Thursday, November 23, 2023

Toss! (PSVR2)


He flies through the air with a complete lack of ease….

Happy Thanksgiving! This year,, the holiday happens to fall smack in the middle of the latest attempt to Get More Activity In A Tiny House During A Minnesota Winter And No I Will Not Be Joining A Gym That Will Not Work Out.

This attempt will be leaning heavily on PSVR2, mostly your Beat Sabers, Pistol Whips, and Synth Riders, but thanks to a recent sale, I also picked up Toss!, which is great exercise but may piss me off too much to play it.

I’m a platformer guy. Always have been, despite largely ignoring the Mario and Sonic franchises for most of my formative years. And Toss is a platformer. It’s also the closest thing PSVR2 has to To The Top, one of my favorite PSVR games, which involved climbing, leaping, and grabbing my way through insane fantasy levels.

In Toss, you’re a monkey, trying to climb, leap, and grab your way through a bunch of mostly pipe-based levels. With 100% physics-based controls. Which is both great and part of the problem. Because you have to fling yourself through space using your arms. A lot. And both the speed and three-dimensional direction of your flinging through space is determined entirely by the speed and motion of one or both of your controllers. And it isNOT forgiving. And it is difficult to consistently calibrate, at least for me. And while there’s a smidge of leeway in “landing in the general vicinity of where you need to to not die”, there’s frequently zero leeway when you need to collect pieces of a banana floating along a very specific flight path that will let you get all the pieces and also land safely.

This. Is. Maddening.

I mean, when you nail it, it feels AWESOME. But it also feels a bit like luck. Which is a shame, because with a bit more room for failure - say, some kind of aim assist option, or your jump going in the way you’re looking and not the way your hands are moving, or a “dead zone” to help you go straight? This could have been a truly glorious experience instead of a “dozens of trials and errors to get through a single level” experience.

Now, like I said, I’m a platformer guy, and if you give me a trial and error situation with a near-instant retry on fail, I will have a pretty good time regardless. I’m wired like that. But it also feels unfair. Not in a “why did it do that I didn’t do that” way, but in the “you’re asking me for a level of precision I’m incapable of achieving intentionally about 50% of the time” kind of way.

Visually, it’s crisp, if a little plain. I don’t mind that. I don’t need cluttered environments. Everything is bright and colorful and what you can and can’t grab is very clearly delineated and that’s all the game needs.  Audio is fine except for one death noise which sounds like Michael Jackson and is distracting every time it comes up. 

Anyway, it wasn’t very expensive and I don’t regret buying it, because half an hour of it is enough to work up a light sweat, but I’m not sure if I’ll even ever get to the “flag” or “time attack” goals for the levels at the rate my progress is going.

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