That’s not the kind of headline one expects to write going into the week. But here we are. Universal Space’s analog Pong table is a mindblower in a whole unexpected way. The tabletop machine goes more retro than retro by bringing Pong into the real world through the magic of magnets (some day, perhaps, we’ll discover how they work).
There’s a square “ball” and a pair of rectangular paddles on either side, moved back and forth by spinning a wheel. Like the classic game, spinning faster and hitting corners puts a little English on it, as they say in billiards. Players score by striking the opposite side of the ball. From there, you tap an orange arcade button to fire it back.
It’s really a thing to behold — even more so in single-player mode, where the machine controls the other panel. You’ve got easy, medium and hard options for that. I’d start off slow, because there’s a bit of a noticeable lag that takes some getting used to.
It’s a neat parlor trick, and one that will almost certainly get party guests excited. It’ll cost you, though — $3,000 to be precise. The arcade model is an additional $1,500. It’s a lot to pay for what feels like a kind of one-trick pony. Like the original Pong, it’s hard to imagine it holding one’s attention long enough to justify the price.