Let’s do something different: a look at a modern game!
Recently Oculus (now known as Meta) released Smash Drums on their marketplace, and as a drummer I absolutely had to give it a shot. There’s a few drum apps using VR right now, but Smash Drums is easily the deepest experience so far. It’s not based off of an actual kit, but instead looks eerily similar to Beat Saber, with the drums and cymbals floating towards you until they reach the exact point you need to strike it. However, it differs greatly from Beat Saber outside of its initial appearance, as the game is much more reliant on your timing (when you strike) and strength (the speed that you strike)
It’s an awesome tool to improve your timing, as scores are based on timing and how hard you hit the drum. Playing an e-kit for as long as I have, I’ve learned I’ve developed a bad habit of relying on that volume knob a bit too much, and this app is a great tool to fix that.
The game has 4 difficulty modes. I can ace Easy mode no problem, and Normal presents some challenge but I can make it through the songs. Hard mode? Nope, that’s some insanity there. Especially since with the way Oculus VR works, there’s no way to implement foot pedals in the game, so a lot of stuff that’s normally done on a bass drum is done on a floor tom instead, and my arms simply can’t move that fast and that accurate in a VR environment. And the less said about Extreme mode the better. If you were a speed pro at something like Guitar Hero or Rock Band, than Extreme mode is for you. As an almost 40 year old man, it’s way too much for me. If I can work my way up to Hard mode, I’ll be happy.
However as a game and a timing and strength tool, there’s nothing that comes close. Way better than using a metronome. The “air drums” thing takes some getting used to, but eventually your arms grow used to it and actually snap a bit when you feel you are on the head. That being said, this would benefit greatly with some stronger force feedback in the controller.
It has a unique soundtrack. There’s no major label music, but the bands that are here are all great and their music contributes positively to the mood and feel of the game. I ended up checking out some of the bands on Spotify just from the songs that were included with this game. That being said, I am really hoping Smash Drums sees some Beat Saber-esque levels of popularity and can acquire some major tunes in the future. They recently added 6 more songs for free, so we know that they are trying to offer more music and artists.
Overall, this game is a steal for twenty bucks, and one of the best you can get on the Quest right now. Anyone dabbling in VR should make it one of their first purchases, and it’s also a must have for any drummer that owns the headset. VR vets should also add it to their library if they enjoy Beat Saber but want something more precise.