Review: Ace Banana (PSVR)

Orange You Glad?

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Developer: Time of Virtual Reality
Publisher: Oasis Games
Platform: PlayStation 4 (PSVR)
Genre: Shooting Gallery / Archery
Rating: E
Price: $14.99
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Ace Banana. The name threw me totally off my guard as I scanned the list of PlayStation VR launch titles. I had to follow up and see what this game was all about, and at $14.99, its price point was far more appealing than some of the launch titles with a bit more clout. Would I be able to get a solid virtual-reality experience out of it? I was sure going to try.

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Content Guide

Spiritual Content
You’re using plunger arrows to protect your baby bananas from waves of primates. Not really much to get into here.
Violence
No graphic violence. It’s just a family-friendly archery game.
Language/Crude Humor
Nothing to be concerned about
Sexual Themes
At least one playable banana is shirtless, ripped muscles showing through. It’s more comical goofiness than anything sexually related.
Positive Themes
Arcade family fun with the theme of protecting those who can’t protect themselves. You can also grow and care for baby bananas to get new playable characters

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Review

Needed Gear: PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR headset, 2 PlayStation Move controllers, PS Camera
Were you ever fascinated by archers? I don’t mean some guy with camouflage pants hanging out trying to bag his trophy buck for the year, but archers of legend like Artemis, Legolas, or Katniss Everdeen? Perhaps you just enjoy target practice, or maybe you’ve never even shot a bow but would like to try. Whatever your flavor, Ace Banana aims to make you a hero with a bow and have a goofy time doing it.
You are the village guardian. As the only mature banana in the peaceful town, you’ll have to take up your bow and protect the little green future of your people from a marauding band of primate thieves. They’ll come fast and hard, there many kinds, and they’re led by some pretty mean monkeys.

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Regardless of past experience, anyone can have a good time with Ace Banana. At its simplest, archery is about holding and drawing a bow, then releasing the string to fire. The PlayStation Move controllers make wonderful analogs for this. Each round, monkeys will spawn and head toward your precious baby bananas. You’ll have to frantically draw and fire to take them out. Every fifth wave, you’ll have to take down a deviously difficult boss. That’s it, really, and anyone can enjoy playing it. The game’s actually much deeper, though.
Your basic arrows are plungers. As you play, different power-ups and ammunition types will drop from foes. You’ll get to fire a variety of ammunition from porcupines to badminton shuttlecocks and more at the coming horde, utilizing rolling pandas, split arrows, and other power-ups to soup up your arsenal. The variety of pickups does a wonderful job keeping things interesting, but beware – they throw some detrimental stuff in there too, so you’ll have to keep your wits about you.

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Speaking of variety, there’s a pretty diverse cast of enemies set to come at you. Monkeys of all shapes and sizes, with various gear and abilities will assail you, and all they want are your children as a delicious snack. As you defend your home from one of three perches in the village, monkeys and baby monkeys with hardhats, jetpacks, clown costumes, paint balloons, and so on will close in from every side. Oh yeah, and don’t forget—your shoulder will probably be pretty tired after several rounds.
Between rounds, you can go back to your house. There, you can nurture and cultivate baby bananas you’re awarded to unlock more heroes. You’ll have to give them water, sunshine, and a healthy dose of plant food. Filling out your roster will let you assume the role of a new hero with a distinct bow. Whether you’re a martial artist with a curl bar as a bow, a samurai with a tamed snake, or something else entirely off the wall, there’s never a dull moment.
The game’s look and feel are great. I was impressed with how much style and character every character, both banana and monkey, exuded. The Saturday-morning art style was an excellent choice to cater to such a goofy variety of content. Everything is bright and vibrant and it all moves without a hiccup to boot. The simple little song that plays as you turn your foes to pincushions is pretty catchy as well (which is good, because you’ll be hearing it a lot).

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For all the things Ace Banana does right, there are some concerns worth noting. First, this is an archer game so yes, your shoulder really will get pretty tired if you have extended play sessions. Second, the boss battles are infuriatingly difficult. It took me probably 8-10 tries to take down the first mighty foe, and each “retry” requires you to start back at Wave 1. There are no continues in the game. All of those pale in comparison to the tracking accuracy degradation over time. If you don’t take the time to re-center your headset between rounds (by holding the Start button), you may quickly find your aim jumping around erratically. Perhaps that’s more a limitation of the hardware, but no other launch titles I’ve played seem to struggle with this to the same degree Ace Banana does.

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If you’re up for a whimsical archery game, look no further. The world is fun and colorful and there’s a lot of variety to experience. The game occasionally loses some accuracy tracking of the controllers, which can be frustrating, but when it’s working the game is a blast. For $15, if you’re looking to widen your VR library with some variety, it’s a decent grab.
If guns are more your thing or $15 feels too steep, you may consider Oasis Games‘ other shooter, Pixel Gear.
Review product provided by ONE PR Studio

The Bottom Line

Ace Banana is a fun, colorful archery game with frantic action and a ton of power-ups and enemies to keep things fresh. With the art style of a Saturday morning cartoon, things maintain a sense of whimsy amidst the chaos. The action feels great when everything's working, but the loss of controller tracking can make a round infuriating in a hurry. If you want to expand your PSVR launch library with a game you're sure to get enjoyment out of, Ace Banana is worth a look for you though.

 

7.3

Joe Morgan

Gamer, software developer, dog lover. When he's not writing for GeeksUnderGrace or CrossConsoleGamers, you can find him streaming at Twitch.tv/JoeKnowethGames

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