If you were to get excited about "Ranch Planet" based on the game’s description, you’d be forgiven. It promises an intergalactic battle, featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy, and noble princess, and an old king. Here’s the game’s description, straight from the store:
“In the distant interstellar space，a galaxy called Ranch planet. Here lived an kind old king and his lovely daughter，Princess Rilla . However， it has lost its tranquility by a sudden misfortune—The king was critically ill and The evil tin man guard attempted to usurp the king's authority or he will destroy the whole planet~ The princess Rilla signaled to the Guardians of the Galaxy for help. A star defense battle is about to begin.”
Quick Notes Genre: First Person Shooter Length: ENDLESS Controllers: Dual Shock and Move Controllers Price: $14.99 PlayPSVR Score: 2
Unfortunately, nearly every single word above can in no way be applied to “Ranch Planet.” This game takes place on a pseudo-circus farm. The only evidence that there is a Princess Rilla is on a character select screen. And I’m not entirely sure who the old king is.
“Ranch Planet” is self-described as “the world’s first wrestling VR game.” However, I think even in that description, there’s a translation issue. Ranch Planet is the world’s first “wrangling VR game,” possibly. And by “wrangling,” I mean that you shoot a net at animals and reel them in.
So it’s a fishing game, actually.
Now fishing game’s can be pretty fun in VR, as evidenced by “Monster of the Deep.” WIth gameplay variety, you can take one mechanic and make it entertaining and engaging. However “Ranch Planet” decided to take one gameplay mechanic and hammer it into the ground with rotator-cuff-tearing monotony.
“Ranch Planet” offers four gameplay modes. Of the four, three of the modes require another person using the Dual-Shock for asynchronous multiplayer. The fourth mode is the only single-player capable mode, described as “Challenge Mode.”
In the single player mode, I had a gun that shot out a net. If the net hit an animal that was passing by, I could then reel the animal in with my other Move-controlled hand. The animals reeled in slowly, and I had to reel furiously, because there was a vulture on the opposite side of the path who would grab the animals I had caught, and pull them away from me. So the tug-of-war began, and I was handily defeating the vulture. However, a slow process was being made even more slow by the vulture. After winning tug-of-war twice, I decided a better strategy is to just let go when the vulture grabs, and use the time he’s flying off to catch a few animals without resistance.
NOT SO FAST! You can’t let go. So I could either palm and slap at my reel with my inanimate hand for what felt like an un-ending duration, or just futilely watch the Vulture fly away with an animal still attached to my gun while the rest of the targets pass by freely.
You get momentary power-ups to help out, but it doesn’t change the literally painful gameplay loop.
But what about the multiplayer modes, you ask?
How does this sound:
Imagine the above gameplay, but instead of freely shooting your net, you have to wait for symbols to pop up on the virtual screen, and then you call them out so that the player with the Dual-Shock can press the buttons in order so you can reload. And then shoot. And then miss. And then repeat.
Imagine the above gameplay, but you’re trying to shoot the other player while they chase animals. And you catch them and try to reel them in. And they have to furiously, destructively twirl thumbsticks to break free.
Imagine the above gameplay, but you’re trying to collect animals while the other player tries to collect animals.
This all goes without mentioning the horrible translation job in-game. The humor of which might be the best element of the game. Grammatical errors and blatant typos abound, which are good for a laugh, but not a $15 dollar laugh.
If I had to describe “Ranch Planet” in one word, it would be “painful.” Painful for my shoulder, painful for my ears, painful for my wallet, painful for my eyes, and painful for the relationships I have with whomever I’m playing.
“Ranch Planet” is virtual reality gaming’s “E.T.”