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Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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Am I being too mean to PSVR’s Ace Banana?

ace banana
Am I being too mean to PSVR’s Ace Banana?

Ace Banana is nothing like the archery I grew up with. I’m not talking about the Legend of Zelda variety, or even Legolas counting off his arrow kills. I’m talking real archery. The kind my stepdad taught me while we ventured through archery ranges for family outings. When he lugged around an intimidating compound, and I had a measly little recurve. If these terms fly over your head, that’s okay. A compound bow is basically a sturdier, more mechanically precise bow, while a recurve is simpler—it’s probably the bow that comes to mind when you think of archery or that one bad Pixar movie.

This would be a fine, quirky arcade game if it actually worked

Ace Banana is the first of five upcoming PSVR titles from Chinese independent publisher Oasis Games. Hailing from a country that is the “fastest-growing VR market in the world,” according to reports from VR Focus, Oasis is placing its bets on the console VR market with their slew of launch window games. Their first entry is pretty barebones, reminding me of another tech demo-esque experience for the Wii that featured a familiar green clad hero. In lieu of the aforementioned crossbow game, in Ace Banana you’re outfitted with a plain recurve, and have to direct plungers into thieving monkeys that approach your banana stash from multiple paths. This would be a fine, quirky arcade game if it actually worked. Bad news: it’s completely busted.

After an hour playing Ace Banana, my arms are tired. Not in the archery way, where your biceps feel sore but good. My arms were tired in the way any repeated, tenuous “exercise” makes you feel—sort of like how the finicky process of flinging plungers from a makeshift virtual bow into monkeys that resemble that ugly Donkey Kong Skylanders figure makes you feel. My arms were tired from frustration, if that’s a thing. Time and time again reaching one arm back, hoping that the aiming reticle wouldn’t stutter its way out of that hideous monkey’s way. But time and time again, that was just the reality. The Playstation Move controllers have never been a suitable substitute for hands, even back when they were just wannabe-Wiimotes, and they’re seemingly less accurate in VR.

Where are their noses???
Where are their noses???

Playstation VR has been plagued with notable tracking issues, where the camera doesn’t quite follow where the controllers are no matter how closely you follow the system’s distance requirements, creating disorienting, nausea-inducing experiences for players. For Ace Banana, a game where precise movement is necessary to overcome waves of enemies, it ends up devolving into a frustrating mess. The aiming reticle constantly bounces around, even while I’m resting completely still. In actual archery, precision is everything. In Ace Banana, precision isn’t even possible.

If the Move controllers didn’t suffer from painful tracking issues, perhaps Ace Banana would be a better game, albeit one that makes Ape Escape look like a milestone in character design. It doesn’t offer much, but I can see the novelty in a cartoonish, family-friendly PSVR bow-wielding game. But right now there’s no reason to play this, unless you have a stomach of steel and can deal with the least Hanzo-like experience of all time.

Ace Banana is available now for Playstation VR for $14.99. You can check out the rest of Oasis Games’ future releases for Playstation VR here.

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