Hands-on: Cartoon Magic With Ralph Breaks VR
Videogame tie-ins with movies have always been a dicey proposition, sometimes succeeding whilst a lot fail terribly. Location-based entertainment (LBE) company The VOID has seemingly attacked this problem head on by offering virtual reality (VR) experiences that aim to truly immerse players in their content. Having previously released Ghostbusters: Dimensions and then Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, the company has collaborated once again with ILMxLAB as well as Walt Disney Animation Studios for Ralph Breaks VR, complimenting movie Ralph Breaks the Internet.
Released towards the end of 2018, The VOID invited the VRFocus team to experience Ralph Breaks VR whilst at CES 2019 last week – making for a welcome break from the conference chaos. Another four-player adventure – there was only three of us so four isn’t essential – Ralph Breaks VR is a much more light-hearted affair when compared to Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, offering rich cartoon aesthetics, with bold colours that really help to transport you into Wreck-It Ralph’s world.
If you’ve ever been to any of The VOID’s experiences before then you’ll know the setup, for those that haven’t The VOID has a nice streamlined system from start to finish. It always starts with a video introduction – this time with Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz – detailing the story and what you’ll need to do. After that it’s time to suit up, donning PC backpacks and connected headsets. The experience does cater for most people and sizes, so if you’re slightly larger (like me) then there are additional straps to keep the whole backpack PC in place.
Ralph Breaks VR is much more hands-on than Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, with an opening couple of puzzles properly using the environment. In one puzzle two walls suddenly light up with green ticks and red crosses, the task begins to place your hands on as many green symbols as possible. The task works great as a warm-up whilst helping new players understand that they can interact with the environment.
Next up was a classic game of Space Invaders, with the group split in two, we were tasked with shooting the wall of aliens from either side. Once again this was about using the environment rather than a gun peripheral, with a console providing arrow keys and a fire button to aim and shoot a cannon. This is where you could employ some teamwork with each player controlling different aspects of the cannon.
What really made Ralph Breaks VR standout, and thusly competitive was the scoring – located on a digital watch. Once the VRFocus team had found this feature everything changed because someone would get the bragging rights of being declared the winner. Going from what we thought was a team experience to a winner takes all scoring challenge suddenly upped the excitement even further, perfect for the next stage.
And this was where the guns came in (sort of). Not the normal bullet holding kind, instead these were food throwers, more precisely pancake and ice-cream launchers. Heading inside the Pancake Milkshake Diner it was time to shoot some kitties and bunnies, trying to max out the score with a well-aimed shot. This became even trickier in the next area with flying cars dropping coins to shoot, as well as drones and a few other items.
All the set, interactive pieces were fast and energetic, ideal for younger VR players – The VOID does have a minimum height of 48 inches (1.20 m) tall and visitors must be at least 10 years old – but to be honest Ralph Breaks VR is great fun whatever the age. In fact, VRFocus enjoyed it that much we’d recommend it over Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire. As always though, the time just flies by and it’s over before you know it. If you’re a VR fan that’s not tried any LBE content yet, now that The VOID has built a better roster of original content it’s certainly worth checking out.