Preview: Project Tennis Scramble – Sports Get Weird on Oculus Quest
Jason Rubin says ‘Hi!’, by the way.
One of the first titles announced for Oculus Quest is the oddball Project Tennis Scramble; a tennis ‘simulation’ that really wants you to know to it’s heard of the Mario Tennis series. And this is no bad thing; next to the aggression of Dead & Buried Arena, the puzzling of SUPERHOT and the rather dry horror of Face Your Fears 2, Project Tennis Scramble is the only light-hearted experience yet seen on Oculus Quest.
The experience begins with a short tutorial wherein the player grabs a racket and is taught to hit the ball. Simple enough; but in doing so you are also taught about the limits of the play space. Project Tennis Scramble was in fact the only experience at Oculus Connect 5 which offered two different sized play spaces; one for each player. Once the tutorial has ended the player is transported into a brightly coloured arena that sits somewhere between a Super Mario videogame and #Selfie Tennis, and then the man himself pays us a visit.
A giant ball with arms floats from the ceiling and suddenly upon the screen appears Jason Rubin, VP of Content at Oculus. He delivers a message welcoming the players to Oculus Quest and to Project Tennis Scramble itself, with thanks to Armature for their work, and wishes the player fun. It’s a rather peculiar introduction, but a welcome one given Rubin’s last-minute absence from Oculus Connect 5.
Matches in Project Tennis Scramble are directly comparable to Wii Sports’ tennis; the direction and speed of the player’s contact with the ball has less importance than simply making said contact. The players build a rally and as they do two special effect devices appear within the scene and hitting either of them will induce a variety of changes, such as turning the ball into a beach ball or shuttlecock.
The match set-up at Oculus Connect 5 was a simple first-to-five points arrangement, but that certainly helps with the flow-through of players on a busy show floor. How Oculus and Armature plan on expanding the formula into a fuller experience – or even if they will attempt to create a product from this tech demo – remains to be seen. It wouldn’t be unlike Oculus to offer Project Tennis Scramble as a free download with Oculus Quest in a similar fashion to Farlands with the Oculus Rift.
That would of course be the best-case scenario for Project Tennis Scramble, as while it is fun for a few minutes it’s an undeniably shallow experience. Much like Wii Sports, Project Scramble Tennis is an easy sell to many people, but now that we’ve had been through that Wii phase would it be enough to sell the $399 (USD) Oculus Quest on? It’ll make a good stepping stone for friends and family of the early adopters, but Project Scramble Tennis in itself is unlikely to be the title that convinces anyone to part with their cash.