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