Sometimes it’s the craziest ideas that work the best in VR. I can just imagine the table pitch for Shooty Fruity. “So you’re a supermarket clerk, right? And you’re scanning items. But at the same time, mutant fruit is rampaging and trying to destroy your checkout counter! We’ll have a rack of guns that streams by overhead that you can grab to shoot the fruit! We can call it Fruiter Shooter!” Of course, they didn’t call it Fruiter Shooter, but here we are. We’ve got a virtual reality game about blowing the ever living juice out of mutant produce while still trying to perform admirably in a minimum wage job.
There are three main job tasks you’ll be undertaking while shooting the incoming fruit. The checkout counter has you scanning items and throwing them down the correct conveyor belt for bagging. Standing behind the food counter requires putting the correct colored food cubes on different trays. Finally, the packaging area is like the back room of the supermarket and has you picking the right items off of a conveyor belt to package. Each job tickles a different part of the brain and requires a different focus to do, particularly while under duress from mutant fruit monsters.
Completing these job tasks will unlock new guns, which swing by on the suspended conveyor just above whichever counter you are working at. You’ll start out with a simple pistol, but gain access to additional weapons the more things you checkout. At the outset, the possible unlocks are a scant couple of guns, but by completing levels and earning juice, you can unlock guns to be put into your loadout at the start of each level. This makes going back and completing older levels far easier than it is the first go around, and makes it a viable option to grind out for a better gun if you find yourself stuck.
The biggest problem that I ran into with the guns was stats that were improperly explained. I understand what each symbol means in general, but I would have liked additional information to go along with profiles of each fruit. Some guns are supposedly better than others against certain kinds of fruit—the flying bananas, pineapples, and even onion-looking things (Editor’s Note: Pomegranates. They’re called pomegranates.) come to mind—but in the heat of the chaotic fruit assault, it’s really quite difficult to paint an accurate picture for myself as to exactly what works best against what. I assume that the larger fruits have additional armor, and I basically know which guns can punch through, but it’s only an assumption that is communicated nowhere in game. For the sheer amount of fruit attackers and pool of guns that they have, I would have really loved to see more detailed information that allows players to cultivate the optimum loadout on each level.
Different fruit types do provide an exciting variety to each of the levels, which are otherwise basically the same one after the other. Cherry bombs will fly in and can be tossed out to damage other fruit. Strawberries will stop short and spit seeds at you. Blueberries are quick little buggers that will jump quickly and do a hefty amount of damage. And on and on. Learning each of the fruits and how they attack becomes key in surviving and defeating the fruits, knowing which you can leave alone for a couple of seconds longer, and which ones you need to direct your attention to right away. Mismanaging this can mean that the fruit gets too overwhelming to handle and most often resulted in a loss for me.
Each level has three main challenges that are the means of progression. The challenges get progressively more difficult, as does each level. Early on, the checkout job may let you throw the items into any conveyor belt. Later on, a specific lane will light up, so you have to watch more carefully instead of haphazardly tossing items after scanning. After that, items begin to have barcodes, requiring them to be aligned correctly before they will scan. Each job type gains this progression of difficulty, while also introducing new, harder to kill fruits, but subsequently allowing for access to a bigger cache of guns. I found the progressive difficulty curve kept things interesting and sufficiently tested my skills without ever spiking too sharply or not increasing enough.
The challenges also follow the difficulty progression, initially being quite easy to complete without a second thought, but eventually requiring the use of specific weapons, or a focus on making sure you don’t take too much damage. The marathon challenges actually require you to last for a full half an hour on each job, which I think is a pretty ridiculous time requirement. By the time you get to the marathon levels, the content has just started to wear out its welcome, and asking players to attempt to sit behind the checkstand for 30 minutes seems like more punishment than a quick pick-up and play shooting gallery VR game should require.
That’s exactly what Shooty Fruity is. It’s an exciting shooting gallery in virtual reality wearing one of the most bizarre and unique skins of any game that I’ve seen. It’s more fun than it has any right being with its strange premise, but that’s part of what makes it shine. It could lean in the direction of providing more information to players for optimum weapon loadouts, and I wish it didn’t try to artificially increase play time with ridiculous challenges, ultimately burning itself out. The dichotomy of mundane tasks and taking on the role of gunslinging action hero against waves of mutant fruit is an intriguing premise. Along with the satisfyingly juicy explosions that come from blasting them apart with shotguns, revolvers, and SMGs, these features help Shooty Fruity to be a game that’s more gratifying than it has any business being.
Shooty Fruity review code provided by publisher. Version 1.01 reviewed on Standard PS4 and PSVR. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.