We are closing in on the latest Japanese amusement trade show, known as JAEPO. With that event comes new game announcements and concepts. We have been covering some of the Out-Of-Home developments for Virtual Reality and while home based VR hasn’t caught fire yet, it looks like Japan is hoping that VR is the answer for their market.
Before we get to that, it is worth noting that Nolan Bushnell is also placing his bets on Amusement VR with the new Modal VR concept. I do wonder however – we’ve been seeing a lot of “VRcades” pop-up out there lately. So far I haven’t heard of a single one getting their hands on a more elaborate and thus more expensive VR solution that was made for commercial use. I don’t think that those owners are accustomed to the high cost of equipment like most FEC owners are.
Virtual Reality Japan – What To Expect From JAEPO
This is based on the latest news that we have heard; it could be updated here at any time.
The original Project iCan VR Zone was a a six month experiment by Namco where they tested out several VR amusements at a special facility in Japan. Some of the ideas quickly influenced other VR developments such as walking on planks above a cityscape or VR skiing. Now Namco will present their VR concepts to the wider Japanese market while expanding upon what they tested.
The VR titles that will be making an appearance at the show so far (relying on the online translator for some of the names):
- Gundam VR Based Assault
- Escape Ward Omega
- High-Altitude Horror Show (the one with the plank)
- Armored Trooper Votoms Battling Bastards (all-righty then; looks like a giant robot mano-a-mano game)
- Skyrodeo (skiing game)
- Argyle Shift (mech battle with an AI girl)
- Train My Star (train simulator)
As mentioned in the Newsbytes thread earlier today, they will also have some more traditional arcade titles, including a significant line-up of Raw Thrills product (waiting for more details on that). Certainly with everything Namco will already be bringing to the show, they will be a company to watch. And to think that a year ago people were panicking that Namco was closing down their arcade division because of a mistranslation in a story somewhere.
One company that really made headlines with some VR news today was Koei Tecmo. Tecmo of course is not exactly a strange to the arcade universe but they are also not a name that we come across on this side of the aisle very often. That news? Their new “VR Sense” pod:
Continuing the trend of appropriating console technology, the PlayStation VR in this case, for arcades, this has that and more to make it more of an arcade ‘experience’. That means that it uses special effects that we tend to call “4D/5D” in this industry – wind, seat movement, temperature differences (hot & cold), mist spray and in this case, even smell. They also mentioned a feature that would allow you to feel sensations like spiders crawling on your skin but did not detail yet how that would be achieved (perhaps via a directed ultrasonic speaker?)
The VR Sense will come with at least three titles but possibly more as KT is open to other manufacturers creating content for the units. What they are providing: Dynasty Warriors VR; GI Jockey Sense and Horror Sense. Other titles such as a skiing game and some sort of waterfall simulator were also hinted at. Action in the games will be controlled by the PSMove controller; the hardware powering the machine is a PS4 Pro.
I suppose this is one way to finally get a “musou” game in the arcade after Capcom axed War of the Grail a decade ago :/
Ok, what Capcom will be showing off isn’t VR but the lesser known MXR – i.e., Mixed Reality. We haven’t seen virtual batting cages much in the arcade but there are different systems out there to provide such a thing to more focused venues. Capcom is teaming up with Legend Baseball to bring their solution to Japan.
Other big names in the arcade business will be at JAEPO – Square Enix/Taito, Sega, Konami – but they have not announced anything that would fall into the virtual reality category yet. Which is fine by me since there are still problems that I see with running these systems in traditional arcades as opposed to those VR arcades which have attendants helping people out on each station. Taito will be showing off their download system NESiCAxLIVe 2 with some new games including King of Fighters XIV and they’ll have a new version of Groove Coaster; Capcom has that Attack on Titan game that was unveiled last year to a small degree; Sega has the new Initial D Zero, their popular Kancolle ship battle game, the latest versions of their music titles like Chunithm and MaiMai and they will debut their app-to-arcade port of Soul Reverse (I would be very surprised if Daytona Championship USA didn’t appear in some fashion); Konami as usual has a very strong showing of music titles and perhaps they’ll have something else that we haven’t heard of before. Then as mentioned, Raw Thrills will be making one of their biggest pushes in Japan with Jurassic Park 42″, The Walking Dead, MotoGP and Cruis’n Blast – World’s Largest Pac-Man if you want to count that too.
Overall, JAEPO 2017 is shaping up to be a strong event. We’ll cover it in as best detail as we can when it starts on Friday