Look, I am the first to admit I can’t play rhythm games, my physical structure does not generally move to music in any shape or form without a massive amount of encouragement or threats.
Yet, here I am, really enjoying the music and movement co-ordination with BoxVR.
When the PSVR finally landed I knew there were couple of killer apps I wanted, one was some form of boxing (see Creed Review also) and the other was something climbing related, which got off to a fair start in Carnival Games, but has yet to scale any heights. BoxVR has enhanced the Creed experience, making a more consistent offering in terms of sustained exercise. While it is essentially Beat saber for fists, it suits the PSVR so very well.
— Richard Armitt (@KoruCottage) May 21, 2019
The Front-end setting is clean and functional, what looks to be the entrance for a suave and sophisticated gym along with a clean interface screen up in front. The menu is pretty self explanatory, set your personal preferences, weight and sex etc. Also housing a stats box which you can drill into, along with some online leaderboards to check. All pretty standard stuff.
Launching into the exercise routines properly and you are greeted with a range of activities across a series of timed sessions. Low and slow being good to get your wings and a warm up for the sedentary, with the difficulty and effort required soon ramping up as you choose the later routines. The routines are accompanied by the smiling face of an alleged instructor that put it together and probably chose the music. So, from here on its time to pick a session and launch.
Playing FitBoxVR is comfortable, there is no locomotion, so no motion sickness. Everything takes place in one spot where you will need to occasionally swap feet, or duck and weave, but mostly hit targets as they come towards you. Simple is as simple does.
Here’s where the magic comes in. Once your are in the PSVR and have chosen stage, the routine is everything, the music starts to pump and coloured globes start streaming towards you. At this point nothing else matters, if you have the time to kill a thirty minute session will fly by and it’s not often you can stay in PSVR for up to an hour without coming up for air. After a few false starts I started to find my swings, understood my reach better and noted where I was going wrong. Failing to reach far enough and connect with the globes properly will reduce you score, a miss will reduce your multiplier and break your chain.
The chain having no relevance apart from being how well you tackle the routine and become a slightly obsessive number that you really want to beat. The feeling of immersion is top notch too, once you fin your stride and start really connecting with the targets, you quite easily forget that you are standing in your living room waving your arms about, you actually feel the connection as if you are there.
It’s fair to say I struggled with some of the moves early on and I realised that it was my posture being the issue, being a larger frame I was holding back and trying to hit everything too late. Looking at the contact point on the target also helped. There are times now, even though I am better, where my terrible sense of rhythm kicks in and I can’t get back on the horse, but a deep breath and a good hit can put you back in your stride.
Coming back to my opening, I don’t generally do music and movement, but here I find myself bouncing in readiness, tapping to the beat, punching to the beat and loving the crescendo when moves cascade in against a pumping beat. I even couldn’t help myself by shadow boxing alongside my eldest son when he was having a turn, that’s engagement.
The title has come with a few issues, which have been addressed with swift patches. the corruption and loss of saved data being the most critical, thankfully not a great loss at the time and a nod to the developers for taking it seriously. One problem that occurred a few times was a disconnect between the title and the PSVR which seemed to stem from the sequence they we both booted. Quitting to the dash and starting again fixed it though.
Overall, BoxVR isn’t going to replace an actual gym or a six mile run, but it does get you off the couch and it does help you to break a sweat. So much so, that I have a concerned eye on the height of Queensland summer when it comes through. I can’t say it has changed my life, but I will say this, there is a spring in my step that wasn’t there in this tired old body a couple of weeks ago and I am looking forward to my next session more than the Triple A game I’m supposed to be playing.
Think on that.