Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: December 17, 2018
Smash Hit Plunder is an action party game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for PlayStation VR. Smash Hit Plunder’s developer Triangular Pixels was officially founded in 2014 by technical director John Campbell with over a decade of experience having developed World Tour Soccer 1 and 2 on PSP, Wonderbook on PS3, Sony London Studio’s VR demos and room-scale obstacle course VR game Unseen Diplomacy on HTC Vive, alongside creative director Katie Goode’s augmented reality and virtual reality experience. John Campbell and Katie Goode were named the BAFTA’s Breakthrough Brits in 2018. Can Triangular Pixels create the most fun and immersive social screen multiplayer VR game in the form of Smash Hit Plunder?
The story revolves around a young mage who returns from magic school to find that his family home has been held at a hefty ransom by a ghostly debt collector that is haunting the family’s castle. Utilising his newly honed magic skills; the young mage must loot the family castle that he has only just inherited to pay the debt collector and ultimately take ownership of the castle.
Gameplay begins with a letter about your character’s castle’s current predicament before meeting the grand mum who puts your character through his paces in a brief, well paced tutorial. Shortly afterwards, you are thrust into major gameplay elements from the hideout that is where your journey begins as you are tasked with the challenge of finding as much treasure as possible inside a particular room or group of rooms within the given time limit. Levels are unlocked by collecting crowns as every level has a particular quantity of treasure to collect before earning an additional crown to represent how successful your attempt at collecting as much treasure as possible before time expires. However, the accumulated quantity of treasure is also important to unlocking levels as the landlord will show up from time to time in order to unlock more of the castle after collecting enough treasure, while players can return to improve their score for each level in any order after a level has been unlocked.
Environment design revolves around an old castle in a fresh take on the dungeon crawler genre. Environments are situated on multiple floors, so there are staircases, while rooms contain various furniture, vases, ornaments, books and more besides. Enemies will be encountered along the way as ghosts located in certain rooms of the castle will throw objects at your character. As it is an old castle; there are lots of spiders, rats and pigeons scattered about that can be chased out by throwing an object in their direction or at them.
The control scheme for a single PlayStation Move controller includes pressing the move button to walk to the highlighted footsteps; holding the move button while using the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality to turn to the left or right; holding the trigger button on highlighted objects such as vases followed by using the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality to throw or shake an object to reveal the treasure within the object or interact with other objects such as opening cupboard or wardrobe doors and even bringing food towards your face to eat it; holding X to collect the treasure; and holding start to recalibrate head tracking, while two Move controllers allows the VR player to throw and interact with objects much more frantically by being able to do so with both hands. Head tracking is utilised efficiently enabling the player to not only look around their immediate surroundings for treasure, but also to avoid objects thrown at your character. The control scheme for the DualShock 4 controller includes pressing X to walk to the highlighted footsteps; holding X while using the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality to turn to the left or right; holding R2 on highlighted objects such as vases followed by using the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality to throw, shake or interact with an object; holding L2, square or O to collect the treasure; and holding the options button to recalibrate head tracking. Comfort options include darkening or narrowing the surrounding environments; walking in gradual steps and rotating in small increments or alternatively to have full immersion in all three areas of movement.
Graphically, Smash Hit Plunder is charming as environments, objects and characters are brought to life in a mixture of modern meets retro from an immersive first-person perspective in virtual reality, while the social screen viewpoint still captures the retro art style, albeit from an isometric camera angle.
Smash Hit Plunder’s presentation is quite immersive as the player is able to select a mode and level by picking up a dagger and placing it into a specific area of the book that is in front of the player at the hideout before picking up a mirror and bringing it towards you to enter the level. Meanwhile, comfort and general options are presented on scrolls, while loading screens feature a sand timer in a retro graphical style.
Voice-overs are essentially comedy mumbling to represent the words within the speech bubbles, while sound effects include picking up, throwing or interacting with objects, eating food and burping, collecting treasure and more besides, alongside instrumental music that speeds up as time is close to ticking down to zero.
The trophy list includes 34 trophies with 18 bronze trophies, 10 silver trophies, 6 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Fortune Favours the Brave bronze trophy for unlocking the first dungeon, while there are some trophies that are hidden trophies, but would be easy if knowing exactly what to do such as the Mouse Trap silver trophy for killing a mouse with cheese. The vast majority of the trophies are quite hard including the Leave No Vase Unturned bronze trophy for finding and visiting every secret room; The Last Place You Look silver trophy for entering every room; The Crowning Glory gold trophy for collecting every crown; and The Indiana Collector gold trophy for collecting one of everything. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 20 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although the difficulty curve is in relation to learning the controls of how to move your character, alongside picking up, throwing and collecting items and treasure before being able to explore and have fun.
Social screen multiplayer is where Smash Hit Plunder thrives as the VR player views everything and explores the castle from the first-person perspective of the mage, while up to three further players explore the castle from an isometric viewpoint on the TV as different characters such as goblins. Competitive multiplayer sees players trying to find the jewellery box and deliver it to the mage’s grand mum in multiple consecutive scenarios that occur in different rooms that is especially good as the VR player and the TV players can simultaneously be in two separate rooms. A further competitive multiplayer mode challenges the VR player to free ghosts from cages situated in rooms around the castle by collecting gems representing each ghost, while TV players need to prevent the VR player by throwing objects to stun the mage until time runs out. Meanwhile, co-operative multiplayer tasks all participating players to collectively gain as much treasure as possible in Smash Hit Plunder’s more traditional gameplay in Treasure Run, Scavenger Hunt and Free Run modes.
Smash Hit Plunder’s replayability originates from returning to levels to improve your score and earn more crowns, alongside two local competitive multiplayer modes and three co-operative multiplayer modes for 2 to 4 players via social screen multiplayer in multiple gameplay variations that will collectively have anywhere from a single player up to 4 players returning for many hours.
• Title: Smash Hit Plunder
• Developer: Triangular Pixels
• Publisher: Perp Games
• System: PlayStation VR
• Format: PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1-4 (Social Screen Competitive and Co-operative Multiplayer)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 2.53GB (Version 1.03)