Who doesn’t love pizza? The Italian favourite seems to be enjoyed the world over, from stone-baked portions in fancy restaurants to that greasy Friday night feast from your local takeaway. So naturally, pizza was always going to make it into virtual reality (VR) either as a mini-game or the main event. Early titles like Job Simulator introduced VR cooking and that trend continued with the likes of I’m Hungry, focusing on burgers and fries. Now for pizza fans, there’s Pizza Master VR which almost offers a tasty gaming slice.
The second title from Plectrum Software, as the name suggests this videogame is all about mastering the ancient art of pizza making and more importantly making all your customers happy. With an apron wrapped around your waist, it’s time to get to work in single-player or a co-op mode where a friend becomes a waiter serving those hungry customers.
The single-player is set out kind of like a takeaway establishment, there’s no seating just you in the corner surrounded by your kitchen and all the necessary items for cooking up a mean pizza. All your standard ingredients are there, tomatoes, cheese, red onion, mushrooms, olives, bacon and more – alas there are no anchovies.
Just like life itself, this is a hands-on affair, rolling out the dough grabbing the relevant toppings and then cooking the pizza just right. Base ingredients like the tomato sauce and cheese spread out automatically while the more personalised toppings can be put on individually. Important as this is where the gameplay varies and adds difficulty. There’s also a drinks machine to deal with when you reach the higher levels.
In the single-player mode, you can get up to two customers at once, perfect for the two pizzas the oven caters for. Some will just want cheesy bread, while the real gluttons (pizza aficionados) want a bit of everything. Putting it all together offers simple gameplay mechanics, you just need to be fast. You also need to keep an eye on the pizza as there’s a small window to grab it before it becomes a charcoal disk.
Currently, the single-player has a very mini-game vibe to it, quick and to the point. The co-op is where Pizza Master VR becomes a more viable videogame product, where the VR player is still the chef while the second player is on the computer screen being the waiter. As a local party experience, there’s more fun to be had and the difficulty goes up as the chef has to remember the orders given by the waiter; there are hints to help with the process but you still need to be on the ball.
However, as an early access videogame, there are still improvements to be made and issues to solve. The most infuriating VRFocus came across was hand tracking (using Oculus Touch controllers). The hands would drift off, stick in place or disappear entirely, all completely at random. This makes grabbing anything a chore and most often led to burnt pizza as these issues were most prevalent using the oven.
Pizza Master VR comes across as one of those quirky VR videogames that could be amusing for a couple of hours until it makes you hungry and you order a pizza. It’ll be interesting to see how Plectrum Software goes about enhancing the co-op side of Pizza Master VR as that does have potential, especially if an online mode is introduced; only after those hands have been fixed.