It can seem odd when a game gets a sequel less than a year after the original launched but it isn’t unheard of – it tends to be a major update rather than a ‘true’ sequel. Think of After Burner II or Galaxy Force 2.
This looks to be the case with the rhythm VR game, Rhythmatic. Originally debuting at IAAPA 2021 (November of last year), that game was on display along with a few other VR offerings from VRsenal, as seen here:
Now with Bowl Expo 2022 upon us, VRsenal has announced Rhythmatic 2, which addresses the issues of “cost and reliability” with a new cabinet that they are calling the Monolith (a 2001: A Space Odyssey reference, perhaps?). This new cabinet is 60% smaller than the V2 cabinet seen above, which also helps bring the price down to “under $25k.” That’s also a big drop in price from the OG model, which I am told sells for around $54k. Here’s the new cabinet:
This is certainly the most artistic design that VRsenal has produced so far – their other cabinets have lacked specific themes since they can house different games and while they look sleek, they just have been a solid color without a marquee or other markings. Originally they did offer Beat Saber, which Rhythmatic is obviously competing with, but Meta pulled the license for commercial arcade use some time back, which left interested locations high and dry and resulted in the development of this game.
The new cabinet also gets rid of the overhead gantry with the retracting headset, instead placing the headset at the front of the cabinet. The press release gets into detail on this, mentioning how the HDMI cables are generally a point of failure with VR and that while the retraction system did help prevent that to a degree, it added a lot of cost to the overall unit. To resolve both, they have developed their own USB video cables which they claim are much more reliable than what you find at the store and they’re backing it up with a 2-year warranty. The only thing that makes me raise an eyebrow here is that the headset and controls hanging on the front of the cabinet means that these things are going to be dropped on the floor a lot. Any operator who owns a light-gun game with free guns knows how fun that can be at times so hopefully they’ve figured out how to super-reinforce the headset from ground shock damage.
For the software side, they have added new environments, new music and a new “slice & punch combo mechanic” to the game. Anyone attending Bowl Expo ’22 tomorrow will get a chance to check it out at the Moss Distributing booth.
That all said, at a lower price and offering something that gamers have found rather compelling to do in VR – rhythm gaming – this could see a lot of strong interest from the industry. What do you think about it?
Here’s the press release:
VRsenal to Launch The Monolith at Bowl Expo with Rhythmatic 2
Addresses the two biggest operator concerns with VR: Cost and Reliability
Las Vegas, NV – Jun 27, 2022
VRsenal, the company that created the first fully-automated VR arcade cabinet, will unveil their biggest innovation to date at Bowl Expo, Jun 28, 2022
With their new Monolith VR cabinet VRsenal has totally reimagined virtual reality for the arcade. The Monolith reduces the footprint for an unattended single player VR game to just 7.5 square feet, almost 60% smaller than the original. And with an introductory price under $25k the Monolith is the most affordable unattended VR solution on the market. Lower cost in a smaller space result in a faster ROI and makes VR more accessible to more locations.
But the biggest innovation is hidden inside the rugged nylon cable sheathing connecting the headset to the cabinet. With the Monolith, VRsenal, has eliminated the fragile HDMI cable, which has been the bane of every VR operator. Every HDMI cable has 19 wires in it, each one barely thicker than a human hair. Only one wire needs to break for a headset to become inoperable.
The HTC Vive Pro requires a custom 3-in-1 cable that includes HDMI for video, power via USB, and audio. These cables are the most common point of failure on any VR arcade game. Operators have been frustrated as these cables sometimes need to be replaced monthly. When you can find them, (they’ve been mostly out-of-stock mostly for the last year), they can cost over $100.
“The fragility of the HDMI cable is what led us to invent the headset retraction system, said Ben Davenport, founder and CEO of VRsenal. “Keeping the cable from twisting, kinking, or getting pulled increased the life of the cables beyond any other arcade platform. But the retraction system came with its own limitations. It’s expensive, has quite a few moving parts, and requires maintenance. The ultimate solution is a headset cable so robust it eliminates the need for a retraction system entirely. And that is exactly the solution that VRsenal has incorporated into the Monolith.”
VRsenal has been manufacturing its own ultra-robust USB cables for power delivery to its controllers since 2018. With more than 4-years of experience logged on these cables across over 500 installed units, it is evident that VRsenal’s USB controller cables function flawlessly for years before needing replacement. VRsenal incorporates the exact same technology into the headset cable for the Monolith VR cabinet. ”We are so confident in the rock-solid performance and longevity of this new cable that every Monolith headset cable comes with a 2-year factory warranty,” added Davenport.
Hardening the headset cable enabled the elimination of the retraction system, and the reimagining of cabinet design. This allowed VRsenal to eliminate all moving parts from the entire system while still offering fully automated, unattended VR experience. These innovations reduce the cost, size, weight, and support requirements of virtual reality so it’s a fit for almost any venue.
Bob Cooney, location-based VR expert and advisor to VRsenal, commented, “Ben and the team at VRsenal continue to evolve what an unattended VR product looks like and how it functions. They’re not afraid of throw out conventions, even ones they invented, to improve the experience for operators. The Monolith is not just more affordable, and more eye-catching, but it’s light and easy to move in an arcade. And at a time when techs are overwhelmed and overworked, making VR more reliable might be VRsenal’s biggest innovation to date.”
The launch title for the new Monolith is a brand-new sequel to VRsenal’s top earning game. Rhythmatic 2 features new surreal environments that lure in players while the new Slice and Punch combo game mechanic adds new ways to build streaks and climb the leaderboard. Developed by Blackwall games, it includes 12 launch tracks, including 6 brand new songs.
The combination of Rhythmatic 2 and The Monolith offer arcades one of the highest earning VR games ever in the most affordable, compact and reliable cabinet to date. Check out The Monolith and Rhythmatic 2 at the Moss Distributing booth #119 at Bowl Expo.
VRsenal has manufactured and deployed over 500 attendant-free virtual reality systems in more than 10 countries around the world. Founded in 2016 and proudly manufacturing in the USA, VRsenal specializes in making it easy for entertainment operators to bring virtual reality experiences to their guests. VRsenal’s proprietary technology enables unattended virtual reality games to be installed anywhere people go to be entertained.
About Blackwall Labs
Blackwall Labs is an independent London-based studio focused on bringing unique, high-quality games and experiences to the VR market.