With an eye on bringing lifelike quality to the world of anime and popular video games, Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. said Tuesday it will launch a flagship arcade featuring virtual reality gaming in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, next month.
The two-story flagship, to be called VR Zone Shinjuku, is scheduled to open July 14. It will boast 3,500 sq. meters of floor space and will feature more than 15 VR attractions in addition to a food court.
The Tokyo-based gaming and entertainment giant also said it plans to open VR Zone arcades overseas, with the first opening in London this summer.
“With the flagship VR Zone Shinjuku being the hub, we’d like to spread VR Zone facilities around the world,” Yoshiyasu Horiuchi, an executive at Bandai Namco, said during a news conference at the firm’s headquarters.
The company drew inspiration for opening the arcade chain from running a trial VR gaming facility in Tokyo’s Odaiba waterfront entertainment and shopping area last year.
The attractions at its Shinjuku arcade will add new twists to the usual arcade fare by introducing visitors to anime and game titles set in immersive 360-degree virtual reality worlds, Bandai Namco said.
For instance, there have been driving games based on Nintendo Co.’s popular “Mario Kart” game series at regular arcades in the past.
But unlike driving while watching the action through a monitor, players using 3-D headsets will feel like they are actually driving Mario’s go-kart in a fantasy world.
Moreover, because the players wear devices that give them a sense of touch, they can actually pick up virtual turtle shells or banana skins that appear on the track and throw them at other players — action that is popular with “Mario Kart” aficionados.
The Shinjuku arcade’s VR attractions will also include anime titles such as “Dragon Ball Z,” “Ghost in the Shell” and “Neon Genesis Evangelion.”
Visitors can make reservations online for advance tickets at ¥4,400, which will allow them to play four VR attractions. Each additional attraction will cost ¥1,200.
For those without reservations, the entrance fee will be ¥800, and each game will run ¥1,200.
Bandai Namco said it plans to run VR Zone Shinjuku until March 2019 and aims to attract 1 million visitors.
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