Ace Banana PlayStation VR Review
Publisher: Oasis Games Developer: Time of Virtual Reality Genre: Action Players: 1
Age Rating: 7+ Other console/handheld formats: N/A
Ace Banana is probably one of the worst titles that I have played on the PlayStation VR. Whilst graphically the game looks appealing with its cartoonish tone, fun sounds, quirky animations and colourful characters, that appeal is soon lost thanks to the poor tracking, repetitive gameplay and the onset of repetitive strain injury thanks to the awkward use of the Move controls, which you use to control the games main weapon, a bow and arrow. If you don’t have Move controllers or would just prefer another option, you can use the DualShock controller, which admittedly does take the strain off your arms and makes for more accurate aiming and shooting, though the game is still pretty bad in terms of its gameplay.
The gameplay sees you defending a bunch of cute, baby bananas against a wave of monkey enemies eager to steal them, shooting the monkeys with your bow and arrow with an array of different projectiles, from suctioncup arrowheads, shuttlecocks, frogs, hammers, hedgehogs, all of which have their own different effects and physics – the lighter the projectile you’re using, the further it will fly. Standing stationary for the most part, as they approach you the monkeys do look scarily intimidating with their huge size, and there is a pleasing variety in the monkey designs, such as boxer monkeys, clown monkeys, construction worker monkeys, monkeys on jetpacks. It’s a seemingly simple game that would appeal to kids, but unfortunately no one over the age of 12 will find any fun in this, and I wouldn’t even recommend kids under 12 play this game as the difficulty is brutal.
Monkeys come in waves and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to what type of monkeys make an appearance and why; the better I played, the more monkeys with better defences seemed to come onto the screen, these monkeys requiring more than one hit before they are defeated. The game has been compared to rogue games in which enemies and other elements are random, though I will assume that the games difficulty changes based on how well you are doing as that was the only time I saw a difference – the worse I did, the easier the enemy, though that’s not to say it gave me an easier time. Each hit sees your score increasing, with there also being combos that will increase your score further.
Every 5 waves you then have to face a boss who is determined to steal all of your bananas, and the bosses are particularly gruelling. The first boss took a mammoth amount of hits before it was defeated and the second boss can only be described as a mess – there was no pattern to this bosses attacks, and after this boss, that appears at Wave 10, I gave up on the game.
The first and probably most major problem I experienced in this game was the tracking. The area that the game takes place in is positioned at a rather weird angle; instead of having you face towards where all the action takes place, you are facing more towards the right. Many times I would press the Options button on the controller to try and centre the image, more times than should be necessary, though despite doing this, and despite me trying to look towards the camera and aiming the controller towards the camera to try and fix the tracking, because of this weird angle, when any monkeys came out from my left side, I found myself looking away from the camera and a lot of the time the camera would not pick up the controller, making the bow and arrow useless. Pressing the Options button also prepositions your bow and arrow which can annoyingly obstruct your view.
In the game pressing the R1 button and aiming at a yellow circle will also allow you to grapple to different sections of the area – there are 3 places in the area where there are banana patches that you have to defend, one on the ground, one in the middle slightly higher up, and one further up in the air, and aiming at these sections using the R1 button will allow you to hook and grapple towards them. However, when aiming at these circles, it didn’t register quickly enough that you want to hook and grapple there, and this is especially infuriating when you are facing a boss but cannot get to a banana patch in time to defend it because the hooking won’t register. The aiming in the game is also finicky – even when the cursor is on the monkey and turns red, meaning you will land a hit, the projectile will either bounce off them or go right over their heads. Needless to say, what is supposed to be a fun and simple game becomes something all the more infuriating the more you play.
The bosses that you face are also brutal. There is no life bar that shows how many hits you have to go until the boss is defeated, instead you have to look for signs of how close you are to defeating a boss by seeing how they are acting. For example, the first monkey boss you encounter is in a robot, and the more you hit it, the more it starts to go haywire until eventually it explodes. However, the enjoyment is diminished because you feel you are hitting the boss so many times, and yet it just keeps going – the boss fights are overly long, and the difficulty is raised to maximum from only the second boss. As mentioned, I did give up after this one as it left me feeling cheated. The second boss has you facing a ninja monkey that uses deception to fool you, by creating multiple versions of itself with you needing to find and hit the correct one. What makes this boss particularly gruelling is the fact that there is so much happening on-screen that you quickly lose track of what is actually going on. Not only do you face the boss and multiple versions of it, but suddenly you’ll find yourself up against gigantic monkeys and also the same monkeys that you have been defeating throughout the game thus far, as this boss calls on them for help. The action is overly frantic and after a particularly drawn out battle with the first boss, the difficulty level of the second boss is rather overwhelming to say the least.
What makes the game even more frustrating is the fact that there is no save feature, and there aren’t any checkpoints, so if you lose during a boss or wave, you have to start all over again, a choice made to pad out the length of the game and as an excuse for some sort of ‘replayability’. Ace Banana is also a very repetitive game, with the waves and boss fights taking place all in one jungle-esque area, and there’s only so many times you can aim and shoot a bow and arrow before it quickly becomes tedious – if using Move controllers, prepare for some very achy arms. Currently the game also lacks any multiplayer, but there is a 4 player co-operative multiplayer mode in the works, which will hopefully make things a lot easier.
Ace Banana is an example of a game that is hoping you will overlook the flaws because of the pretty 3D effects of the cute monkeys and vibrant environment, though with much better games available for the VR it needed to offer so much more than it does. Repetitive gameplay and poor tracking, frustrating bosses, even menus that are confusing to navigate and a complete lack of saves or checkpoints just makes this game feel cheap. The graphics are cute, and any blurriness that is prevalent in more realistic-looking games is diminished a lot, making this one of the better looking games on the VR. There is a pleasing variety in the projectiles you can use and in the design of the monkeys, and I like that the game seemingly adjusts depending on how well you are playing, but after a lot frustration with the gameplay, and with such a high difficulty level, the cons far outweigh the pros and I wouldn’t even recommend this game for kids.