Thanks to the introduction of the PlayStation VR, we are getting the unique opportunity to see whole new takes on established game genres. The first-person shooter, for example, has long been established as usually featuring a firearm of some sort. Thanks to the experimentation brought about by the introduction of new hardware, we are now starting to see these assumptions challenged. A perfect example of this is the new VR shooter, Ace Banana. Instead of the usual gun, players are instead armed with an old-fashioned bow and arrow. So dig deep and channel your inner Robin Hood, because you’re going to need his dead-eye aiming prowess in order to succeed.
No Monkey Business
The conceit of Ace Banana is rather simple: you are an anthropomorphized banana, trying to protect other bananas from hordes of invading primates. So why can’t these helpless potassium tubes sprout arms and protect themselves, just like you? That is a great question, but sadly not one that is ever addressed within the game. All that’s certain is it’s up to you to guard this defenseless bunch from a hostile crowd of mammals that are looking to quite literally skin you alive.
It’s probably best to think of Ace Banana as a turret game. Players will find themselves zipping around between three different vantage points, trying to protect the supply of bananas at each location. So if you are keeping track at home, that means that all of the enemies run directly at you along one of three different tracks. At first this feels a bit unfair, almost as if you are shooting fish in a big, imaginary barrel. However, it doesn’t take long before the onslaught of attackers can be overwhelming.
As the overrunning force begins to bear down, dispatched primates will start to drop items. Once these power-ups have been shot and gathered, it can have interesting effect on the flight trajectory of the remaining arrows in the quiver. Suddenly there will start to be quasi-heat seeking projectiles, oddly flying arrows with pillows attached to their ends, or even the ability to fire off three arrows at a time. Pro-Tip: If you really want to feel like a professional archer, try firing off a triple arrow with the bow cocked sideways. This way you can unleash three times the defensive destruction along a horizontal plane, using only a single shot!
One of the more amusing aspects of the game almost comes by necessity. As you might imagine, having crowds of Curious George clones washing over you wave-after-wave would get a little monotonous. Thankfully, there are quite a few different varieties of primate that will attempt to make a split out of your family. There is a Hawaiian shirt monkey, a creepy looking clown monkey, a boxer monkey, and even monkeys with makeshift helmets. And to add in just a little more insanity, tiny lemurs are thrown into the mix as well. It is like an afternoon of the National Geographic Channel on an acid trip, and it is hilariously amusing. Each character has their own quirks and animations, which in turn aids in the replayability.
Bunches of Bugs
There is one thing, however, that doesn’t help replayability at all: bugs. It seems that Ace Banana needed a bit more time in the cooker when it came to the motion controls and interfacing with the PlayStation 4 camera. In my numerous play sessions with the game, I was never once able to get the camera properly centered within a turret platform. Not once. This even made the process of selecting the option to start the game itself an unnecessary challenge. Also, for some reason it was requiring me to be pointed in a 45-degree angle away from the television, in order to be actually aiming forward in the game world. And before you ask, yes, I did try to re-center the screen numerous times, by holding down the option button. While it might resolve that issue initially, it would eventually end of twisting itself around again, mid play session.
Another weird issue was the actual movement detection. There was always a weird float to the aiming reticle, despite the fact that I was holding my hands completely steady. While this wasn’t that big of a deal in early waves, once the pace became a little more chaotic, this became a gigantic and virtually insurmountable obstacle to overcome. In all of the VR launch games I have played, I have never seen this level of inaccuracy and inconsistency. This bug was very frustrating in the best case scenarios and damn near game-breaking at its worst.
While Ace Banana puts an amusing foot forward at first, it is hard to remain supportive of the end product. When bugs derail an experience so dramatically, it is extremely unfortunate. As much fun as the title looks to be, I cannot in good conscience recommend a game that has this many genuine issues. Hopefully this is something that can be resolved in a later patch, but as of right now, it would be best to leave this jungle unexplored.
Review code for Ace Banana provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.