Review: Sports Bar VR (PSVR)



  • PlayStation 4

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV


  • PlayStation VR Required
  • PlayStation Move Required (2)
Title: Sports Bar VR
Format: PSN (859.3 MB)
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Cherry Pop Games
Developer: Cherry Pop Games / Perilous Orbit
Original MSRP: $19.99 (US), £14.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: eC
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

In Sports Bar VR you can chill out with up to six friends or random people, play games of pool, darts, air hockey, and more. Let’s find out if the first PlayStation VR game from Cherry Pop Games is worth your time and money.

You begin in a room with a pool table and some furniture. The initial setup has three floating screens to tell you about the controls and let you adjust your height and dominant hand. Using several floating question marks, you learn how to move around and activate your darts and cue as well as fine-tuning shots using the Move Triggers and buttons.

It only takes a few minutes for the movement and cue control to become second nature. Aiming and fine-tuning are spot on and the ability to move your head to line up shots is just as you would in reality. The only thing I cannot do is let go of the cue with one hand and chalk it, but this is a virtual world where that is unnecessary.

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A big focus of this game is hanging out with friends chatting and playing a few bar games, maybe even messing around too. What of the single player aspect? Well, it’s very easy to start a game with the A.I. where you can pick the level and type of game you play.

After a few difficulty levels you will see a notable improvement in the computer controlled player’s abilities. They will perform jump shots and often clear the table, only fluffing it near or on the penultimate ball, even if it looks like an easy shot. Some more balance would be nice. Not that it becomes impossible playing against the artificial intelligence no matter the mode.

… Throwing darts is easy and feels authentic …
Upon winning, you are awarded with a prize. A present drops down onto the table for you to lift the lid and empty the contents. However, you cannot seem to grab any after the first which is awarded for going through the tutorial. As soon as you try to move or press any button, it disappears. You still get the table design or new cue, but you have to scroll through a list until you realise what one is unlocked.

I spent a short while admiring my first award and wondered if it would appear in the main play hall where all the games reside. Sadly, it’s nowhere to be seen. I did stumble across some large foam hands that you can pick up and put on the ends of the virtual Move controllers.

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You can also pick up and throw many other things like chairs, empty ice buckets, a jukebox, and bottles. Yes, you read that correctly, a jukebox. There are a few people stood behind the bar and chatting in small groups who seem oblivious to every move you make, every bottle you break.

Throwing darts is easy and feels authentic. I have never been very good at the real sport but I can actually hit some things in this, even if some of those happen to be the patrons loitering about. I have yet to play a proper game of it but I enjoy throwing the darts at the A.I. when they annoy me.

Air hockey is another game that I have never excelled at, only because any table I play on lacks the full cushion of air from years of neglect. Thankfully, that’s never an issue in this game and so I spent a good amount of time sliding my puck about and I managed to save a fair few shots.

Skee Ball, or Skeer-ball as Cherry Pop Games call it, is a fun distraction for the lone gamer. The physics work well with only the occasional ball going astray. Each pub game is a faithful representation of its real-life counterpart, aside from the beer stains and worn felt.

… the quality drops and some things look fuzzy …
There’s an initial wow factor of being immersed in a realistic looking bar complete with people milling about, plenty of seating, poorly stocked fridges, and working beer taps. Well they work, but no liquid comes out, probably due to the lazy staff that ignore everyone. All of this is purely aesthetic, and while you can pop behind the bar and grab a bottle out of the fridge, you cannot do much else.

The detail in the pub games is excellent but everything else is a little low on the polygon count. This is not an issue when you stick to playing the games or even move from one thing to another but when you get up close to things, thanks to the freedom of movement in VR, you will notice the quality drops and some things look fuzzy.


Now, don’t get me wrong, Sports Bar VR is a great looking game, with decent ambience. I could quite happily chill out with some friends, shooting some pool and throwing the odd chair or two when I lose a game.

What really impresses me are the menus and way you interact with them. With the press of a button, a little mini-menu appears floating above one of the virtual Move controllers, while the other has a laser beam emanating from the ball on top. To select a menu option you highlight it with the beam and press the Move button.

Other larger menus appear floating a few yards in front of your display and you use the laser beam to select whatever choices you want. I also like the notifications that appear from the edge of the table alerting you of the other player’s turn or a foul shot, and each of your pool balls have a small arrow above to signify what you can aim for.

Being able to bend down to line-up a shot or effortlessly glance around the table just by looking is what makes VR in a game like this so special. In the past, I would have to rely on dotted guidelines and even, when I was a young boy, placing rulers on the screen to properly line up a shot, which never really worked anyway as the old CRT screens were curved.

… listen to your own music or chat with friends …
With sounds plucked right from a bar setting, complete with people chattering and glasses clinking, you really get the feeling of being in a bar. Thanks to the excellent audio quality, I was able to eavesdrop on a conversation about some woman who had a personal vendetta with the regulars in the bar and the mention of Tuesday night.

One of the bar staff sings a little tune and the till prints off a receipt. I hear a lot when I stand there waiting for the skilled A.I. to pot every ball. You can however, turn the ambient sounds off if you just want to listen to your own music or chat with friends.

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It’s a quick and easy menu system for setting up an online game of six friends or random people who seamlessly appear in your bar area. You can quickly mute your microphone and kick people from the game using the pop-up menu I wrote about earlier.

If you want to have a nice quiet uninterrupted game of pool, you can shield the table. I found this out just after a chair and foam hand were flung onto the table sending the balls flying. This caused everyone to erupt in laughter and the fronts of their VR headset avatars to change showing they were making sounds.

… a superb social game at a great price …
With only a few unlockable hats to help distinguish one another, it can be confusing knowing who each avatar is. Their online name is visible below the floating headset but it’s almost impossible to see from a long distance.

Playing the games with everyone is easy to do and a lot of fun, even if it usually results in playful cheating and laughter. It would be nice to have more games that everyone could take part in but all that is here works well and it becomes a nice place to meet up with online friends, even if it is just to chat.

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Sports Bar VR is a superb social game at a great price for anyone who wants to chill out with friends or random people and have a few games of pool, darts, and more. It would be nice to have more distinction between the floating VR headset avatars and maybe an arcade or fruit machine, but that’s just me wanting more of a good thing. At least it shouldn’t be a long wait for the update with shuffleboard, chess, and checkers.

A great immersive game of pool awaits those who want to experience a well thought-out control scheme that allows for natural movement and an almost unrivalled precision. Small adjustments in location and turning do look like you are performing a strange dance routine to any onlookers, but it works well in the game and that’s all that matters.

It brings back memories of the social aspect of PlayStation Home, just a much better version of what was possible back then on the PlayStation 3. Thanks to the immersive capabilities of PS VR and the Move controllers, this game is a great place to meet up with friends no matter where they are in the world. Like a delicious slice of Home.


* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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