While COLOPL’s Japanese development team has released two Oculus Rift exclusives – both VR Online Tennis and Fly to Kuma in time for launch – COLOPL NI’s first virtual reality (VR) title comes to HTC Vive instead. Cyberpong VR stands as fairly unique in the VR library at present, though is wholly inspired by videogames of yesteryear.
At its heart, Cyberpong VR is essentially a modern rendition of Breakout. The player has a paddle in each hand and is tasked with bouncing balls into a grid of blocks. These blocks have various attributes, such as requiring multiple hits or granting energy for the use of special weapons, and in single-player they move towards the player’s standing position. Of course, they must all be eliminated before they cross that threshold or it’s ‘game over’.
Those special weapons however, can make things considerably easier. From laser guns which can be manually aimed and shot at blocks that are coming a little to close for comfort, to enlargement of your paddles allowing for easier returns. These power-ups are manually selected by simply depressing the HTC Vive motion-controller’s touchpad and sliding your thumb to the chosen weapon, however they are limited by energy which, as stated above, must be collected via the destruction of specific blocks.
The single-player component of Cyberpong VR is a high-score based agenda, with both local and online leaderboards available. Multiplayer gameplay mixes things up a bit, removing the weaponry and giving two players the opportunity to engage in paddle-based combat head-to-head. Local area network (LAN) and online multiplayer gameplay is available, which is a good thing as finding an online match this early in the lifespan of modern VR can prove quite difficult.
The online gameplay essentially feels as though COLOPL NI has beaten CCP Games to the punch. While Cyberpong VR is never likely to reach as great an audience as the EVE Online creator’s efforts at creating eSports in VR, it does offer a fairly entertaining rendition of a similar gameplay premise; only here there’s no defensive play. Cyberpong VR’s multiplayer gameplay is essentially tennis with a goal behind the player opposed to a net to score over.
Cyberpong VR isn’t a particularly enchanting videogame visually, with translucent neon backdrops and forgettable player avatars. It is effective at doing the job it sets out to do however, and thus it’s hard to complain about the decision to put the player action ahead of aesthetic styling. Functional opposed to trendsetting, Cyberpong VR’s visual style surely reflects its budget price point.
Available via Steam for £10.99 GBP (at the time of writing), Cyberpong VR offers a generous package for the financial investment required of the player. It’s never going to set the VR house on fire, but as an entertainment product Cyberpong VR will while away an evening or two with very few complaints. Standing unique as it does presently, Cyberpong VR deserves to find an audience. But just as with the original Breakout that inspired it, the multitudes of ‘clones’ are surely just around the corner.