VR game Ace Banana is a sleeper hit in the making

MANILA, Philippines – Being inside a game’s world and walking through it is one thing. Being able to use a weapon within that virtual space is another. At the Tokyo Game Show this year I was able to try out a hidden gem in PlayStation VR (PSVR) gaming, Ace Banana.

Ace Banana is a VR game developed by Time of Virtual Reality. In it, you play one of the guardians of "Banana Village," tasked with protecting a bunch of baby bananas from devious monkeys. To fulfil your duty, you wield a bow and arrow which you control via PlayStation 4’s Move controllers.

Now while the game’s premise may sound ridiculous, I ask you to suspend your judgment. This title is one of the most fun and physically engaging VR games I’ve ever played. (Read: What virtual reality racing on the PlayStation 4 feels like)

Coming into the demo room I had no expectations whatsoever as I haven’t heard of this game before. Beforehand, I didn’t get to see any photos or videos of the title and whatever marketing the title may have had, I had all missed it. All I knew was that it was a lighthearted game that uses the PS Move controllers.

LIKE A GAME STRAIGHT OUT OF DISNEY JUNIOR. The adorable art style of this title shows that itu2019s a game for the young and the young at heart. Image from Sony Playstation

LIKE A GAME STRAIGHT OUT OF DISNEY JUNIOR. The adorable art style of this title shows that itu2019s a game for the young and the young at heart.

Image from Sony Playstation

For the younger gamers

Once my headset was strapped in place and after I made the necessary adjustments, the team walked me through. As soon as I saw the game itself, I immediately wondered why they were showing this to me. The graphics were cartoony and it was as if I just stepped into a Disney Junior show.

It was also confusing at first because they let me explore the main hub of the game in the beginning, instead of starting up the actual game. At the main hub, there were small bananas in front of me roaming on top of a tree stump. I was asked to pick a banana from the group and place it on the podium to my left. I was also told that I could pour water and fertilizer, and expose a baby banana to sunlight so it could grow into a new character.

It reminded me of a passive mobile game where the objective is to collect all characters available and take care of them .

After the quick introduction to the main hub, I finally began my adventure as a legendary banana archer. 

MONKEY BUSINESS. Becoming handy with the virtual bow and arrow takes a little time but not to the point of inaccessibility. Screengrab from Sony

MONKEY BUSINESS. Becoming handy with the virtual bow and arrow takes a little time but not to the point of inaccessibility.

Screengrab from Sony

Mastering your digital weapon

Learning to control and aim my bow and arrow was fairly tricky at first. Having never played a game with the Move controller before the arrival of VR, I had no idea of how the controller’s buttons were laid out. You don’t get to see the controller as you play the game so it was confusing whenever they pointed which buttons to push. (Read: Confirmed: The PS4 Pro does pump out nicer graphics)

I'll do my best to explain: The left Move controller serves as the bow, while the right controller serves as the string. You control your aim by moving your controller as if you’re aiming with a bow. To shoot the arrow, you push down the trigger, pull the controller, and let go of the trigger once you’re happy with the aim.  

As soon as I got the controls right it became easier to enjoy the game. Surprisingly, aiming with the controllers was easy as the game tracked the controller’s movements smoothly. I could tell that the game and the peripherals were well calibrated. They also made good use of the tracking the distance between both the controllers. The farther you “pulled” your right controller, the tauter the string is pulled, therefore you get a faster and slightly more powerful arrow.  

It’s also good to note that there was also no lag as I whipped my head side to side as I hunted for hungry monkeys.  The accurate response rate is helpful for those who are get dizzy easily.

Just keep shooting

I got to defend the small bananas for five rounds before I faced one of the boss monkeys. Despite the short playtime, I enjoyed the variety of gimmicks that the game had to offer.

The more rounds I survived, the more types of monkeys appeared. There were baby monkeys which were small, fast, and hard to take down. There were monkeys that had to be struck twice for them to fall. There were even bigger monkeys that actually threw baby monkeys at me to keep me distracted while they took a baby banana.

Each round also had me playing in a different level or area on the stage. The stage I played at had a few trees which I can jump on to so I can defend my bananas better. There were rounds where I only had to stay on one level and there were rounds where I had to switch from one level to another. It was tiring for a while but I was already so immersed in the game I forgot about the fact that my arms were slightly hurting.  

All in all, it’s a ridiculously fun and seamless VR game that can definitely replace your arm workout routine.

Ace Banana is a launch title for the PSVR, which comes out on October 13. - Rappler.com

Nadine has been a passionate gamer since she was a freshman in college. When she isn’t playing video games, watching her favorite YouTubers, or trying to share her gaming misadventures, Nadine is working on her photography and her travel plans. Her biggest gaming wish? To build her own gaming PC and to see the release of Devil May Cry 5.