Space Pirate Trainer
A wave shooter is like the pizza of VR gaming. It’s relatively easy to make. You can spice it up with toppings, but there’s still little in the way of complexity. But the simple idea of behind it gives way to a wide spectrum in terms of quality. Sometimes a wave shooter feels like cheese and ketchup on a cracker. It has all the competent trappings of a shooter, but nothing makes you want to come back to it or try it again. But sometimes a wave shooter feels like a nice, thick Chicago-style slice. It’s so good in its simplicity that you want to take as much as you can get as long as your body lasts. I’m happy to report that “Space Pirate Trainer” is the latter.
Genre: Wave Shooter
Length: ~3 hours
PlayPSVR Score: 8.5 out of 10
The Crust: I was a person standing on a futuristic landing pad in space, with my personal spaceship behind me. I had a blaster pistols in either hand (controlled by the Moves). From the menus to the soundtrack, everything adds to the futuristic aura. Although there’s only one environment, it’s a graphically rich and interesting environment with the bright, flashing lights befitting of an airport in the middle of deep space.
The Sauce: While standing in this one spot, a variety of enemy robot drones would fly up in a variety of formations from beneath my landing pad. The enemies consists of some simple fodder that become difficult in large numbers and also larger more dangerous drones that require more focus to defeat. The enemies aren’t shy about being difficult targets, either. Although the PSVR doesn’t track the full 360 degree play field very well, you’ll quickly feel like you’re surrounded, even though the game makes a good effort to keep the enemies in the front-180 degree field. This was an appreciated touch, and I honestly don’t know how I would’ve fared if I had to contend with many enemies behind me as well.
The Cheese: The clever design of Space Pirate Trainer exists in the bullet-time mode that engages whenever an enemy’s shot gets near you. As a bullet approaches you, the game slows down enabling you to avoid it. It felt very much as if the game suddenly turns into “SuperHot” in the moments when it is most needed. This mechanic allowed me to really enjoy the full body-feel of VR. It felt natural to squat and bob and weave and twist my body to avoid the sometimes unforgiving volleys of bullets coming my way. Quickly dodging incoming fire while simultaneously returning some of my own made me feel like the Han Solo or Peter Quill, which I’m sure was the goal.
The Toppings: Wave shooters live and die by their weapon selection, and Space Pirate Trainer LIVES! The blasters have 6 different modes that can be used independently, ranging from single shot quark cannons and scanning lasers, to scattershot shotgun blasts and remote detonated grenade launchers. Each weapon has its own learning curve, strengths, and balances. And each combination feels as if it warrants its own play-through. Playing the game with a grenade launcher in one hand and quark shot in the other feels different than, say, dual shot-guns. Weapons can be changed on-the-fly, mid-stage, too. So you never feel stuck with your choice. The game also has a shield/baton that I could select by reaching over my shoulder. These can also be dual wielded and can be combined with the guns. While the shield is nearly invaluable in its wide ability to block nearly half of the field, the baton takes getting used to. It’s “lasso” effect can be used to draw in enemies so that they can be sliced by the baton, or it can be used to swing and smash enemies to the ground. It’s an extra gameplay style that’s welcome and warrants its own experimentation.
Putting it altogether, “Space Pirate Trainer” is just about the best wave shooter I can imagine, which is a bigger compliment than it sounds. The game wastes no time in starting the action, and it tracks both head movement, and hand movement beautifully. The bursts of gameplay are the perfect length to hit that score-attack, “just one more” sweet spot. The bullet-time gunplay, combined with the slick visuals, gave me that against-all-odds, skin-of-my-teeth adrenaline that all Space Pirates love.
PlayPSVR Score: 8.5 out of 10