Let's not mince words here then, the goal in Pongo is simple; from the first-person perspective of a pogo-stick wielding maniac who has seemingly ingested their weight in contraband-laced Skittles, the player has to reach the end of the stage before progressing onto the next and, well, that's pretty much it.
With its low-detail, cel-shaded style visuals and ear-bitingly whimsical music, Pongo certainly puts across a decent enough visage of a charming first-person platformer. Dig a little deeper however and a number of troubling flaws emerge which tarnish that early promise.
Pongo then, certainly manages to frustrate in a number of hair-pulling ways that its twee musical score only seems to exacerbate. From the off, there is no way whatsoever to redefine your keys so you're basically stuck with the standard, finger-twisting default setup which isn't ideal to say the least. While in other places, the lack of exposition when it comes to the various power-ups dotted around Pongo's multitude of stages frustrates similarly as a kind of guesswork has to be employed to work out what each of them do.
Oh and the game has shooty based combat too where the pogo stick becomes some sort of technicolour stick of death, but really, it shouldn't have bothered. With lobotomised AI, unimaginative foes and some horrible feedback (being hit loses you a life seemingly, but other than an on-screen heart disappearing there is precious little evidence that you're damaged/dying), it's pretty clear that Pongo should have stuck to its first-person platforming gig and left all that face-blasting stuff well enough alone.
Annoyingly, you actually have to switch between combat and 'pogo' modes too, meaning that combined with the already arthritis-inducing default controls, players can often find themselves bringing a pogo stick to... a pogo fight, or something and thus it all just seems so pointless to divide up the game mechanics like this in the first place. It's a shame that Pongo's final result isn't better because clearly, the premise has potential and if done right, first-person platformers can evolve into something quite special. As it is though, Pongo cannot simply trade on its whimsical veneer alone and as such, needs a fair bit of work if its creators want Pongo to leap into the hearts and minds of players.
Pongo is available toon Windows PC for £5.59.