As a day one HTC Vive owner, I’ve put a lot of time into playing Valve’s collection of VR demos known as The Lab. From playing fetch with a robot dog to a 3D space shit neon shooter, The Lab showcased a number of incredibly polished test cases for control and exploration in VR. Of the included demos in The Lab, the archery one was perhaps my favourite. Set in a small miniature castle, the player is tasked with shooting incoming figures as they try to break down your castle’s main gate.
While it’s only one of many demos in a larger collection, it ramps difficulty up well, feels incredibly responsive and polished, and my victory or loss always felt like it was down to me.
Ace Banana for the PlayStation VR is a very similar concept, but with far less responsive controls.
The general idea in Ace Banana is that you are an archer trying to stop monkeys from stealing bananas throughout a level. Monkeys will sometimes jump at you, sometimes wear silly armour to protect themselves, and sometimes will cling to your face stopping you from seeing. You can shoot them with arrows from three different areas of the map, and there are some basic power ups and nerfs strewn across the level.
The problem is that none of this feels terribly reliable.
While in the Archery demo of The Lab I could quickly fire multiple arrows in fast succession, firing in one direction and looking in another for further enemies, attempting to do anything like that in Ace Banana felt far too unreliable. I felt like I had to actively look each time where my hands were, give each shot a moment to fire, then think carefully about starting again. Where in The Lab I could hit targets through feel alone, in Ace Banana I was reliant on a reticule to tell me where my shots were heading due to unpredictable physics. When monkeys clung to my face, knocking them off felt like trying to use worn out wind screen wipers to scrape ice off of a car window.
While Ace Banana has some interesting large-scale boss fights, it’s often unclear how to avoid large attacks and uncertain as to whether you can waggle out of their consequences.
It’s a real shame, everything in Ace Banana currently just feels too unreliable to really enjoy.