It’s probably one of the most common unfulfilled dreams in America today; that age-old, childhood aspiration of growing up to be a supermarket clerk working in a stressful, thankless, multitasking environment under the constant scrutiny and criticism of your superiors. Well, thanks to virtual reality and nDreams, you no longer have to endure those sleepless nights imagining what might have been. Just strap on your Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or PSVR, load up Shooty Fruity and suddenly you’re there, listening to the horrible elevator/Wii Shop music and frantically scanning groceries while also using a whole arsenal of weapons to blow up mutant fruit.
Shooty Fruity could almost be called Job Simulator: Super Market Edition. If I didn’t know better I would probably have assumed that it was made by the same developer. That’s not a bad thing. Not by a long shot. Job Simulator was (and maybe still is) one of the highest grossing VR games for a reason. It’s a lot of fun to do totally mundane things in VR, and it has a good sense of humour. Shooty Fruity has you doing the peasantly tasks involved in working in a supermarket but pairs it with a wave shooter where you are being attacked by mutant fruit while you do your work. This seems to be a feature of the store, not a bug, and so they provide an endless parade of guns for you to dispatch the revolting produce with. The guns are flimsy and break after a few shots, but there will be another one along in a second so it’s no big deal.
Shooty Fruity starts out fairly simple. Scan groceries and send them down the chute to the baggage area while blasting easily blastable fruit. The items have barcodes and there are three different chutes, but that doesn’t matter. Just scan and toss. Simple enough. Actually pretty fun. But, as with real life, when you do well at something you are rewarded with more work that is more difficult. Pretty soon you have to fill trays with food of the correct type while keeping the villainous fruit at bay. The food is prepackaged and colour coded, and each tray gets one kind of food. No problem! Until it is a problem.
Pretty soon you aren’t just putting one food item onto trays, you have to put three or four, all different colours, all with their own designated spots and it’s no longer soft fruit like oranges and apples that are attacking. Now you’ve got huge pomegranates that eat bullets for breakfast rolling in and lobbing their explosive seeds at you, cherries flying in like helicopters and blowing up your station, or grapes coming in bunches and launching themselves in multiple directions. Things get hairy pretty fast and as you rush to fill trays you will inevitably drop red food cartons into the yellow bin, green into the blue and so on. Now you have to focus on making sure you get the right colour when you reach into the correct bin. And the fruit doesn’t stop coming. They have no mercy!
After that you’re back at the cashier stand, only now you have to search each item for the barcode, scan in, and then pay attention to which chute you are throwing it into. The lights beside the conveyor belt light up on the right one. You don’t have to do this, you can still just scan and throw, but which guns you get (or even if you get any at all) depends on how well you’re doing. You may have just unlocked a sweet assault rifle, but if you can’t properly scan your groceries and keep the monstrous meat of the vine at bay, you’re never going to see it. Same goes for power-ups. You can get full power ammo, explosive ammo and more but only by properly completing your duties and earning enough points.
While all of this is going on you get to listen to the disembodied voice of a woman who sounds like she is barely on this side of dead. She is obviously your superior since she is training you, telling you what to do, reprimanding you and criticizing you the whole time you’re dealing with all of this on your own, but she sounds like she can barely muster the energy and ambition to draw her next breath. The good news is that progression happens pretty quickly in this job. A few successful shifts and you’re moving on up. The bad news is the people who have already made it farther than you sound more miserable than you are.
If you need a break from the frenetic pace of the storefront you can hang out in the break room. This is probably my favourite part of the game. On the table in the break room is a plate, a bowl, and a mug and when you drop them or throw them they smash in a very satisfying way. If you break them on the table and then wipe the pieces off with your hand it’s very satisfying and you can almost feel the pieces against your hand.
The breakroom is where you can check the leaderboard, check your stats, change the game options, buy new weapons, try out your weapons, choose your loadout, and pick your next shift. To try out your weapons you go to the locker, grab a shift card and instead of pulling the “shift start” lever, you pull the “shooting range” lever. This opens up the wall and behind it is a shooting range full of fruit shaped wood cutouts. You can just blast away at them with your various weaponry or you can do a timed game where you see how many points you can get in 30 seconds. The cheerful woman is there to “encourage” you the entire time. Some of the break room is destructible so feel free to take out your aggression on the art, tables, and chairs. They shatter just as pleasantly as the dishes do.
This game will likely appeal most to kids and people with front-facing setups. There is no need for room scale or 360 here. You are always facing the same direction. However, that also means that there is a sizable group of people who will automatically write it off as something they are not interested in. Others may do the same because of the wave shooter aspect to it that could be seen as interfering with what would otherwise be a good Job Simulator clone. It’s hard to argue against either of these complaints. There are plenty of wave shooters in VR, I would argue there are too many, and two of the three platforms this game is launching on are capable of room scale experiences which makes it hard to justify the expense of a game that doesn’t utilize that feature.
On the plus side, Shooty Fruity is very well made. There are a lot of VR games released that feel like the developers just tossed something together as quickly as possible and released it, bugs and all. Shooty Fruity feels like a complete experience. The developers took the time to do it right and that level of polish really comes across in VR. Shooty Fruity is not a bad game. If you enjoy wave shooters and want a little bit of Job Sim intermingled with it, then this is your game! If you love to be stressed out and feeling like you’re constantly on the very edge of failure, this is for you. However, if you’ve been in the VR game for a while and you have trouble with the idea of another wave shooter then this isn’t a game for you.
Daryle Henry | Dads And Dragons
Oculus ID: theregoes2