Don’t Play Ace Banana
HIGH There wasn’t one.
LOW A boss that offers no visual cues for how to beat it.
WTF Wow, that flesh-toned baby banana bares an uncomfortable resemblance to…
Ace Banana is terrible.
I can’t stress that enough. It is god-awful from its very start to the end of the first level, which is the point at which I gave up on the game.
A first-person archery simulator, Ace Banana puts players in the role of a heroic… banana… who must use a badly brutalized snake as a bow to fend off wave after wave of hungry monkeys, lest they devour the innocent baby bananas placed under his care. This is accomplished by miming archery motions with two Move controllers. It’s a simple, if somewhat mad premise, yet Ace Banana‘s developers have somehow managed to get every part of it wrong.
Problems start with the camera. Most emplaced and rail shooters understand that it’s best to keep targets generally in front of the player since allowing the camera to track their controllers is vital to smooth operation. Not Ace Banana, which, for the entire first level, places all of the action 90 degrees to the player’s left.
I was lucky enough to be playing in a swiveling chair, so it wasn’t too much of a hardship, but anyone without an office chair who wants to avoid spinal injuries should plan on playing this one standing. The 90-degree turn also makes the game effectively unplayable by left-handed archers, as the natural bow-drawing motion will have them pulling one of the move controllers behind their body while attempting full-strength shots, which confuses the hell out of the camera.
The enemies are visually interesting enough, but from what I saw, their behavior doesn’t have much depth. A few of the monkeys take more than one hit to kill, and one type throws paint at the camera (which can be dodged with a quick lean) but by and large they all simply run towards the cache of bananas, then run off after grabbing one. It got old fairly fast.
This brings me to the first boss I encountered – a mad scientist in a robot suit. I have no idea what playtester okayed such a ridiculously difficult boss at the start of the game, but they should be slapped. The boss constantly flies left and right, waves giant blocking metal arms in front of its one weak spot, and has two attacks that keep the player from being able to fight back unless they do *something* to recover. I’m not sure exactly what I was supposed to do since the game’s tutorial didn’t cover it, and no input ever managed to consistently help in the half-dozen times I tried to beat the first level of the game.
A truly terrible boss fight causes experienced players to reflect on all the things that they take for granted in game design. Bosses that can be staggered, ones with visible weak points, interruptable attacks – I’d never realized how much I was relying on these elements until I found myself up against a boss that stood impassive, firing a health-draining beam as I hit him over and over again without the slightest visible effect. The boss doesn’t even have any sound cues attached to it. It just hovers and attacks silently while the terrible soundtrack plays. Sometimes, the player’s ability to move from one part of the battlefield to another just stops working, forcing them to watch helplessly as the boss steals all of their bananas.
Every part of this game is terrible.
Ace Banana frustrated me like few games ever have, and it’s rare to see a finished title that gets every important design feature completely wrong. Ace Banana manages it, though, and sinks lower than almost any game I’ve ever played. The only reason I’m not giving it the lowest score I’ve ever given is that its amazingly poorly-translated menus are worth a few laughs.
That and, of course, pity. Don’t play Ace Banana.
Disclosures: This game is developed by TVR and published by Oasis Designs Limited. It is currently available on PSVR. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PSVR. Approximately 2 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. Supposedly there are multiplayer modes, but I was unable to find them.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E and has no consent descriptors, which is crazy, since it’s full of fantasy violence and contains a plethora of scantily-clad anthropomorphized bananas. It’s troubling how much the game wants players to find these bananas sexy. Children can’t use the PSVR, of course, but don’t even let them watch you play this, as it could lead to uncomfortable conversations about the creepy flesh-toned bananas that populate the game, and just what they invariably remind people of.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There are no audio cues of note.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.