Like many of you, I wasn’t aware of Baby Shark until its initially innocent — if inexcusably aggravating — theme tune was taken hostage by an inescapable internet meme in 2018. In Baby Shark VR Dancing, though, meme turns to nightmarish reality.
It is perhaps a little unfair that the original has been tainted in such a way (that is if it’s even possible to taint something already so admirably detestable), and thus I approached Baby Shark VR with a healthy dose of trepidation. But, being the professional I am playing children’s games in four-day-old “whatever, it’s quarantine” clothing, and in desperate need of a shave, I’m able to separate my expectations with those of the target market. You know, the ones VR headset makers tell you not to give VR headsets.
And that’s the kicker here. We’ve seen some attempts at kid-friendly VR in the past, but it has to be said that Baby Shark seems like an especially young age to skew for a game, especially considering that it’s only appearing on PC VR headsets right now. All jokes aside, I’ll reluctantly admit what’s here is well-made, it just resurrects the question of if this type of VR content should exist, at least right now.
Baby Shark VR Dancing is comprised of two parts. Firstly there is, yes, the bit where everyone sings at you with hatefully happy smiles in ear-shattering high-pitched squeals. It’s a singalong with subtitles and you can blow bubbles from two water guns. The visuals are sharp and the animation is silky smooth, making for a surprisingly well-produced product. It’s the VR equivalent of the two-minute YouTube videos you’ll leave a toddler to cycle through just to finally, please god, get a moment’s rest.
The second part of the package is decidedly weirder. It’s essentially a VR boss fight; a giant octopus arrives to capture your friends and you fight back by shooting bubbles from those water guns at it. Again, it’s all well-made, but more than a little troubling that this is essentially a first-person shooter for tots. At least other VR games for kids like Schell Games’ Water Bears VR go for more positive developmental mechanics; this seems to be setting you up for a life of drinking Monster Energy and developing an online alter ego comprised of numbers and the letter z.
At $9.99, Baby Shark VR Dancing isn’t asking a lot from you and what’s here is genuinely well-made, if a little insufferable to the more mature mind. But the point remains that many VR headsets makers set an age limit of 13 for use. This appeals to a much younger audience, one that I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable leaving inside an Oculus Rift or Valve Index, especially when they’re essentially playing a shooter with training wheels. As tempting a lockdown distraction this may seem for families, I’d exercise extreme caution all the same.
Baby Shark VR Dancing is out now on SteamVR.