For all of the gusto that has long existed behind VR providing immersive experiences, there’s also been the feeling that all of this newfangled realm displacement has come at the expense of good old fashioned arcade style score chasing – the very thing that served as the genesis and backbone for gaming in the first place.
The counterbalance to that notion however are the numerous VR titles that not only manage to bring back classic arcade style score chasing, but manage to do so while also leveraging the immersive capabilities of VR technology into the bargain. There’s nothing complicated or especially convoluted with these games from a design standpoint, with snappy and easy to grasp inputs that everybody can use which underscore simplistic, yet masterful concepts.
Now if only some bright spark could port Virtua Cop and Time Crisis to VR, then we would all be set. In the meantime though, here are some of the best examples of VR games which satisfy that distinctly old-school pang for chasing scores and the bragging rights that are often synonymous with them.
One of the older and still one of the best examples of old school score chasing being brought kicking and screaming into VR, Beat Saber’s position at the apex of arcade style experiences has been well earned to say the least. The concept behind Beat Saber couldn’t be simpler. Armed with VR controllers akimbo, Beat Saber has players carving through incoming blocks with a pair of, well, lightsabers to the beat of the music. Beat Saber does quite literally what it says on the tin.
From Lynyrd Skynyrd to Imagine Dragons you’ll be slicing and dicing your way through those different coloured blocks at speed, but there’s more to it than that. Not only does the pace pick up hugely on the later difficulty levels but the ease with which anybody can play Beat Saber is truly its biggest boon. Bordering on instinct, even non-gamers can pick up the controllers and begin their block-chopping journey up to the apex of Beat Saber’s global leaderboard. The perfect marriage of classic score chasing with what is essentially a hyperkinetic workout, Beat Saber is one of the best examples of VR taking gaming back to its score chasing roots.
A heady marriage of arcade style score chasing with John Wick style shooting and bullet dodging, Pistol Whip like Beat Saber before it fully embraces the thrill of high score chasing, but does so by applying an immediately accessible spread of gameplay beats which ensures that anybody can get playing without delay. An on-rails shooter, Pistol Whip prescribes a straightforward premise. As enemies pop up from behind cover, charge towards you and begin opening fire, you must avoid incoming bullets all the while returning fire with your own until you reach the end of the stage.
Where Pistol Whip steps things up (and bears closer resemblance to Beat Saber than is obvious on first impressions), is in how it allows seasoned players access to the upper echelons of its global leaderboard by providing extra score for every kill that is made to the beat of the music. Augmented in turn by a number of different modifiers that can make each stage more challenging in a range of different ways, such as instant death, disabling auto-aim and more besides, Pistol Whip provides players with ample breadth to test the limits of their high score chasing escapades.
A full-throated transformation of the 2001 musical rail shooter of the same name, though Rez Infinite leverages VR to much more fully immerse the player in its digital realm of synaesthesia, it hasn’t forgotten the core tenet of its score chasing roots. Thrusting player into the role of a hacker that has plunged into cyberspace to rid it of viruses and rogue programs, Rez Infinite plays out most similarly to Sega’s Panzer Dragoon whereupon the player must destroy a veritable avalanche of incoming targets from all directions as quickly as possible by locking on up to eight targets, firing and then repeating the act.
Rez Infinite neatly separates itself from Sega’s series however in a multitude of ways. Sure enough, chasing those high scores is still at the very heart of Rez Infinite, but here each time you down an enemy the soundtrack gains extra layers to adapt itself while collecting sufficient ‘Overdrive Nodes’ allows players to unleash a screen clearing attack. Like every other game in this list Rez Infinite is both easy to play and difficult to master. Though that saying is something of a shopworn cliche it is absolutely applicable here, since Rez Infinite prides itself on getting players of all skill levels stuck in and turning them into score chasing savants once the one-more-go effect invariably takes hold.
Tetris Effect: Connected
Arguably a stellar adaptation of one of the most legendary score chasing games ever, Tetris Effect: Connected carefully threads that needle of both maintaining the timeless essence of a classic such as Tetris all the while meaningfully augmenting the core formula in a number of interesting and meaningful ways. Of course players can always hop straight into a game of classic Tetris and make their mark on its global leaderboard, but Tetris Effect: Connected augments its score chasing shenanigans surprisingly well.
Though the inclusion of Zen and Journey modes which make the most of the lavish audio-visual presentation of Tetris Effect: Connected are welcome, it’s really in the competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes that Tetris Effect: Connected elevates itself. First off, Zone Battle has two players duking it out with their tetrominoes where the Zone mechanic can be used by either player to score an early advantage. Though Score Attack and Classic Store Attack modes both let players get stuck into some good old fashioned versus competition to see who can get the highest score, it’s really the ‘Connected’ mode that stands out since it allows three players to team up and connect their Tetris stacks to take on CPU controlled bosses.