Mash Me Up is an upcoming online multiplayer VR game that pits players against each other in bite-sized 1v1 minigame scenarios on Quest headsets. It’s available in open beta from this weekend.
— Holonautic (@holonautic) August 27, 2022
Developed by Holonautic, the team behind Hand Physics Lab, Mash Me Up presents an amusing 1v1 multiplayer arcade game for Quest, using Meta avatars and supporting both Touch controllers and hand tracking.
To get started, you simply press the big red ‘Mash Me Up’ button on the main menu. You’ll then be matched against another random player online and face off against each other in a short party-style minigame. The games are randomized from a selection that vary significantly in style and seriousness. Some are more intellectual and thought-based, whereas others are more silly, physical and instinct-based activities. There’s a Mario Party feel to it all — as the title suggests, anything goes.
After a few rounds with the Holonautic team at Gamescom, I was left impressed with the sense of presence found in the intimate chaos of the randomized minigames. One of the games we tried, Flingball (pictured above), sees players stand opposite each other and peg smaller balls at one larger ball sitting between them. The goal is to push the larger ball across a line on the opposing player’s side – like Rocket League, but incredibly stripped down.
What made Flingball feel fantastic was the realistic physics interactions between the small and big balls. These physics simulations are the foundation for many of Mash Me Up’s minigames and just like Hand Physics Lab, the team has put significant effort into making them feel satisfying to use.
However, that’s easier said than done when you’re building for multiplayer and networking is brought into the mix. A physics-based online multiplayer experience requires heavy performance optimization, Holonautic tells me — up to five times more than single player. Because of this, other titles often take shortcuts or make estimations for physics interactions in multiplayer — Mash Me Up doesn’t.
Holonautic have also put thought into the potential pitfalls and dangers of randomized 1v1 matchmaking as well. The hope is that the intimate nature of 1v1 games – which lack an audience to perform to – will help curtail the potential for inappropriate behaviour. In the worst case scenario, players can always easily leave any match at the drop of a hat. Plus, a future update will also add the ability to play specifically with your friends, if randomized matchmaking isn’t your style.
Even after trying just three of Mash Me Up’s minigames at Gamescom, it was clear to me that Holonautic are onto something. This non-committal, immersive and simple multiplayer is the kind that is has huge potential for success in VR, while offering a presence that can’t be emulated in flatscreen experiences. There’s also huge potential for expansion with new features and additional minigames — the sky is the limit.
Mash Me Up goes into open beta this weekend, available for Quest and Quest 2 headsets via App Lab.