Out now for Playstation VR and PC-based headsets through Steam, Ski Jumping Pro VR delivers exactly what you’d think by looking at that title. We played the Playstation VR version of this Yippee-developed game, published by Kalypso.
One thing that VR does extremely well is in its ability to deliver a sense of scale to players. Early titles like Robinson: The Journey did this to great effect in putting us right next to giant dinosaurs, and now Ski Jumping Pro VR lets us do what few people in real life can (or dare to) do. Sitting at the top of a ramp, you’re to push off, plummet yourself down the ramp, launch yourself from the end of it and hopefully land successfully after a few seconds of being suspended in mid-air.
The game essentially recreates this experience by breaking up your jump in phases – and they’re all scored individually. First, you’ll push off – then you need to keep your balance while racing down the ramp. After that, you need to time your takeoff by lifting your Move controllers upwards at exactly the right time. While in the air you spread your controllers apart in a V-shape to mimic the position of your skis, only to point your controllers downward again in time for a successful landing.
This all happens in a matter of seconds, but it’s the process for every jump you’ll do in the game. An event is split into two jumps where only the best 30 jumpers qualify for a second jump (and a chance to win the event), with each jump scored on both distance and quality. The problem with Ski Jumping Pro VR, however, is that it’s extremely difficult to pull off a perfect jump. I scored a 91% average score after a few attempts, but not even that was enough to qualify for a second jump – let alone compete for the win.
This can be a little disheartening to say the least, because when your push-off is less than 100% you already feel like it’s a lost jump. The game succeeds in showcasing how difficult the sport must be in real life, but it’s a less thrilling VR experience because of it. What also doesn’t help is that the controls don’t feel as immersive, but that’s mostly a VR hardware limitation. When you start your jump you’re controlling your hands (though they’re not visible when they should have been), but when you take off you suddenly switch to controlling your feet – which feels odd.
There’s still something to be said for the sensation of standing at the top of one of these ramps and looking down into a stadium you’re about to fly into though, especially if you grew up watching the major events that take place every year surrounding the Four Hills Tournament, part of which is a bit of a new year’s day tradition for many. Many of these famous ramps have been recreated for the game, and standing at the top rather than watching it on TV is a rare thrill.
That thrill wears off because of the high difficulty level and repetitive gameplay though, which is why I would’ve loved some kind of accessible arcade mode for the game. Even though that would have simplified the gameplay even more, it would have delivered an experience of ski jumping in VR that I would gladly show off to friends. Currently, I think they’d just be left with a sense of “what am I doing (wrong) here?”