Everyone Deserves a Chance to Fly in Little Witch Academia VR Broom Racing

20 Jul

Little Witch Academia -VR Broom Racing-

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Available on Steam (for PC), PSVR and Oculus.

Little Witch Academia is a long running franchise that’s no doubt inspired by Harry Potter. The manga and animated series debuted in 2013, and the concept behind it is in how amazing the world of magic is. In the muggle world, it’s all but forgotten. However, in the wizarding world, many problems exist and the heroines have to deal with it. The video game that’s spawned is limited to Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time (2017) and there has been nothing else until UNIVRS created the multi-platform Little Witch Academia: VR Broom Racing. This developer staggered the game’s release on various platforms since late 2020, and the latest is on the Playstation VR.

Depending on the system, the controls are either intuitive or rather frustrating to figure out. I looked at the PlayStation VR version and hoped the Move controller is the interface. Sadly, the regular PS controller is used instead. Holding this device is counterintuitive to what the title of the game is about. Technically, players should use their body to position where the motion of the flying boom is going (via the Move controller) instead of angling the PS controller’s light for the camera to track. I really made extreme shifts with the device and headset; even then, I wasn’t always able to stay on the racetrack.

The learning curve isn’t too bad, but can feel disorienting because flying on a broom doesn’t feel as natural as it should be. This game is about racing on a stick. You’d think the company would do some recoding to take advantage of the Move controller, but they haven’t. I am curious in how the Oculus version scales, as players are operating a device allows for believing you are grasping a stick.

Like other racing games existing in a 3D type world, it’s possible to miss the targets (i.e. power-ups) when you’re not on the same plane they are in. Sadly, unlike those games of Quidditch where players can extend their hand to grab a ball that’s flying off the side of you, this game doesn’t allow for a similar experience.

It’d be nice if I could fly close enough and reach out to touch those items to make me fly faster or score extra points instead of having to “crash” into them. The avatar is big enough to make contact possible even if you’re off by a smidge. However, the gameplay is challenging for those not used to flying in a limited three-dimensional space. You can’t float around and fully examine the environment like you can in Iron Man VR. The game will eventually nag players to get back to the race!

The story mode is nearly nonexistent. This game is more about meeting the cast, accepting their racing challenges, gathering coins in those early matches and buying charms to improve your broom so you can win those tougher races. 

The multiplayer mode is okay. It shows off the potential for a company to create a true VR Quidditch game. All players can do is to bounce a ball around and engage in some other team races. Players can’t attack one another with big spells, which deflates the idea.

I like to see new racing tracks added to this game. There’s only three in this game, and redoing the same ones–Luna Nova, Giant Tree and Mushroom Kingdom–over again does get stale pretty fast. Hopefully the code is constructed to allow for expansion packs, which it desperately needs.

3 Broomsticks out of 5

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