Another title from Colopl, Fly to Kuma launches for the Oculus Rift alongside VR Tennis Online. Two very different titles with similarly pleasing aesthetics, Fly to Kuma is a virtual reality (VR) puzzle videogame in which the player has to guide a collection of bears across treacherous terrain and into an exit pod.
The story of Fly to Kuma is entirely nonsensical in the best kind of way. A planet full of pink fluffy bears underwent a tragedy, resulting in the necessary abandonment by its inhabitants. Hatching a plan to move their entire species to a new planet, Kuma 2.0, the bears boarded a vessel that crashed in transit, and now it’s up to the suit jacket wearing Elite Bears to secure a new space ship to allow the journey to continue.
Fly to Kuma screams Lemmings throughout. Though the player does not interact with the bears directly in anyway, the strategising required in order to guide the mindless drones to their destination is entirely reminiscent of the classic ’90s franchise. Simplified commands see the player grabbing blue blocks around the environment and placing them upon the stage in order to create safe passage for the bears. The challenges start very simply of course, with each of the first four stages introducing a new mechanic, but Fly to Kuma eventually finds it’s stride.
The bears are rather dull-witted, only ever running directly forward. Placing a flat surface over a gap or angled block to allow the bears to reach a higher platform are simple tasks, but soon you’ll be using those same angled blocks to redirect the bears facing fire hazards, balancing blocks atop one another and risking a drop from one platform to another.
The challenge is ramped-up even further with the addition of speed boost platforms, elevators and electrified barriers. Still, the videogame doesn’t get particularly taxing in its core campaign, with the first failed attempt normally enough to advise on the changes required, but the later worlds unlocked during the campaign hide the real challenge.
The virtual reality (VR) aspect of Fly to Kuma is interesting, though one must question how essential it is. Fly to Kuma could arguably be played on a traditional 2D monitor just as well, with the only control mechanic placed on the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) being that of the depth of object placement. Fly to Kuma isn’t the kind of experience that demands the greater immersion offered by VR, and so it’s unlikely to be many early adopters’ launch day highlight.
As enjoyable an experience as Fly to Kuma is, the lack of need for the videogame to be delivered in VR is a true dampener on its launch title status. VR Tennis Online stands as a title that is also questionable in this regard, but does benefit from greater immersion. Fly to Kuma, then, is a welcome addition to VR but one which simply won’t be chosen as a star performer when sat next to the likes of EVE Valkyrie and Chronos.