Have you ever wanted to shoot monkeys in the face? No, me either, and after the backlash with that Harambe fella, I don’t think I’d openly admit it even if it was at the top of my to-do list. But guess what? I loved shooting monkeys in Ace Banana. Get your bits and bobs out for Harambe all you want, I don’t care.
Let’s back up a little bit. Ace Banana is out now on the PS4 for the PlayStation VR (PSVR) and can’t be played without the pricey headset. It’s a simple game in its concept and execution: you need to defend your precious stash of potassium-rich bananas and stop the paws of those damn dirty apes from taking them away from you. Yes, it sounds a little silly but it’s all good fun. Instead of aiming for the photo-realism and grittiness of other VR games, Ace Banana stands in its own place in the virtual world.
It’s a nice looking game, too, and the visuals were surprisingly crisp and clear. For reference, some games tend to look a little blurred or pixellated on the PSVR. That’s because they’re trying to do so much with the hardware, whereas Ace Banana takes a clean and simple approach to its visual design – and it’s one that pays off.
Your place in the virtual world of Ace Banana is behind a bow that fires all sorts of weaponry. Controls are handled by either using two PS Move wands or the standard DualShock 4 controller. I tried both and found the PS Move option to be the vastly superior option, even if my arms grew tired after 10 minutes of flinging hedgehogs, coins, and rocks at those cheeky monkeys.
The tracking works just as well as you’d imagine it to with the PS Move controllers, and head tracking was spot-on for almost all of time, barring one weird exception where my head warped underground. Of course, you can try to use the DualShock 4 controller but it’s just so much more fun with the PS Move wands; pulling back, aiming and releasing your plunger, hedgehog, coins, and all the other weird power ups you can use against the monkey menace is a true bit of fun, and that’s largely down to the controls just working right.
Although Ace Banana’s gameplay boils down to just shooting monkey’s, there’s a fair bit of depth and replay value. High scores and leaderboards kept me going far longer than it should have (bleary-eyed Chris at work = manic all-nighter playing Ace Banana,) and the variety of enemies will keep you on your toes. That being said, despite the variety of enemy types there’s not really much you can do other than to keep firing off shots. Still, it makes for a more visually pleasing playthrough when more than one type of monkey is on-screen (or in-screen? Note to self: We need to find new vocab for VR games…)
It’s not a hard game to play by any stretch but it does pose a challenge. Boss fights are a royal pain in the arse, though done really well with you having to jump between banana stashes to keep up the damage. My only real gripe with Ace Banana was the lack of tutorial; I didn’t know the little creature on my hand could be aimed at different spots to warp me to them until after an hour of play. Still, the fact that there’s isn’t a tutorial is my only complaint can be taken as a positive.
All in all, Ace Banana is a silly little game that provides a slice of first-person-shooter fun that’s sorely missing from the PSVR’s launch lineup, and it’s family friendly, too. It’s not going to be your go-to game to show off your headset to friends and family, but it should keep you entertained far longer than it has any right to. Sharp visuals, cheery music and sound effects plus reliable VR tracking makes this one a solid game. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my bananas need saving.
VR Sickness Rating: 1/10 – no vom, no headache, just tired arms and a stupid grin.
Review Disclaimer: This review was conducted on PS4/PSVR using a digital code provided by the publisher. This does not affect the content of the review or the final score awarded. For more information, please read our Review Policy.