Cosmic Smash in VR or something

Cosmic Smash is set to 'return' to consoles in February 2023. I emphasise 'return' because Cosmic Smash is a game few people outside Japan ever really got to play; and the usual (predictable) swarm of attention is now in full swing. Sega knows what it is doing with this type of release. It can't have gone unnoticed that anything even remotely connected to the Dreamcast gets vast swathes of gushing real estate on pretty much every gaming or tech blog now; and this latest Cosmic Smash related news will no doubt have people foaming into their cornflakes. 

There is a whole new generation of gamers (spenders) out there who want to know more about these enigmatic Dreamcast games which are - in the main - really poorly documented outside of fan blogs and forums. Luckily, this fan blog is still going.

Back in 2015 we covered Cosmic Smash, and I also wrote about it in issue 179 of the physical magazine Retro Gamer. Ultimately though, what you need to know is that it is a take on Pong or Breakout, where you control a humanoid player with a racquet, smashing a ball against a wall and various blocks that form ahead of you. It also looks like Rez. A bit. Using the parameters of the court, you can fling your character into multiple impossible shapes, hitting the ball back and advancing though the stages via the Passageway as a passenger on the Cosmic Bus. I've used this piss-poor 'joke' before but I'll be damned if I'm not using it again: you wait for one Cosmic Bus, and then two turn up at once. Literally just after you've received the Call of Chuthlu and realise it's a wrong number. I refuse to be stopped.

Right then, Cosmic Smash is apparently coming back as a VR game, titled C-Smash VRS. As an exclusive for the PlayStation VR 2. Sony or Sega or someone tweeted a countdown timer a few weeks ago but we already knew what it was after glancing at it for about 3 milliseconds. And now there's been some sort of official announcement. If I'm honest, I don't really care. Cosmic Smash on the Dreamcast was/is alright, but only in a sort of 'Virtua Tennis against a wall' type way. I don't really know what else to say about it to be honest. It's certainly not a game worth all the hype it is currently (at the time of writing) getting.

I find Cosmic Smash to be a pretty boring experience personally. Once you get over the fact that you're controlling a transulcent person who appears to have no small intestine or anus (would have been way more interesting if he did - I'd love to know what he had for his tea), then you mainly spend your time trying to hit a ball back and forth against a wall and jumping round experimenting with ways you can hit a ball back and forth. People only play squash for a finite amount of time because it isn't that interesting. But this is purely my opinion, and I am wrong on many occasions.

That said: Cosmic Smash in VR could be very cool. The virtual reality tennis games I have had the pleasure of waving a paddle/shoe around in have been enjoyable. Leaping from couch to wall and then onto the ceiling while wearing a VR headset; and being generally athletic could be just the thing needed to give the VR scene the kick up the arse it needs. Oh, and C-Smash VRS looks to include a multiplayer option too (Cosmic Smash on Dreamcast is a single player affair). C-Smash VRS might be the very title VR needs to put a fire under it.

It's nice that Sega is finally looking to games in its back catalogue that aren't Sonic or Mega Drive titles; but can we be honest here? Yes lets. Sega needs to license/resurrect Sega GTDaytona USA, Fighting Vipers, Jet Set Radio, Spirit of Speed 1937, NiGHTS, Burning Rangers, Skies of ArcadiaVirtua Cop, Golden Axe...before looking to Cosmic Smash. Even the most diehard Dreamcast fans don't really consider Cosmic Smash a Dreamcast classic. Might as well revive Soul Fighter or Hoyle Casino.

Go and get hyped over at Polygon or Eurogamer or Reddit if you're that bothered. I'm not, because I can barely afford my electricity bill, let alone a PlayStation VR 2. That said, do feel free to check out our previous article on Cosmic Smash and the multiple hidden characters only revealed 16 years later by Jeremy Hobbs.

The C-Smash VRS website is here.


pcwzrd13 said...

I have yet to play the original but at least in theory, it sounds like a good fit for VR. They also said it's a "reimagining" so I'm guessing it's not just a straight-up conversation to VR like Rez Infinite. I guess we'll see though. They're releasing a free demo so I'll be trying it out. :-)

It's cool that they're making it multiplayer as well since the original was strictly single player.

Tom Charnock said...

Thanks PC - I feel that I might have been a bit negative or harsh on Cosmic Smash. Never a comment I thought I'd write. But yeah it's cool that it's back but ultimatley I'm just a blogger with no skin in the game so it's just my opinion.

pcwzrd13 said...

You're not harsh Tom, just passionate. Haha.

I'm anxiously awaiting the announcement of House of the Dead VR but I'll take any VR Dreamcast games Sega wants to throw at me. :-P

Animated AF said...

Personally I love Cosmic Smash, it's super simplistic but the presentation and gameplay have made it one of my Dreamcast rotation of games that gets cracked on for half an hour every so often just to soak in it's cool vibes. I never would have expected this of all things to get revived but VR definitely makes a lot of sense and by default this will probably sell 1000 times more copies that the Dreamcast version did lol. Part of me wishes there was also a non-VR multi-format release along side this but alas, I guess one day I may gather enough cash to splash out on a PS5 and PSVR2, mainly for Rez which is a top 5 all timer for me, but this is cool too.

Jet Brian Radio (@VirtuaSchlub) said...

Quite the spirited and spicy take, Tom! I share your indifference towards the original, though I guess I'm of a "sure, fine, why the hell not?" mind towards the PSVR2 reimagining.

I’ll admit the original Cosmic Smash never resonated with me but a flat screen rerelease probably wouldn't change that, either. Cosmic Smash was an unconventional game at its core, so might as well reimagine it unconventionally.

On some level, I doubt Cosmic Smash gets revived without VR and I'd be surprised if it was Sega's idea to revive it in any form. I imagine the passionate folks at RapidEyeMovers and Wolf & Wood took cues from the success of Rez/Superhot/Pistol Whip/etc. and scheduled a pitch meeting with Sega. Then I imagine they evangelized CS's potential on a new VR platform which would let them push the concept technically and creatively. Then, I imagine, Sega's IP lawyers asked them what Cosmic Smash was as they rummaged through their active licensing portfolio, eventually failing to find it because they misheard the title and kept searching for "Cosmo Smash" by mistake, finally resigning with a "sure, fine, why the hell not?" in an exasperated huff. It was pure Dreamcast energy on all levels (I imagine).

Anyway, as pcwzrd and Animated AF already said, Cosmic Smash really is a perfect fit for VR. And honestly, breaking down the control and perspective barriers to connect players more 1:1 with its cyber squash action will be Cosmic Smash's best shot at finally making me a fan of it.

Oliver Luddy said...

As a fan of Rez, Cosmic Smash was initially of interest to me, until I found out it was only single player. That made it feel a little redundant for me, seeing how squash isn't really much fun for extended periods without extra players.

Janino296 said...

Absolutely don't care about VR at all but would love to add the original to my DC collection one day...just another question of pricing I guess and on my current wishlist it is more around the places 20-30;)