While bananas are best known as delicious yellow fruit full of potassium, the guardian Banana Archers have had enough of the troublesome monkeys eating their defenseless baby bananas. In an attempt to protect the remaining banana horde, you must use unconventional weapons against the characterized evil monkeys.
Ace Banana includes multiple control methods based on what type of controller you already own. The game is perfectly playable with a DualShock 4 controller, a single PlayStation Move controller, but if you want to to be entirely immersed, you’ll want to have two Move controllers. With this setup, players can aim and shoot wacky arrows out of their bow at incoming monkeys. Monkeys follow preset paths in a full 180 degrees in front of you. The entire experience feels tongue in cheek, giving the game personality and providing some hilarious moments. It doesn't hurt that the actual shooting mechanics in the game are enjoyable, and work surprisingly well. I’ve found the Move controllers to be much easier to aim than using a DS4.
As you play, you’ll encounter multiple waves of enemies before reaching a massive boss. Throughout the waves, you’ll giggle at the different outfits and masks the monkeys will wear. Non-clothed monkeys can be defeated with a single shot, but those wearing outfits tend to require multiple hits. Construction worker monkeys will deflect plungers with their hard hat; clown masks will provide temporary protection, and boxing monkeys use their oversized mitts to block incoming attacks. If you miss, or a monkey sneaks around the side and reaches your stash, you are given one last chance to save your precious bananas. As they scamper away with the loot, if you can hit them before they disappear, you will rescue your bananas. There are multiple spots that you must protect; shifting your perspective from the ground to higher elevation.
Reaching the game’s first boss should be easy enough, but that’s where the game’s difficulty can impede your progress. The first boss consists of a giant robotic suit being controlled by a single monkey. Armed with the ability to suck up all your bananas and mighty fists that will pound you into the ground, I found it took well over a handful of attempts to finally defeat him. You'll have to perfect your aim and keep moving between locations if you want to defeat him and save your bananas. It’s possible that it may be easier based on what type of ammo that you have equipped. Later stages are so packed with monkeys on-screen, you’ll have difficulty trying to target them all swiftly enough to protect all of your bananas.
Sometimes enemy monkeys will drop ammo that is just as zany as the monkeys themselves. You start by firing plunges that will stick to faces, but after a few enemies, you’ll be launching rubber fish, shuttlecocks, heavy rocks, and other types of communication. Not all are very useless, and you'll learn which ones to ignore in time. The heavy rocks, for example, can't go very far, great if you have a lot of monkeys right in front of you, but terrible for trying to pick off foes in the distance. There are also power-ups that can clear lanes from all monkeys on-screen. My personal favorite is seeing multiple pandas roll from the tree top village and across the multiple wood-planked paths.
Tracking when launching arrows seem to be satisfactory, but I can’t say the same regarding the hub area. Here, you grow bananas by providing sunlight, water, and food. It's like having your own virtual banana pet. Reaching for the items to help the bananas grow is a crap shoot. I’ve sometimes had to reach forward at least 3 feet just to be close enough to get them, but then I’ll lose all tracking, and watch my clawed hands fly off into the distance. It's hilarious when it happens, but shaking the Move controllers tends to reset their position. Don't bother messing with the hub area if you are using a DS4, as it flat out doesn't work. Also, your position in the game world never seems to be perfectly centered. Regardless of how many times you try and reset your position or recalibrate, you are always off to the right side.
Developer TVR (Time of Virtual Reality) and publisher Oasis Game are already planning for the future with Ace Banana. Currently, the game only has a single-player mode, but a two-player online cooperative mode will be coming to the game in the coming months. As it stands today, Ace Banana is an entertaining arcade gallery shooting game for the PlayStation VR. The bright, colorful visuals work well with the artistic approach and characterized monkeys.
Note: The review for Ace Banana is based on a digital PlayStation VR copy of the game, provided by the publisher.