Parker Brothers designed and launched Gnip Gnop (read it backwards to see how they came up with the name) in 1971.
Gnip Gnop (pronounced “guh-NIP guh-NOP”) bounced ping-pong-style balls back and forth across its enclosed court, but with none of that “one ball at a time” stuff. All six Gnip Gnop balls flew around at once, propelled by three buttons on either end of the small playing field.
The object was to ‘Gnip’ your three balls over to the other side while trying not to let the other kid ‘Gnop’ his three balls over to yours. Was it as easy as it sounds? Gnope.
A plastic shield separated the two halves of the Gnip Gnop court, and three holes in the centre were the only way across. Once somebody called “Go”, the Gnippers and the Gnoppers went flying.
Just when it looked like you might Gnip your way to victory, that little weasel would Gnop one of your balls back to you. Balls collided in mid-air, changed sides with blinding speed, and generally made a chaotic mess of every Gnip Gnop game (the good kind of chaotic mess, mind you).
It was all madcap fun, but it was too good to last. Gnip Gnop had disappeared by the end of the ’70s, as kids began to get their head-to-head action fixes with electronic and video games.