It seems obligatory for all motion-based consoles and systems to launch with a sports compilation game, and for the Oculus Quest that game was Sports Scramble. As past users of the Xbox Kinect or Nintendo Wii will testify, translating sports movements like throwing, batting and hitting make for an enjoyable introduction to motion-controlled game-play and it works equally well here.
Sports Scramble consists of three different games, tennis, baseball and bowling, with the hook being that all of these sports get scrambled during play. Hitting modifiers might turn your tennis racket into a golf club or your baseball into a beachball, the tennis net might suddenly raise up, or your bowling lane might shrink to six inches. It all makes for a goofy and fun party type game, although if you’re a sports purist you can disable the scramble feature and play it straight rather than for laughs. Either works well.
The game leans heavily towards an arcade-style of gameplay rather than being a realistic simulation of the various sports it represents. Auto-aim is on by default and means the game is instantly accessible for players of all ages and skill. You can, however, enable a pro mode if you want a greater challenge. This reduces the auto-aim and significantly speeds up the action, which is great for those of us wanting more of a physical challenge.
Although the game itself is readily accessible the same unfortunately cannot be said for the menus and training system. The load times weren’t exactly short and the menus were rather tedious to navigate. Largely due to the scrambled nature of the game-play, there’s a fair bit to learn before you can dive in. The tutorials do a decent job of introducing you to the game elements and you’ll pick it all up in no time, but they decided to break down every piece of instruction into individual training sections, that you must click into one after the other. Each section lasts only a few minutes before you must then exit and load another. I must admit I found this quite irksome as it probably took a good hour to just go through all the tutorials before I could actually play for real. At least this is a one-time investment and once up and running the three-sport games themselves are smooth, polished and run flawlessly.
Ok so that’s enough background let’s jump in and see what kind of workout we can get with this game!
In terms of entertainment, I enjoyed all three sports on offer here. Bowling really is great fun, and extremely well done, although the least physically demanding. As a Brit, I’ve never played baseball but the recreation here is certainly fun with simulated pitching and batting. You’ll definitely work your throw and batting hand in this one! The most active game, as in real life, is tennis, and that’s the subgame I chose to record my 30-minute fitness test with. Although the game offers multiplayer, for my test I decided to stick with single player against a computer tennis opponent. In addition to playing tennis during my test, I also engaged in some of the more active challenge modes, my favorite being a two racket mode where you are simultaneously fired at with blue and red balls and you must return serve with the appropriate colored racket. This challenge really gets the heart pumping and is the most active element of the game.
Fitness Preparation Tips
The play area scales with your playspace size so if you have a lot of room to move around then the game reacts accordingly and you’ll find yourself having to reach more balls going either side of you. It’s not a dramatic difference, but its definitely worth using your Quest where you have the most space to make it as active as possible.
There’s also an option to use overhand serves, I’d definitely make sure that is enabled if you have the room to perform them. It’s more fun and will give your arm and shoulder a better workout.
As I said in my introduction, the pro mode reduces auto-aim and greatly speeds up the ball speed so if you’re coordinated enough enabling that will increase the action slightly, and give you a much more difficult opponent.
You could wear a weighted vest for this if you want to increase the cardio output slightly. Wrist weights are an option too as they will better simulate the weight of a baseball, racket or bowling ball in your hand, as well as provide a modest increase in your calorie burn.
For the test itself, I used my Fitbit charge 2 to record heart and activity data and cleared out a large space in my lounge as possible to increase the tennis court to the maximum size allowed.
- Calories burned: 171
- Calories per minute: 6
- Average heart rate: 123
- Max heart rate: 143
- Active Minutes: 28
Overall the various activities in Sports Scramble vary from low to moderate intensity. Bowling is, of course, the least physically demanding, although great fun, baseball is probably low-moderate and tennis, which I tested here, is the most active. Note that I played as actively as possible to achieve these results, bouncing around on my toes, and hitting powerful, sweeping shots. It would be easier to play with less effort, but of course, that’s not what we are about here.
From pitching and batting in baseball to overhand serves and hitting smashes in tennis this game provides a great arm and shoulder workout for your swinging hand at least. There are challenge modes where you get to hold two rackets however so you can exercise both simultaneously if you desire, and there is the option to switch hands at any time.
There’s not much leg movement in baseball or bowling, but if you can create a big enough play space in tennis you’ll be rewarded with a more active game. On the hard difficulty level, the ball really moves quickly too so you’ll be sidestepping and lunging to get the ball at times. You can see I racked up over 2200 steps in 30 minutes which is pretty decent.
Core and Balance 7/10
You’ll need to put the effort in to feel the reward here, but playing on hard difficulty, with pro serves enabled and a willingness to put some force into your shots you’ll definitely work your core and midsection as you smash home runs and serve aces.
Time Perception 9/10
This is a real strength of the game. With three completely different game modes, a host of challenges and single and multiplayer options there is always something to do. It’s no problem at all to fill a thirty or even 60-minute session here and not get bored.
There’s a lot of content here with three very different sports, all of which you can play scrambled or straight, and with various difficulty levels, auto-aim assistance or pro modes with harder difficulty. At the highest level, even experienced gamers will find winning some of the computers matches a challenge, and there’s also multiplayer. You get awarded trophies and unlockables for completing challenges and there’s even a trophy room you can visit to see everything you’ve won. It will take a while to complete everything on offer here.
Fitness Scalability 7/10
This game is gentle enough for anybody to pick up and play, but with a little effort and menu tweaking can be made to be a fairly moderate workout that you could easily enjoy for an hour or more. It’s not going to give you a high-intensity workout, but its good clean fun that could easily see an otherwise sedentary person who might be on the couch watching Netflix, get up and throw a few virtual pitches or try and smash some home runs, and this for me is where the game shines. It’s very accessible, especially for people who might not often get the chance to play these sports for real.
Lack of Nausea 10/10
There is no artificial movement required at all in this game as you simply stand in your playspace. Therefore nausea should not be an issue for anyone.
Social Competition 8/10
This game has a multiplayer mode so you can go online and seek out real human opponents. As with many VR games, the player base is somewhat lacking but the developers have just now launched on Rift as well, making it crossplay between the two platforms, which should mean more users overall.
VRFI Fit Score 7.5/10
After a slightly lukewarm introduction courtesy of some rather tedious training modules, I actually have grown to really enjoy Sports Scramble. All the sports on offer here are wonderfully represented, with goofy and ridiculous scrambled modes providing laughs and entertainment early, whilst turning them off and upping the difficulty level provides a worthy challenge to master in the long run. There’s not much in the way of sports recreations on the Quest yet and if you enjoy them I’d say this is a really worthwhile title. It’s not cheap but if each game was sold for ten dollars they would all be worth it, so I think it’s decent value overall.
Very accessible and could get people up and playing who otherwise wouldn’t participate in such sports in real life.
Colorful, cartoon graphics raise a smile and create a happy, relaxed atmosphere.
Lots of variety in the three sports on offer, with both single and multiplayer options.
Runs very well, and the ball physics although simplified feel very good.
Variety of difficulty levels and challenges add replay value.
The menu system is rather convoluted.
The initial training sections are tedious and split into too many sections.
Sports Scramble is an Oculus Quest launch title that is now also available on Oculus Rift. Priced at $29.99 or £22.99 it supports both cross-buy and crossplay.