What is it about the late-90s polygonal look that translates to VR so well?
Maybe it’s the fact that by not attempting to photo-real visuals, that part of the VR barrier is broken, instead letting players focus on the action. Whatever the reason, games like Superhot, Rez Infinite and now C-Smash VRS have made such good use of it that they’ve become VR staples.
C-Smash VRS is a reimagined revival of the Sega Japan-only cult classic, this time for PlayStation VR2. It’s essentially squash meets Breakout, as you stand, paddle in hand, and attempt to break objects in the distance. Like the best motion-controlled games, the basics can be explained in a sentence, but it’s only when you really get your hands on C-Smash VRS that the depth is revealed, and the sweat begins to pour from your body.
C-Smash VRS feels like a game that was waiting for the fidelity of modern motion controllers to really sing. The slightest adjustment to the wrist can be felt, the power of your swing massively impacting where your shot is going to go.
When you start the game you’ll be flailing wildly, but as the challenge increases and the targets you’re aiming for get smaller, you learn to become almost like a conductor, deftly flicking the ball with precision, rather than swinging your hand with such force that you’ll take out a vase. The haptics in the PSVR 2 Sense controller make every hit of the ball feel satisfying, and every miss feel painful.
C-Smash naturally requires some room. Even with the two-meters by two-meter space that the PSVR recommended for us, there was still a sense that we were getting a bit too close for comfort to the breakables in the house. You move with the analog stick, so it’s not like you’ll be running back and forth around the virtual squash court, but if you’re a taller person with a large wingspan, it’s easy to get carried away. On one hand, it’s a testament to the game’s impressiveness. On the other, it’s a bit of a barrier to the game being a no-brainer for everyone with PSVR 2.
We found ourselves genuinely sore after a few sessions with the game, which is the highest compliment we can play it. You get so lost in the game that you forget that you don’t need to swing your controller with all the power of your arm.
The game does feature online support, which is an enjoyable option for those looking for a slightly more competitive edge to the game, even if we occasionally struggled to find games. Be warned, however, that whenever one of the players seemed to have internet issues, connection with the ball felt off, somewhat ruining the finely tuned elegance of playing the game in single-player.
Aesthetically C-Smash is extremely stylish. The clean, almost featureless rooms in which the games take place are the perfect backdrop for the dazzling reds, blues, and oranges that fill the play space. The game runs incredibly smoothly and makes the whole experience incredibly zen-like.
We had some hope of the visuals getting somewhat more out-there and psychedelic as the game progressed, but they never quite reached the legal high of Rez Infinite or Tetris Effec, two games that C-Smash VRS share some unofficial, yet palpable DNA.
The game’s single-player offering is somewhat simple, but it’s deeply replayable. The campaign takes the player through challenges meant to refine your understanding of the mechanics, with a view to preparing you for setting scores and facing the game’s challenge modes.
This is when the real bulk of our time in C-Smash was spent. Despite the feeling that our arm was dangling by a thread, there was an absolute desire to perform flawlessly that was hard to ignore. More single-player content for the game is planned, which is a blessing for us and a curse for our long-term limb health.
C-Smash VR feels like a must-buy for PSVR 2 owners. Massively stylish, and utterly engrossing, we found ourselves taken by the game’s simple, yet refined mechanics. Sure, you need plenty of space, but that’s the case for a number of true VR greats, among which C-Smash VR numbers.
C-Smash VR is engaging, exhausting and exhilarating. A VR staple that we'll be showing friends for years, it nails the aesthetics, gameplay, and most importantly, the vibe of everything that's great about VR.
- Perfetly tuned gameplay
- Visually captivating
- Great use of haptics
- A surprisingly intense workout
- Single player content isn't plentiful