addressed in future iterations - plus my admittedly-underpowered iPad 2 sometimes struggled at the start of matches. I know my table tennis skills are poor, but it's particularly crushing to lose a point because the iPad stutters and throws off my return. At least let me lose on my own! I don't need technological support for losing!
These are minor complaints, however, as the total package of Table Tennis Touch is vastly superior. It's enjoyable to play a single match (and get soundly whipped by a computer, I should add), or a collection of mini games, or an entire career. This is a well thought-out, well-designed, beautiful game. So pick up a paddle and engage your inner Forrest Gump.