A groundbreaking new version of Mario Kart Arcade GP that incorporates a full-sized simulator and virtual reality (VR) technology lets gamers drive as Mario, Peach, Bowser, or whichever other Nintendo character they prefer. Well, at least those who live in or visit Japan can do so.
The basic game, Mario Kart Arcade GP, has been out for more than a decade, but this new iteration will bring it up to date and into the VR future of gaming. Bandai Namco Entertainment is opening a new facility called VR Zone in Shinjuku, Tokyo on July 14 that will feature numerous virtual reality games, including Mario Kart. The virtual reality space will be the first of its kind, as all of the necessary equipment and tech support is provided.
The equipment is based around HTC Vive hardware. The first-person Mario Kart game not only uses kart-like arcade simulator seats with pedals and wheels, but also VR head gear, headphones, and wearable sensors. Unlike other Vive systems that use wands for hand-controlled motions, Mario Kart Arcade GP VR uses watch-like controllers that strap to your wrist. Giving the player the ability to physically throw items within the digital world really elevates this to a next-generation gaming experience.
Because this is not an official Nintendo release, there are few details about the actual game–it probably hasn’t changed much from the familiar Mario Kart Arcade, aside from adding the VR experience to put you right in the game space rather than watching it on a screen. Other titles at the almost 38,000-square-foot playland include Evangelion, Dragon Ball, Ghost in the Shell, and Gundam.
This is the first time in over two decades that a Nintendo game has incorporated virtual reality, but it’s not easily accessible. The experience is only available at this one specific location, and considering it’s based on an old game, it’s hard to imagine it’ll be something that becomes a global mainstream experience.
However, if it does well, it’s not hard to imagine something similar eventually coming to the United States. Using Nintendo’s new Switch gaming system, with its two removable controllers, as a virtual reality tool seems like an opportunity, but it’s not likely. So, for now, check out the footage below and go back to summoning lightning on your N64.