Retail jobs are, without a doubt, some of the most taxing, challenging, and stressful jobs out there. It’s really all any sales clerk can do to simply deal with customers, meet quotas, and survive the day with a little sanity. With less-than-fond memories of my retail days, I stepped up to the counter to start my new virtual job inside Shooty Fruity, a shooter simulation game by nDreams. “At Super Megamart, you get your groceries with a grin,” a disenchanted female voice squawks over a loudspeaker, as I peer out into a retro, 50’s-looking grocery store. “Employees, please scan all groceries and remember to shoot fruit on sight.” Odd instructions, but I had little choice but to focus on scanning, as items began coming down the conveyor belt at a steady speed. Despite the store being devoid of shoppers, it seemed like a pretty normal day at work… at least as long as I ignored the various kinds of guns hanging above my workstation.
Then the fruit came to life. “Please shoot the fruit and protect your workstation,” the perpetually unimpressed woman running the intercom announced as I frantically tried to continue scanning groceries with my left hand while unloading on what can only be described as a demon-possessed orange with my right. All around, apples, oranges, tomatoes, and pears came to life, dropping from the air vents, bouncing in from the distant warehouse, all intent on sullying my workstation and messing up my item-scanning groove.
Shooty Fruity is a manic, insane, and endlessly entertaining game which combines the simulation, time management, and first-person shooter genres, and does so with a glorious retro style. It’s fast-paced to the point of being frantic, which only makes it more fun. Unlike most VR shooters, you don’t move around much. You remain stationary, no ducking, no moving, just aiming and looking about. Think of Fruit Ninja, but with shotguns, a requirement to keep up some sort of busy, and a dash of Sausage Party silliness. While shooting mutant fruit is both fun and entertaining, the game remains pretty restrained in its humor, which is actually a bit of a shame. With such a crazy premise, you’d expect more cartoony, over-the-top moments in the game. As it stands, Shooty Fruity is just as likely to inspire a state of silent, highly focused concentration as it is five minutes of nonstop hysterical laughter, depending on the player and the level.
Weaponry starts out simple, with only one or two kinds of guns available, but the more you play, the more kinds of firepower you unlock. In keeping with the game’s frantic pace, there’s no reloading; you use a gun until it’s out of ammo and toss it aside in favor of a fully loaded weapon. Fortunately, Super Megamart believes in keeping its staff well armed, so there is never a shortage of firearms. New guns are brought out every few seconds, attached to an overhead conveyor line, and the sheer number of different kinds of firearms is simply delightful. From oversized pink pistols to automatic rifles, there’s a weapon for most any playstyle.
As fun and varied as the firearms are, they come with one major weakness which seems to be inherent to VR: aiming from a distance. The game does its best to help you out, providing a little red sniper dot to aim by, but it becomes all-but-imperceptible on far-off targets. It’s a general rule of nature that it’s easier to shoot a target up close than one far away, but it is noticeably more difficult in Shooty Fruity (and in VR in general) than with a target in the real world, leaving you to decide if you want to sacrifice your accuracy score and try to stop a fruit long before it approaches, or risk it rushing in and damaging your workstation.
While making juice out of mutant fruit is one of the primary focuses of the game, Shooty Fruity also rewards those who are able to keep up their cashier duty and continue to scan goods, despite the chaos of a citric invasion. Scanning enough groceries unlocks powerups in the form of glowing, oversized tokens. By inserting these into a slot on your workstation, you can unlock all kinds of boosts, from extra armor to exploding rounds of ammo, which are critical for taking down some of the tankiest fruits, such as bananas and the dreaded watermelon.
Weapons and fruit are not the only thing with variety in this game; there are several different levels which offer different kinds of busy work to be carried out while unloading rounds of ammo. While scanning groceries will take up the bulk of your time in this game, other levels provide different and even more difficult tasks. The cafeteria level, where you have to put the correct cubes, meat or fish into the corresponding trays proved to be such a challenging task that I ended up failing the level in thirty seconds flat. While it’s not something I want to play for hours on end, it’s a great way to blow off some aggression, make myself laugh, or, as the unimpressed intercom lady says, squeeze out a few frustration rounds.
Shooty Fruity is a strange, delightful VR game which combines the stress of simulation with the catharsis of a shooter. Rounds are short, frantic five-minute affairs which will test your ability to multitask, identify a threat, prioritize, and your aim. A hilariously fun and challenging title, Shooty Fruity is just as much fun for the VR fanatic as it is for the casual player.