Cosmic Smash makes for an unlikely reboot candidate but, two decades on, C-Smash VRS stylishly adapts this arcade classic for PSVR 2. Read on for our full review:
Ever since modern VR's early days, there's been a steady slate of Dreamcast adaptations. Rez Infinite set a high bar early on, later followed by Space Channel 5, and Samba De Amigo is based on the sequel. Then we have C-Smash VRS, which opts for a full remake. Arguably one of SEGA's most obscure games, I'm still surprised but personally thrilled that Cosmic Smash is getting a second chance.
Platforms: PSVR 2
Release Date: 6/23/23
Developer: Wolf & Wood
Mixing Squash and Breakout with a first-person perspective, C-Smash VRS involves hitting colored pads across this space station. Call the ball toward you through a pulling motion, use your other controller as a racket, move left and right with the analog stick, and serve. It's an intuitive control system that feels effortless to learn and, though there isn't tremendous gameplay depth, that's key to C-Smash VRS' arcade-like charm.
Following a brief tutorial, C-Smash VRS opens up online multiplayer and a solo 'Journey.' The latter sets up a quick campaign across five planetary orbits with two difficulty options. Zen Mode lets you restart stages if you don't succeed, while failing in Challenge Mode means a complete restart. Choose one of several potential routes around this planet, each with different stages, and begin your journey.
Each stage primarily assesses your performance based on speed, ranking you from 'D' to 'A.' Your goal to hit every panel stays the same, but each stage presents different challenges. Some panels require multiple hits, while others move position or have special abilities, like destroying every panel in a horizontal line. Indestructible gray tiles often block your path, forcing a different approach. Like Squash, the ball bounces back toward you and play doesn’t stop until each tile is gone; there’s no penalty for missing shots beyond losing time.
C-Smash VRS effectively uses PSVR 2 haptics and hitting the ball adds a subtle controller vibration that complements the racket swing. Repeat hits slowly charge your 'Power Smash,' which comes in several forms during Journey. One ability lets you power through multiple panels simultaneously, while another holds the ball atop your racket for precise aiming. Adaptive triggers also create a satisfying resistance when activating this ability.
Jumping into stages or online matches feels straightforward, and the ranking system adds considerable replayability. Every time I got a C rank, I tried again to hit A rank. C-Smash VRS is well suited for quick play, helped by an appealingly colorful presentation and energetic retro-futuristic soundtrack. I quickly found my rhythm, and while I wasn't constantly moving my feet, the arm swinging had me sweating.
It's a simple, well-executed idea; my only gameplay gripes are minor. When pausing during Journey stages, the stage timer keeps ticking and there isn't a retry option for the stage when something's gone wrong. You have to wait for the timer to run out. I understand this not being in Challenge Mode, but Zen Mode is a different story. These are small issues but ones I would love to see addressed in future updates.
Regarding versus play, C-Smash VRS features four different multiplayer modes with decent variety. 'Head-to-Head" sees who can hit the most panels, 'Firewall' involves tagging and holding zones by switching them to accumulate points, and 'Bodyshot' uses narrow stages and you must directly hit your opponent. Finally, 'Quickshot' uses growing blocks and you score more points for hitting them when they're smaller. If no one's about, a training room appears to help pass the time while matchmaking occurs.
C-Smash VRS - Comfort
C-Smash VRS only allows moving left or right across stages, either with teleportation or artificial locomotion. Blinkers add a vignette with a slider for adjustable strength, left-handed play is supported and you can adjust the racket angle. Sense controller and headset vibrations can also be switched off in-game or through the PS5 settings menu. The game's physicality can also turn this into a workout, and I was sweating throughout.
I previously said C-Smash VRS could be the multiplayer game PSVR 2 needs and after diving into the full release, I stand by that sentiment. I didn't have any matches organized pre-release, so I was lucky to find another player by pure chance. We spent considerable time going through all four multiplayer modes, leading into some competitive matches that quickly became a personal highlight.
C-Smash VRS Review - Final Verdict
RapidEyeMovers and Wolf & Wood have done Cosmic Smash justice with this VR reimagining and I found C-Smash VRS successfully tapping into that "one more game" mindset. While Journey isn't a long campaign and the arcade-style gameplay doesn't have significant depth, there's strength in its simplicity that makes it an easy recommendation. Boosted by a strong multiplayer component and a slick presentation, it's a fine addition to the PSVR 2 library.
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