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Nintendo Enters VR With ‘Mario Kart GP VR’

A new VR arcade in Tokyo is bringing Mario Kart & 14 other experiences to lucky residents.

Next month we’ll see the opening of Bandai Namco’s flagship virtual reality arcade in Japan, VR Zone Shinjuku. The 40,000 square foot facility will launch with 15 different immersive experiences each featuring unique set-ups from hand-trackers to custom cockpit rigs. However the most exciting of the VR experiences being offered has to be Mario Kart GP VR.

An official VR remake of the 2005 arcade classic, Mario Kart GP, the experience has players sit in a metal rig similar to a go-kart wearing not only an HTC Vive headset, but two Vive trackers strapped to each wrist. Once ingame you’ll race against classic Nintendo characters in first-person, steering your kart with a physical wheel attached to the metal rig. Using the trackers strapped to their wrists, players can make throwing gestures to unleash red and blue shells against their friends. Or foes…

While this is an official release, the VR remake was not in fact developed directly by Nintendo. Regardless, the gameplay footage looks impressive and the custom gestures for throwing items definitely adds an extra layer of depth.

Other virtual reality experiences available at the facility will include content based on Ghost in the Shell, Evangelion and Dragon Ball Z just to name a few. Based on the video provided it appears as though hand trackers will be used with the Dragon Ball game as well, allowing users to unleash the ‘Kamehameha’ blast by gesturing the famous hand movements. The Evangelion adventure also looks pretty exciting with its use of metal rigs and classic joysticks to realistically simulate the cockpit of a mech.

Unfortunately those interested in nailing Bowser with a shell in VR will have a bit of a trek ahead of them as the experience is currently only available at the upcoming Shinjuku center. However in an interview with The Japan Times an executive at Bandai Namco made it clear that their intentions are “to spread VR Zone facilities around the world.”

With rumors swirling regarding VR for the Nintendo Switch, hopefully this is just the beginning of Nintendo’s commitment to the technology. Afterall, many of their IP’s would translate beautifully to virtual reality.

For more information you can head to the official VR Zone Shinjuku website. Be sure to have a translator ready though.

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