Keep­ing an eye on the coin-op gam­ing scene


With its VR Zone busi­ness prov­ing a sur­pris­ing suc­cess – ex­pand­ing from the two-storey Shin­juku fa­cil­ity fea­tured in

E313 to Lon­don, Dubai and New York – Bandai Namco has a greater in­cen­tive than most to en­sure there’s a steady flow of new vir­tual-re­al­ity at­trac­tions to keep pay­ing pun­ters com­ing back. Yet for its lat­est cre­ation, the com­pany has cast aside the bulk and thick ca­bling of HTC Vive, which pow­ers the ma­jor­ity of ex­pe­ri­ences on of­fer at the Shin­juku VR Zone. In­stead, it’s Mi­crosoft’s mixed-re­al­ity HoloLens gog­gles that are the weapon of choice here for what is one of Namco’s sil­li­est – yet also, weirdly, prob­a­bly the most mar­ketable – for­ays into the al­tered-re­al­ity space to date.

It is, sim­ply put, Pac-Man in aug­mented re­al­ity. Up to three play­ers can si­mul­ta­ne­ously don Hololens glasses, which will over­lay into the real world an ap­pro­pri­ately scaled maze that’s dot­ted with pel­lets you need to col­lect. Ghosts ap­pear and will chase down play­ers – pre­sum­ably, mul­ti­player is a nec­es­sary con­ceit so com­rades can alert their pals to threats be­hind them – and can be dis­patched by eat­ing a power pill. It’s daft stuff, yes, and re­quires a cer­tain will­ing­ness to play along, since there’s ob­vi­ously noth­ing stop­ping you from walk­ing straight through an AR wall, cut­ting cor­ners to has­ten clear times or give a chas­ing ghost the slip. But it seems like an ab­so­lute banker re­gard­less, and has led Namco to dis­man­tle a cou­ple of ex­ist­ing at­trac­tions at its Nam­ja­town in­door theme park in Tokyo’s Ike­bukuro district to make room for it. A wider re­lease, both within Ja­pan and, for once, abroad, seems in­evitable.

Game Pac In Town Man­u­fac­turer Bandai Namco

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