I have a bit of a guilty pleasure for Olympic sports games and experiences of that ilk. I played Daley Thompsons Decathalon for hours upon hours on the Sega Megadrive as a lad. I remember me and a friend constantly inventing new techniques and ways to shave those precious seconds off out best times or add a few metres to our best jumps. There is something about these titles I find addictive but I am not quite sure why.
I had never heard of Ski Jumping Pro VR before but I jumped, or rather, Ski Jumped in this case at the chance to review it. As the title suggests, this is a game that throws you down a hill, has you flying through the air like Eddie the Eagle and challenges you to try to land without breaking your legs. It sounds simple but it is anything but in the opening hour or so.
There is a quite informative tutorial to help you get to grips with the basics of ski jumping. This tutorial is available before every jump you attempt, which is great if you get into a form slump or just forget what you are supposed to be doing. At the start of the game it was landing jumps that was my constant nemesis and even with many attempts under my belt and trying the tutorial before every jump, I spent a lot of time sliding down the snow on my bottom. It may as well be renamed Bottom Jumping Pro VR at this point.
I must admit at this time I was not enjoying the game much at all. Seeing my name fall further and further down the leaderboard was disheartening but every now and again I cracked it and executed a great jump. It was these brief moments of greatness that kept me going through the constant bottom skiing that surrounded it. I knew I had it, I just had to be more consistent and nail the technique more regularly.
As you jump you accrue stars and cash depending on your performance in each event. This cash can be spent on equipment, training and sponsorship to improve your character and money earning potential going forward. It was nice to be slowly improving your character and along with enhancing your technique on the slopes, seeing your character start to succeed and eventually, win.
By this point, I had started to nail my landings and started winning individual jump meetings. This meant my character was rising up the leaderboards and getting into the mix in the big events. This meant more stars, more cash and therefore, more training and better equipment. Now I was starting to enjoy the game, I was actually competing, earning more money and getting better gear. It was quite an addictive gameplay loop, even if it was a very simple one.
Every jump then turned into a test of the minor things, instead of just hoping I land I was really working on the finer points of my technique. Landing later, keeping more still and improving my balance. It was quite thrilling to know that a small error, a lapse in judgement or a lack of technique could be the difference between me winning an event or not. At this point, I was flying through events and winning most of them unless I made mistakes, which still happened occasionally and I really started appreciating the game and what it was trying to achieve.
The technique for getting high scores and longer jumps is simple in theory. Your jumps are split into sections and judges will mark our accordingly, from the take-off to the landing and even the flight path, everything is judged and marked accordingly. All these sections have specific movements that need to be completed with the Move controllers and it is all quite simple really. Getting everything nailed in the same run is where you will fail or succeed in each event.
There is not a lot more to Ski Jumping Pro VR than that really, it may seem a bit light on features or modes but I enjoyed the speed and simplicity this offered when playing. I could jump in for a quick few runs without any bloat clogging up the experience. In longer gameplay sessions I could get a massive amount done, its simple, quick and no-nonsense. I do think some players may want more from the experience though and I understand that. This is Ski Jumping and I admire its simplicity and focus on the actual Ski Jumping.
The presentation, like the gameplay loop, is simple too. The graphics are basic and the sound design matches. Let's be honest though, we are not playing this title for its sights and sounds. What is on offer is good but its not the best sounding or looking VR game I have played by far. Luckily as your flying down slopes and trying to eek every inch out of every jump, the graphics and sound are the last things on your mind
Ski Jumping Pro VR really suits PlayStation VR, the Move controllers are used like ski poles and you are always facing forward. Its a perfect title for PlayStations virtual reality setup and it works really well. Tracking is good and I had zero issues with the VR implementation whatsoever. I was just left to enjoy working on my technique and competing without the worry of the camera location, VR tracking or any of the common VR issues you sometimes get with PSVR.