Baseball is often seen as a quintessential American sport – the World Series only features US teams unlike football’s World Cup – but it’s still popular around the world and usually features in videogames that include a mashup of sports. It’s the type of game that fits virtual reality (VR) really well, putting players inside massive stadiums using a motion controller to swing a bat to their heart content’s. So Poly Poly Games has taken the sport and mixed it up into an amusing, colourful experience that’s as much about hitting a home run as it is about just having some fun, with VR Slugger: The Toy Field.
As the name suggests, this isn’t a baseball simulator interested in finely tuned accuracy or trying to catch you out. Instead VR Slugger: The Toy Field is all about scoring points and hitting random targets across two different gameplay modes, Time Attack and Puzzle Mode.
Time Attack is the best place to start things off. Given a massive over sized bat you need to keep hitting as many balls as possible until your timer runs out. This is very much an arcade style mode where you can be as accurate or inaccurate as you please. To score the big points and get up on the global leaderboards you’ll need to be aware of everything that’s going on around you. Sure you can hit home-runs one after the other but there is much more you should be aiming for. Massive baseball gloves, giant rubber ducks, blimps, catchers and even lamp posts are all there to be aimed at and hit. You’ll spot people in the stands who’ll hold up mock banners with additional time or points to collect if you’re good enough.
While Puzzle Mode feels a lot more like the main campaign. The same principles may apply in terms of aiming for targets but the challenge is upped somewhat. Rather than aiming for whatever you please you’re given specific objects to hit, and each level won’t move on until you’ve done so.
Starting with five balls you’ll gain further balls as each level is completed, making progression that little bit easier so long as you don’t finish on one ball each time. If the pitcher runs out of balls to throw then it’s game over. To incentivise progression you’ll be able to unlock new bats to play with such as pencils, fish and guitars.
The actual physics of VR Slugger: The Toy Field are really good. The bat feels nice and precise with a good solid whack when the ball strikes. And just as in the real game itself, hitting the ball is one thing, getting it to go where you want takes time and practice, lots and lots of practice. This is where frustration levels can increase somewhat, especially in the Puzzle Mode, where Time Attack – even with a clock – is much more relaxed and enjoyable.
VR Slugger: The Toy Field isn’t a videogame where you have to enjoy baseball to appreciate the gameplay but it may help when you’re just constantly hitting ball after ball. It’s another one of those VR titles that works well enough but isn’t going to hold your attention for massive length’s of time, more of a dip in and out videogame for HTC Vive, when you’re bored of all the shooting titles available for the headset. If you’ve been yearning for a decent VR baseball title then you should give VR Slugger: The Toy Field a try.