I’m pleased to report that, over the past four or so years, Smash Hit Plunder hasn’t really changed. Though it’s been away for some time, moving from Gear VR to PSVR as developer Triangular Pixels itself relocated from the UK capital of London to the calmer coastal scenes of Cornwall, the chaotic core of this smash ’em up remains intact and that’s a great thing. There is one new feature, though, and it’s a welcome one: local multiplayer using PSVR’s social screen support.
In the past I’ve only seen Plunder as a single-player experience in which you tear through a castle, destroying everything in sight as you gather up the sweet loot that spills from within. It’s always made for a fun few minutes, but it was lacking the replayable party atmosphere that its ridiculous premise seemed ideally suited to. That’s no longer the case.
Up to three players can now join the VR user in the game’s primary mode. Now, this isn’t some slight implementation via an app as with The Persistence, nor is it just a subtle feature to entertain those not fortunate enough to be inside the headset; this is full-blown multiplayer support, the likes of which we haven’t seen on PSVR since The Playroom VR. Each player joins you in the world as their own character — a plump little imp or sorts — that can charge about, picking up and smashing all the same objects that you can.
Working together brings out a special kind of silliness that you don’t usually get with VR, though this isn’t a game that strictly encourages teamwork. It’s just too tempting to close a door in a friend’s face and then greet them by hurling a chair at them when they reopen it. Making it even better is the casual competitive element, which has you frantically scrambling to get the best score. The familiarity of the DualShock 4 does give flat-screen players an advantage, but the wonder of VR (which uses Move controllers) helps make up for it.
On the VR side, it’s great to finally play Smash Hit with a motion controller instead of relying on Gear’s head-tracking. The controls themselves are still a little tricky, though there are customization options to help out. I got confused having to hold a button and move my controller to turn in the world, for example (simple button presses have always worked better, I’ve found).
You can get inventive with your smashing, though. Fireplaces will set wood alight, which can help you dismantle some objects, and a Ghostbusters-style showdown at the end of the level had me flinging objects in sheer panic as I tried to protect my loot. I was laughing the entire time, and I can’t say that about many VR games.
For all of the feverish fun, though, withstanding the test of time is going to be the biggest deciding factor in how good Smash Hit Plunder really is. Triangular Pixels is promising a generous amount of modes for the game (including, promising, a narrative co-op campaign), but will they be able to capture that key ‘one more round’ feeling? We’ll find out next week.
Smash Hit Plunder hits PSVR on October 5th.