“Pong + Pac-Man + Space Invaders!” From the creative mind of games designer Dick Poelen(going under the name KingPenguin for all social media) for the Ludum Dare 58 game jam, Pacapong, combines the mechanics and style of some of gaming history’s most iconic arcade games and melds them into one. Imagine these three screens overlapped on top of eachother: It gives me a headache too. The game looks a little hectic at first and it surely takes some time to get used to, but the feeling you get from playing it amounts to mixing three different colours and emerging with a new, surprisingly unique colour. I soon stopped feeling that this was a combination of three games mushed into a ball and it started feeling like it’s own unique design, which is exactly what it is. The way the game plays is each player controls a Pong paddle at one side of the screen, the paddle can shoot upwards to destroy incoming space invaders and can launch a Pac-Man into the maze in the centre to collect pellets while hoping it avoids the four patrolling ghosts. The ultimate aim of Pacapong is to score points by collecting more pellets than your opponent before the time limit. It sounds surprisingly simple but it can get quite difficult when trying to shoot or dodge an invader, align yourself to catch and shoot Pac-Man back into the maze, use what little control over him you have to collect pellets while simultaneously avoiding the ghosts in the centre and the barrage of barrels thrown by Donkey Kong. While the gameplay seems hectic on its own, the erratic chiptune music accompanying it really makes you feel like you’re juggling three things at once and matches the style and the genre of the game perfectly. The visuals of Pacapong are clearly inspired from the classic arcade games of our time. It changes just enough in terms of gameplay as well as visuals, to make it feel refreshed. The colour palette is dulled down from the sharp colours of the inspired games and the new blue and orange does wonders, still catching the eye but not to the point where you have to take a break and look at the sky every ten minutes. I feel the concept, which was to break down the mechanics of three different games and pull them together, has worked well in its favour The game is highly accessible, requiring only one laptop to play and two sets of hands to play with. While I think Pacapong could benefit from some sort of online play as well, it is perfectly suited to accommodate two players in the same room. Pacapong is a nice change of pace for gamers who have been digging into AAA games for too long. It’s easy to get sucked into the game and to spend half an hour launching Pac-man back and forth, but as with most arcade-style games it’s more suited to pick up and play as a breath of fresh air rather than something to engross yourself in for hours at a time. Pacapong I feel has done well in taking the mechanics and style of Pong, Pac-Man, and Space Invaders and creating a unique experience with them, instead of the novelty of all three on one cluttered screen. The game is free to play from Dick Poelen’s site and can be downloaded here.