Some games only really work in VR. There are just some concepts out there that aren’t at all interesting outside of a VR experience. For instance, Samurai Punk did a great comedy mind-trip called The American Dream that wouldn’t have been as much of a trip if it had just been a normal game. Despite any drawbacks the game has, clearly, VR helps it. VR doesn’t always help though, as is the case with Party Pumper, a thoroughly pedestrian ‘rhythm’ game that will keep you entertained for about 20 seconds, if you’re lucky.
Party Pumper is the second game from Fibrium Limited, a VR-game company that came out with the game originally on PC only 3 months after their last VR game. You might start to get the impression that the game is rushed. In fairness, that seems pretty likely. After all, the game is still in early access despite having been ported to the PSVR, which is where I played it.
The Point of Party Pumper
The point of Party Pumper, other than acting as a fun repellent, is to throw an amazing party. You play as a DJ at either a gig or at a pool party. In one of the two levels, you must play generic EDM samples until you run out of time or until you’ve thrown an insane party. To do this, you need to drop samples onto the void-like surface of your magic DJ booth at the right time. You can also do things like twist samples and push slides to add different sounds and effects.
As it’s a rhythm game, everything you do in Party Pumper has to fit the game’s beat. You have to drop samples onto the mat at the right time, or they break. You have to apply modifiers are the right moment, or you’ll bore the party goers, and you even have to dance in-time with the flying robot who narrates the game to maximize your points. All-in-all, the gameplay is exactly what it sounds like; dropping a bunch of shapes onto a blank surface at the right time is 99% of the game.
There Are Some Extras
There are the occasional extra bits as well though. As you’re playing the weirdest DJ set in the universe, occasionally a ‘party pooper’ will pop up. There are characters in the levels who are doing their best to be annoying or generally ruin things for everyone else. You have to stop them, usually by picking them up and lobbing them or hitting them with something. This is more of an annoyance than a feature. While it’s totally easy in the gig level, at the pool party I haven’t once been able to stop that git from bellyflopping into the pool and soaking everything.
Your little robot companion also occasionally just gives you stuff for no reason that you can do. There’s a t-shirt cannon, a drink, and various novelty items you’d expect to find at a rave, such as glowsticks. I assume these are, at best, achievement fodder. They don’t seem to really do much in the context of the game, more like distractions from the fact that you’re bored already.
There Are Two Major Flaws
There are two big drawbacks that stop Party Pumper from basically being any fun at all. First is the music. All of the ‘tracks’ that you play are blisteringly generic. None of the officially licensed tracks that you might have expected. Not even some hidden gems from undiscovered indie artists from SoundCloud. It’s the same 2 songs made up of samples someone knocked together on FL Studio in 20 seconds.
What makes the issue even worse is that there are only two levels in the entire game, as far as I can tell. No matter how much you play it, you won’t unlock anything other than 2 levels with various difficulty settings. Once you’ve played both of the levels once each, you’re basically done with the game’s content. Why would you want to play again? The act of dropping random objects onto a table isn’t all that thrilling, and neither are the levels or the generic, dull EDM being pumped through the PSVR headset.
The Graphics in Party Pumper
Visually, it’s not all that bad. Party Pumper has a very ‘neon’ aesthetic as you might expect of a game that is about DJing. The aesthetic suits, but it just seems so empty and devoid of anything that might make you want to play it twice that it’s hard to praise it.
I think a big part of the issue is that the only info you get about the samples you’re playing is what ‘type’ they are. So, if it’s one shape, it’s a bass sample, if it’s another, it’s a synth sample, etc. If you’ve ever produced electronic music before, you’ll know just how broad those descriptors sound. Bass can be done in plenty of styles, and you have no idea what you’re dropping onto the song until you’ve already done it. Basically, no matter how good you are at the game, you’re basically left at the mercy of the random samples you’re given by the computer anyway.
My Last Word on Party Pumper
It’s not like you could produce a song using this thing. Every level ends up blending into the same thing over and over again because the tracks all sound the same. I’m too busy focusing on scoring and trying to stop that guy from bombing into the pool to notice the music. In a music game, that’s sort of a problem, isn’t it? Either way, Party Pumper probably isn’t worth your time, unless you have a crippling addiction to spending money on pointless VR titles.
Platform: PC, PS4
Release Date: 25th June 2020
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Party Pumper was provided by the publisher.