UPDATE (3/17/20) – A new trailer has been added below.
Long before IAAPA 2019 rolled around, I’d been hearing rumors about Raw Thrills experimenting with some different VR concepts. I had not seen or heard anything more than vague details and rumors, but that changed at IAAPA 2019, when Raw Thrills had a banner and a video on a loop showing a quick tease of some gameplay.
With Amusement Expo taking place this week, the company is finally ready to unveil their first foray into Virtual Reality with King Kong of Skull Island. The information found here-in is gleaned from a marketing document that Betson & Raw Thrills produced to promote the game to distributors and operators; thanks to the anonymous tipster who sent it my way.
Let’s start with the first thing that people will see when they come across the game at an arcade – the cabinet. Where this is not the first “VR Ride” out there, there is a kind of style to these cabinets already, but so far each has been able to find ways to stand out. For Raw Thrills, they have a black & purple color scheme going on, lit by purple LEDs and they have two monitors in the back instead of one. The larger 55″ display up top is for showing teaser videos, while the smaller 43″ monitor works as a dynamic marquee/logo display. These displays do not show the game as it is being played, which they did as a way to entice people to what to experience the full thing for themselves. Here’s the cabinet, then more details:
The motion system for the seats is an air compressor/bladder based system, the same used in Jurassic Park Arcade Motion. This is done because it is lower cost and more reliable than the traditional electric motor systems used in the past, while producing the same effect. You’ll notice that they are using the same seat design found on many of their sit-down games, including Jurassic Park, Nerf, Cruis’n Blast, etc.
Originally I had guessed that the control scheme would feature mounted blasters, but I was wrong on that one. Instead, it uses a Kinect-style motion sensor, detecting each player’s hands, as was seen recently in TrioTech’s Storm VR Ride.
For the headsets, this uses a pair of HP Reverb HMDs. Providing 4K resolution per eye, it’s said that this helps eliminate the “screen door” effect that plagues earlier & cheaper VR HMDs, although I have not personally used the set to say one way or the other. The document mentions that these are not stock Reverb’s, with higher quality straps and wiring to withstand the far more punishing arcade environment. The unit itself also uses two HP PC’s, although the specs on those wasn’t revealed. I assume that whatever they’ve got running under the hood was designed to power 60fps speeds at the 4K3D resolution, plus the monitors.
This is designed like other VR Rides to be an unattended piece, although the document doesn’t mention anything like a face mask or disinfectant wipe dispenser. I assume something of that nature will be there, but we’ll see at Amusement Expo.
The Game Ride
Raw Thrills uploaded a direct footage trailer of King Kong this morning via the Betson YouTube channel. I believe that the sequences that both slow down or have a creature pop-up on the front of the car are when you’d be prompted to do a hand motion (probably to swat it away):
UPDATE #2: A different trailer with improved graphics and a better idea of the current build has replaced the old one:
Moving on from the hardware, the document describes King Kong of Skull Island as “a cinematic interactive VR experience.” It is licensed, and there are three chapters (each about 3 1/2 to 4 minutes in length), where “the player assumes the role of the vehicle driver as they make their way through Skull Island encountering creatures and danger along the way. The player can look all around them and experience Skull Island in a fully immersive VR world. Both players view the world from the driver perspective.” Note that the Amusement Expo version will only have one chapter available.
The interactive segments do play out differently that you get with TrioTech’s Storm though. While that involves hitting glowing orbs along your path for points, King Kong has a number of interactive scenes that trigger a slo-mo event (the typical arcade-style QuickTime Event where things slow down, giving you a moment to react to the situation). Users will have to react with their arms, although it doesn’t say exactly how – depending on what you’re supposed to do and how well you do it will determine success or failure. This also means that it is part ride (just passively watch the scenery go by), part game (interact with the QTE). How many QTEs there are is unknown, but it also might vary from chapter to chapter.
A release date hasn’t been included in the materials yet, but in discussing it with a Raw Thrills rep, it will definitely be out this year (certainly before IAAPA 2020 – barring any unforeseen circumstances that cause major delays). By all accounts I’ve heard, the price is extremely competitive against other VR rides on the market