No Gravity. Lots of Rings. Zero Fun.
In 1999, the world was graced with the unforgettable Superman 64. Labeled as one of the worst games of all time by critics and fans, players controlled a drunken Superman as he flew through a series of colored rings. With similar gameplay only in the vastness of space, VSR Void Space Racing essentially acts as spiritual sequel to this horrible N64 game.
VSR is a space racing sim in which the player needs to fly through rings just like Superman. There is one huge difference, however, in that there is no gravity. Saying the controls are loose is perhaps the biggest understatement of 2018. With one button to accelerate and one to break, controls are simple to understand but impossible to use. Since there is no gravity, the player needs to slam on the gas, point to the next ring like aiming in a FPS, accelerate through the ring, slam on the breaks, re-align for the next ring, and repeat. Alternatively, constantly holding down the accelerator, like in any other racing game, causes the player to fly off course uncontrollably. Also, since this is space, there is no up or down and the player is free to rotate using the shoulder buttons. This rotation in combination with the start/stop of an uncontrollable ship results in a nauseating experience.
To put things in perspective, I was never able to rank anything higher than last place, on the first track, on the easiest setting, after many attempts. In fact, I never got out of the last place pole position, with the computer AI beating my finishing time by minutes. Making matters even worse, the only way to unlock the next stage and different ships is to achieve first place in the subsequent track. The first stage and the one available vehicle is the only thing players will see along with relentless rage and frustration. Further, since there really isn’t a track to follow, the player is forced to fly from one colored ring to the next, acting as a guide. However, the rings are small and have unforgiving hit detection. Plus, if the player gets close to the ring but just barely misses, the game immediately punishes the player with time deductions without allowing the player to turn around and go back through it. The ring mechanic, controls, and wicked AI have no mercy whatsoever.
There is an option to aim for fastest times in the Time Trial mode but these stages are only unlocked when the Single Race mode is beaten against the brutal AI. Two players can also play split screen if you wanted to throw up together and the How To Play option let’s players experiment with the horrible controls freely. Even the soundtrack is designed to hurt the player with its incredibly loud volume. The techno beats will piece your ears upon first firing up the game. I had to turn down the in-game music via the options menu to the lowest setting to reach a reasonable volume level.
I respect the fact that the small team at Moviegames and SONKA tried something different with a space racer but this is not how it should be done. Instead of controlling like a dumpster with a busted jetpack, why couldn’t it control like Star Fox or when flying the Sabre in Halo Reach? And locking away content behind an impossible skill wall is punishing torture. It is a shame because VSR isn’t a bad looking game, it just isn’t any fun to play.
On Par With: Superman 64 (N64)
Even Worse Than: Star Fox 0 (Wii U)
Also Try: Solar Jetman (NES)