As one of the most wholesome anime franchises, it's cool that Little Witch Academia is now in VR with a nifty new Broom Racing game.
I'm not wholly familiar with Little Witch Academia although I did play Chamber of Time a few years back. Its most striking feature for me is its fantastic cast of characters with all sorts of personalities on display and thankfully, VR Broom Racing is bursting with charming dialogue scenes that have a solid helping of humour thrown in for good measure. Watching the characters interact between races is a treat and I'm happy that there's a full English voice cast, too, which really brings out each character's personality.
So, what about the racing? Well, you can compare Little Witch Academia: VR Broom Racing with HAL Laboratory's Kirby Air Ride in that you automatically propel forward and it's your job to strategically steer in order to maximize your speed and efficiency. Considering you're flying, you must stay close to the track because if you veer too far off-course, you'll re-spawn and have to start-up your broom again by looking down at it. You steer by tilting the DualShock as well as looking around which is implemented very intuitively.
With that being said, holy hot darn is Little Witch Academia: VR Broom Racing fast! It actually made me quite dizzy after some of the more intense races. On the plus side, the sense of speed is phenomenal and you'll feel as if you're actually riding a broom through rings. Unfortunately, the high speeds don't lend themselves well to the more complex tracks as you can easily soar off-course, become disoriented, and take a while to reorient yourself. Plus, smacking into ceilings, walls, and obstacles can be extremely annoying.
As you play, you'll earn tickets and cash that you can redeem at a shop for additional brooms as well as gems that you can equip to your broom for extra boosts. Doing so is quite rewarding as you will notice a difference after trying different setups. However, it's disappointing that during races, you only ever get to deploy a couple of power-up types: one speeds you up while the other slows your opponents down. I wish there were magic spells with all sorts of effects but at least there's a generic shot that you can shoot forward.
The content within Little Witch Academia: VR Broom Racing consists of a single-player campaign and online multiplayer hub. The former has you take on 12 racing and ghost-capturing missions which task you with various challenges such as completing within a specified time, flying through a certain amount of rings, or shooting as many ghosts as possible. You can grind these missions to earn more currency and once you've completed all 12, you can enter a tournament and level-up your affinity with each character. Re-playing these missions adds some replay value but keep in mind; you can easily finish all dozen of them within one sitting so I wish there was a lot more content to master. The online multiplayer component might be worthwhile but I have yet to see anyone else in the lobby.
The core gameplay of Little Witch Academia: VR Broom Racing is promising enough that I'd love to see a sequel. As it is, it's a bit too thin on content and could definitely use more gameplay elements to help it compete with similar racers.
- + Racing is impressively fast and features some strategic elements
- + Great cast of delightful characters
- + Rewarding upgrades to purchase and equip
- - The more complex tracks can be extremely disorienting at high speeds
- - Could use more single-player content
- - Only has a couple of boring power-ups