The fate of the world rests in your hands if you dare enter the realm of Arcade Saga. I had the courage to purchase this game for $19.99, though it seems I just missed the $4.99 sale which makes this game a steal! Then I learned you really get 3-games-in-1; Fracture, Smash, and Bowshot so buyer’s remorse no more. With the addition of single or multiplayer options, along with “Arcade” or “Fun” mode, there is a lot to offer here. For this review, I am going to focus on the single player “Fun” mode and would recommend that anyway, at least to start off with. Be prepared to compete each round against your fellow A.I. entities and see how you stack up on the global leaderboard. Buckle up, it’s time to dive in and save the human…I mean…ummm…A.I. race?!
The VR Institute of Health and Exercise rated the experience as an equivalent to working out on an elliptical machine. According to their convenient calorie conversion table, someone like me (weighing 210 lbs at the time of this review) should burn roughly 600 calories per hour playing Arcade Saga which seems a bit high. As you can imagine, this depends on many factors within the game. I used the HTC Vive in about a 6 foot by 10-foot area for this review which worked great. To keep track of heart stats, I used a Fitbit Charge HR.
Lessons learned: Arcade Saga is touted as a 360-degree gaming experience, something I hadn’t thought entirely through before trying it out on the Oculus Rift. For those not familiar, the Rift’s standard tracking system is composed of two sensors which work very well while they can see your HMD and controllers. As soon as you turn your back (quite a few instances required as you move to higher levels) you will start to lose tracking which leaves you completely helpless. Oculus does advertise that three-sensor 360-degree tracking is fully supported.
Also, you probably want to have a decent wrangle system to keep the cable off the floor and out of your strike zone. I found multiple instances where my arms were waving around like a crazy person trying to defeat these geometric Overlords, only to be subdued by my ill-placed tethered cable. This becomes especially noticeable as you enter the 360-degree rounds where you may be spinning more frequently (oh when will you be here Steam 2.0 technology?)
Intensity (Listed individually)
Each game has its unique offering, which will be a common theme. I’ll break out the review in this section but lump them all together for all the following categories. My resting HR is on average 65 bpm.
Let’s start with my favorite, Smash! This was by far the best of the bunch – everything about the experience is on-point. This may start off a bit slow, but trust me, things pick up quickly. The “Bonus Round” provides the best workout, where balls of fury are flying every which way requiring you to be like Mr. Miyagi, doing your best “wax on, wax off” motion. Your shields require you to block, hit, push, whatever you can to avoid losing in this futuristic ping-pong meets air hockey extravaganza.
30-minute stats Average HR: 115 Max HR: 125 Calories burned: 165
Intensity Score: 8/10.
Pro Tip: Hit the balls off the wall at severe angles to score easier.
Bowshot is pretty cool. Who doesn’t like shooting things with a high-tech bow and an endless supply of arrows? You do get a lot of work with your arms from aiming and shooting but nothing that will make you feel you can splurge for a cheat day with your diet. I was definitely aware of the HMD cable which limited movements I wanted to try. This will definitely be a different story with wireless headsets as Bowshot requires a lot of ducking, diving, spinning – whatever Robin Hood-esque moves you have in your arsenal so I will give this a shot again in the future.
30-minute stats: Average HR: 90 Max HR: 105 Calories Burned: 112
Intensity Score: 5/10 (with a lot more potential)
Fracture is…well…kind of a warm-up or let down, not really sure which one. It is the equivalent of banging a tennis ball against a wall with a racket, without the actual movement of chasing the ball. So, there is more that could be done with this module but hey, such is life.
30-minute stats: Average HR: 70 Max HR: 75 Calories Burned: 61
Intensity Score: 3/10.
This is where you feel the burn! Shooting arrows, blocking, wacky stick…your arms will get some action. Again, Smash was the top dog here, but you will get some good action out of all the games.
This is a typical arm-centric game that didn’t provide much challenge for the lower body. Again, with a wireless headset and 360 tracking, I could see some crazy ninja maneuvers being incorporated which would bring the legs into the game.
Core and Balance 4/10
There is some challenge with core stability as you brace yourself for Smash and duck/spin for Bowshot. This is kind of one of those deals where it can be as hard as you make it.
Time Perception 9/10
I actually really enjoyed playing this game, not realizing I had spent about an hour completely engaged after I pulled off my headset. Once you find your groove, it is easy to get lost in trying to progress to the next level and get to the top of the scoreboard.
There is a lot of opportunities to come back to this game. With all the options and different levels, I wanted to keep getting back in there to challenge a top score. I only made it through about 6 rounds for each game so there is way more to discover (Fracture = 40 rounds, Smash = 20 rounds, Bowshot = 24 rounds).
Fitness Scalability 6/10
It’s hard to fully gauge the true potential of how this game scales with fitness but I could see it demanding much more effort as you progress through the rounds. It may be a bit difficult to incorporate this into your regular fitness routine but you could probably get creative and target specific areas to focus on.
Lack of Nausea 9/10
This was never an issue for me and I can’t see many people feeling I misled them here. At worst, maybe the spastic movements of the geometric overlords and fast-paced scenery will cause a bit of minor blurriness, but nothing that would make you want to walk away from this game.
Social Competition 5/10
I tried to connect in the multiplayer option several times without any success. Obviously, your success will be dependent upon others looking to connect at the same time as you. I could see this being a way to increase the replayability and time perception if you were able to compete against warm-blooded humans.
VRFI Fit Score 7/10
Overall, gameplay is solid and there are some setup options in your control that would make the experience better. There are plenty of rounds to keep you coming back and the leaderboard is a key motivator. With 3-games-in-1, you get a lot for the price.
Fracture could use a bit more work and the “Arcade” mode was less engaging than the “Fun” mode. I wasn’t able to connect with other players as this is time dependent so plan accordingly. Current hardware technology creates some limitations but look for this to improve in the near future.