‘Mario Kart VR’ puts you closer to Luigi’s death stare than ever before

Mario Kart could be virtual reality’s first killer title, even if it is only likely to be playable in a Japanese arcade for now. Set to debut in just a few days at the VR Zone in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, Mario Kart VR puts players closer to the kart racing action than ever before using an HTC Vive headset and specially designed racing rigs.

Although we still don’t know whether Nintendo will bring virtual reality to its Switch console, we do know it’s already working with companies to leverage its existing properties in some unique settings. One of those is Mario Kart VR, which is being developed by Bandai Namco for its specialized VR arcade in Tokyo.

When the arcade opens on July 14, visitors will have a chance to play one of 12 different games based on established properties like Dragon Ball and Evangelion, as well as more generic experiences like Fishing VR and Dinosaur Survival Run. Mario Kart VR, however, is sure to be a major attraction.

The first footage of the game shows players traversing classic tracks from a first-person perspective, dodging red shells and piranha plants alike. Various characters are available to play with, and against, and hand tracking lets players control exactly where they throw those bananas and how they swing their hammers.

When visiting the VR Zone however, players will need to be specific about what they want to play. With one admission ticket, they’ll be given four colored tickets, each redeemable for a single game in a particular bracket. If you play Mario Kart, for example, you’ll miss out on playing Fear of Heights: The Show and Armored Trooper Votoms Battling Dudes. The former can still be played as part of the Red band, but you’ll miss out on the Hospital Escape if you do that.

To give you an idea of what the pricing for VR experiences may look like, the “one day four ticket” is currently priced at 4,400 yen ($39) though there are other options. Tickets for certain individual experiences will cost 1,000 Yen ($9) though will only let you play one particular game and Mario Kart VR isn’t one of them.

The VR Zone itself does not have an age limit, but the VR experiences are only available for those aged 13 and over.

While Mario Kart VR and its fellow experiences are exclusive to the Tokyo VR Zone for now, other VR arcades are set to open around the world before long, with another debuting in London sometime later this summer.


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