Ping Pals is a chat/accessory program developed by WayForward Technologies and published by THQ for the Nintendo DS. It was released on December 8, 2004 in North America. The program allows the user to customise their "Ping Pal" avatar and game interface by selecting from over 1000 different items such as hairstyles, makeup, clothing, backdrops, music loops and sound effects.
Items can be unlocked by trading with other players or buying them in a shop. Players must trade to complete their collections, as each cartridge's shop offers a different subset of the items. Players receive a regular allowance of coins, using the DS' date-keeping functionality, and can get more by playing mini-games (such as Guess the Number and Hot Potato), typing certain secret words in chat (each word works once per file) and even for choosing to display the credits screen more than once.
Up to 16 players can play wirelessly using one game cartridge; each must be within about 100 feet (30 m) of one of the others to exchange text and picture messages.
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Ping Pals was released on December 8, 2004. Although it was marketed as a nonviolent, girl-friendly game, it is frequently criticized as not being interactive enough to be called a game. In addition to this, the DS has a built-in chat program called PictoChat. PictoChat includes features that Ping Pals lacks, and due to this, the game received poor ratings. For instance, Nintendo Official Magazine gave it 9% in its Nintendo DS special, with the opening sentence saying: "With PictoChat coming as standard, this is a bit like paying money to breathe air." The reviewer gave a one word written summary reading "POINTLESS". GMR awarded the game a score of 0 on a scale that normally ran from 1 to 10.
Several images in Ping Pals were licensed from QPlay. These include the Cupimon, a green creature that dances in the startup animation, and several avatar and clothing graphics.
Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the game an average of 0.5 out of 10, with the game receiving two "0"s and one "1.5".
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