There are many virtual reality (VR) experiences that have been doing the rounds throughout the community for quite some time and yet seem to be no closer to a consumer release. Proton Pulse was one such title: infamous in it’s absence from download portals despite having been showcased for VR head-mounted displays (HMDs) for longer than most titles. Samsung’s Gear VR could be the cause – or possibly a symptom? – of this extended cycle, with a release now finally upon us.
A simple Arkanoid style videogame, the table is turned to adapt the formula for VR. The player is still tasked with bouncing a ball into blocks in order to make them disappear, however it’s not quite as simple as controlling a paddle at the bottom of a 2D plane. In Proton Pulse, the paddle is directly in front of the player’s view and the blocks are in the distance. It’s almost as if you are sitting under the paddle looking up at the blocks (though the actual experience is more comfortable than this may sound).
Moving the paddle is a simple case of moving your head. It’s locked to your view, and this means it can be moved in more directions than simply left-and-right. The usual tactics of hitting the edge of the paddle to increase speed and dictate direction still apply, so while at first the change seems dramatic it won’t be long til experienced gamers familiarise themselves with Proton Pulse‘s ruleset.
The demonstration build presented on the Gear VR was an interesting preview regardless of it’s limitations. Two levels were available, the first of which featured just four large blocks to remove. Any skilled Arkanoid player would surely complete this introductory experience in a little over a minute, but the second available level did offer a slightly increased challenge. Twice as many blocks arranged in a circle around the edge of the tube in which your ball bounces, this second level also introduced a bomb which detonates multiple blocks upon impact, suggesting that there’s much more to Proton Pulse than this diminutive demo.
Proton Pulse is a colourful and accessible VR experience. It doesn’t break the rules of the videogame world while moving into VR and is clearly considerate of the lessons being learned of developing for this new consumer medium. Proton Pulse isn’t about to set the world on fire, but it’s keen presentation makes VRFocus glad that it may finally see a release.