In 1952, the television show I Love Lucy aired one of its most classic episodes called “Job Switching.” Housewife Lucy Ricardo takes a job at a candy factory to prove to her husband that women are just as capable in the workplace as men. The gig is pretty easy at first: Lucy must grab a piece of candy as it moves along a track, wrap it in plastic, and drop it back on the belt. It’s an easy enough task that is repeated ad nauseam and, initially, without fault. “Gee, this is easy!”, Lucy proudly exclaims. Pretty soon the belt speeds up, causing her to lose the control of the situation as more and more candy zoom past, forcing her to frantically hide them in her blouse, hat, and eventually in her mouth. The shift boss arrives and is pleased with Lucy’s work, causing her to shout “speed it up a little!” to an off-screen employee. High-speed chaos and hilarity ensues. Shooty Fruity, a PlayStation VR game developed by nDreams, is the perfect 2017 analog to this episode. As a faceless drone for an elaborate supermarket, your job will be to quickly serve food and scan and pack groceries while an evil horde of fruit antagonizes your workplace.
I love everything about Shooty Fruity, from its concept and art style to its gameplay and Move functionality. This is a game that gets more and more fun the longer you play it, because new levels introduce more complex job assignments and enemy types that require experimentation with the game’s selection of weapons. This also makes revisiting previous levels worthwhile. Not only is it a chance to earn extra currency but replaying levels with new and more efficient tools makes completing their challenges considerably easier.
Challenges are what drive the game forward. While you could just as easily spend each level blowing up fruit to juicy pulp and doing a minimum level of work, opening up new levels and weapons require completing challenges, like earning amounts of juice, killing fruit with particular weapons, and fulfilling work quotas. The fruit of your labor (pun intended!) is shown inside the employee lounge, which operates as Shooty Fruity’s central hub. Here you can view a vending machine where you purchase the weapons you’ve unlocked, and a shooting gallery with which to test them out and add to a loadout. The shooting gallery is a great opportunity to see how different guns operate, even if it doesn’t really tell you which gun is the most effective against certain enemies. Still, it’s a fun way to test an impressive arsenal of handguns, shotguns, assault rifles, and more powerful tools, like grenades, rocket launchers and chain machine guns.
Shooty Fruity offers three different game types, each with their own unique set of rules. The first has you scanning groceries as they roll across the conveyor belt. You’ll pick up an item, scan it, and send it down another belt to be processed. The second type puts you in the quick service role as you grab small packages of food and place them on the corresponding sections of a lunch tray. Finally, a trip to the stockroom involves matching grocery items against those that appear on three small monitors, dropping them down the appropriate chute and pulling a lever to bag them all together. On top of all that work, you’ve got to worry about invading fruit by shooting them before they can completely destroy your workstation. Your weapons, as chosen by you before the start of the level, scroll across another belt placed at the eye level, waiting to be used in the name of sweet, fruity justice. I’ve found the quick service stages can get particularly frantic as food trays get more complex and demanding as do the flying cherries, giant watermelons, and explosive grapes you have to worry about.
Guns are not your only friend in the field. Power-ups are gradually unlocked and offer satisfying boons. like adding an explosive effect to each shot, armor piercing modifiers, and the most satisfying of all, timed infinite ammo. These power-ups appear as glowing coins brought to you on trays or conveyor belts, waiting to be picked up and dropped in a coin slot at your station. Sometimes it’s best to save these perks for moments when you need them, especially for those times you feel overwhelmed by enemies. Managing everything the game throws at you sounds pretty easy but like Lucy Ricardo, you’re going to find yourself struggling to keep your head afloat. The action comes at you fast and furious despite the fact that most of the fruit move pretty slowly. The sight of them bouncing and rolling your way and the sound of their ominous laughter, however, can be especially harrowing.
Using the Move wands to handle food and shoot guns adds so much entertainment value to the Shooty Fruity's experience. Although the game has you standing in a fixed position, you’ll use your hands and arms to reach out and grab items to scan and guns to fire. This is a game you’ll definitely want to make sure is played in an area free of tables, lamps, and small animals. One of my favorite things to do in the game is lob grenades. Normally, you can pick up the object with one hand and pull the pin with the other, but it’s way more fun to bring the Move wand up to your face to simulate the act of pulling the small metal pin with your teeth. Not only does this look and feel cool, it saves time and keeps your other hand free to deal with your work assignment.
There is nothing about Shooty Fruity I don’t like. In fact, it’s damn good fun. The concept is awesome, the theme is a joy, and the controls work really well. I can’t recommend the game highly enough and it should be considered a must buy for PlayStation VR owners.
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.