On a slightly gloomy day in the midst of the rainy season in Tokyo, the INNOVATIV team made their way through the bustling crowds of Shibuya and into the heart of the fashionable and distinctive district of Japan. We were on a mission – to seek out the much hyped VR Park Tokyo and try it out for ourselves first-hand! No sooner had we arrived, we were standing in front of the ADORES game arcade and being greeted by the glowing red VR Park Tokyo sign. Yukie, our manager, took a deep breath and her eyes seemed to sparkle with excitement. We were finally here!
As soon as we reached the top floor, we noticed the growing crowd of chattering young people lining up right in front of the reception desk. “Lucky we’re VIP for today!” chirped Yukie, making her way past the horde and to the front desk. We were greeted by a beaming Mr. Arai, the project planning and development assistant manager for ADORES, who quickly ushered us in, handed over our press passes, and commenced our tour of the venue.
“The concept for the park was established in early 2016,” he began, “and the development of this floor of the arcade started in summer that year.” The park opened in December 2016, and brought with it a considerable amount of fanfare – it was one of the first VR theme parks to open in Japan. “We have around nine attractions right now” he stated proudly. “Every three or so months we add something new based on the feedback from our customers and what they want to try.” As we walked around, we noticed a number of signs blazoned with ‘version up’ – “we’re also constantly improving our attractions to make them as entertaining as they can be” he added.
This attraction, the biggest and most popular at the park, has you climbing aboard a magic carpet platform that moves and shakes throughout the experience. It’s designed to be two-player, and both players wield a magic staff that is used to fend of incoming enemies and finally go head-to-head with a massive dragon boss. There’s also a fan and water spray system built-in, which help to really immerse you in the experience.
DIVE HARD VR
If you’re into shooters, then this one’s your ticket to a good time. After moving up an elevator to the top of a towering sky-scraper, your task is to shoot down alien robots that come at you from all sides. After defeating them, the experience ends with you physically moving across a narrow walkway to reach your rescue helicopter. Word of warning, this ending is definitely not good for those scared of heights!
OBAKEREA VR Creeping Terror
This is one for all horror fans! After being strapped into your “gimmick chair,” you’re whisked into a scary storyline of being kidnapped by a pair of crazed doctors intent on injecting you with a mysterious serum. The “gimmick” part of your seat comes into play often throughout the scenes, with it vibrating, dropping, and shooting air unexpectedly at different parts to give you some healthy doses of fear.
CIRCLE of SAVIORS
This attraction caters to lovers of RPGs in the vein of ‘Final Fantasy’ or ‘Dragon Quest.’ Here you’re equipped with two swords, that you’ll be needing to skillfully use in order to stop the onslaught of creatures heading towards you. The green screen background allows for those around you to join in on the fun, and the park staff join in to encourage you. For an extra ¥200 you can also rent a costume – such as a flowing red cape or some body armor – to really put you into another magical dimension!
Cooperate! GHOST ATTACKERS VR
Into ‘Ghost Busters’? This one is for you! This attraction is the result of a collaboration with gaming conglomerate GREE, and has you working as a pair to eliminate ghosts. The player in control of the gun can’t see the ghosts around them, so the other needs to use the touch panel to shine a light around the area and allow the gun-toting player to shoot. As the levels go up, the harder it gets and, as the game’s name suggests, the more you’ll have to cooperate in order to blast away spooks.
Compete! HACHAMECHA STADIUM VR
Baseball fans will have a ball (see what we did there?) with this one. Like ‘Ghost Attacks,’ this is a GREE collaboration that requires two players. One player – the one using the headset – plays as the batter, while the other plays as the pitcher using the touch panel. The type of ball and bat can be changed each round, and those waiting in line to play can join in by using megaphone clappers to cheer on the players.
VR for car lovers! Here you’re plopped into the driver’s seat and in control of your very own race car. The entire simulation – from the software to the seat, accelerator, and steering wheel – was designed alongside a professional racecar driver. From the surface of the roads and steering sensitivity down to the minute details in acceleration and braking, everything has been designed to be as close to real-life as possible and provide a realistic racing experience.
Jungle Bungee VR
Probably one of the most immersive attractions at the park, here you’re strapped into a harness that is hanging from the ceiling and moved over a hole in the floor covered with a net. The VR headset puts you in the middle of a massive jungle setting, and when you drop within the alternate reality your harness drops too! The attraction provides some of the most amusing reactions from users, so there’s also a platform where others can take photos of the jumpers.
Special Attractions – Isudon VR
In addition to the permanent attractions, the park also offer special time-limited attractions. We were lucky to be in time to check out ‘Isudon VR’ (literally meaning “chair” and the Japanese onomatopoeia for when someone quickly puts their hand on a wall or something close to you), which was designed for female users. INNOVATIV actually reviewed the smartphone version of the game earlier this year, but this version is longer and offers an even better experience for lovelorn ladies looking to get up close and personal with a manga hunk!
The park has already proven to be a big hit, with around 300 curious customers visiting a day during the week and 400+ on weekends. “It’s a mix of Japanese and foreigners” Mr. Arai stated, gesturing towards the group waiting in the reception area. “The ratio of males and females is about the same, and most are in their 20s and 30s.” Surprisingly 95% of those surveyed when leaving the park answered that this had been their very first time trying VR, and not so surprisingly all had been impressed and wanted to try it again. “We often have TV shows come and record segments here, too” he added with a smile.
When questioned on the future of the park, Mr. Arai seemed hopeful. “We’ve already had a number of requests from abroad to open up our park in different countries”, he stated, “and it’s something we’re thinking about. We’re also considering another two or three more parks in Japan in the near future.” As our tour was winding to a close, Yukie piped up with an interesting question – “what would you say to those who’ve never tried VR and are skeptical of it?” Mr. Arai looked pensive for a moment, and replied with some wise words. “The experience of VR is really something you can’t explain in words properly. You just need to try it! This is the only way you can experience the magic of being in a virtual world for yourself.”
VR PARK TOKYO
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 23:25, Mon – Sun
Admission: ¥3,300 (roughly $29 USD) per visitor weekdays / ¥3,500 (roughly $31 USD) per visitor weekends
ADORES SHIBUYA 4F, KN Shibuya 1 Building
13-11 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku