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Experiencing Anime in Virtual Reality at Mazaria in Tokyo

mazaria

Mazaria is a new virtual reality-focused theme park from Bandai-Namco which opened this past July in Tokyo. It's filling the space in the Ikebukuro neighborhood's Sunshine City mall previously occupied by the Shonen Jump theme-park J-World, but in essence, it's more directly a replacement for VR Zone Shinjuku, which closed in March. Many of the attractions from VR Zone Shinjuku are now playable at Mazaria.

There are currently 19 different attractions in Mazaria, plus a shop and a cafe. One attraction is a physical ride with no VR component, a Pac-Man Go Round carousel. Two more physically-involved VR attractions, Dragon Quest VR and Athletic VR Pac-Man Challenge, require an additional ticket. The rest of the VR attractions can be enjoyed freely with a Mazaria Passport. Tip for visitors: the passport is way cheaper after 5 PM, which gives you more than enough time to enjoy everything the mostly line-free park has to offer before the 10 PM closing.

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Around half of the Mazaria attractions are experiences with no pre-existing IP attached. You can enjoy bloody jump-scares with a partner in Immersive Horror Room Hospital Escape Omega or peddle your way through stunning landscapes in Hanechari (Winged Bicycle). Mazaria, however, is selling itself as "the gateway to anime and gaming worlds," and the biggest draw to the park is experiencing your favorite anime, movies and video games in VR form.

evangelion vr

Fans of Neon Genesis Evangelion will be blown away by Evangelion VR The Throne of Souls: Berserk. This ride drops you into the cockpit of an EVA Unit of your choice. Wind effects even match the rising LCL! You have a limited time to defeat the angel Zeruel and try not to get eaten. This is a wild, downright trippy experience to be placed into an anime like this, and whether you win or lose, you'll come away satisfied.

Godzilla-VR-Arcade

Godzilla VR has a similar set-up to the Evangelion ride, sitting in a cockpit firing guns and missiles at a kaiju, but it's a more guided experience. Whereas you have to control the movement of your EVA, your helicopter's path in Godzilla VR is more on-the-rails. Godzilla's design in this attraction is based more off Shin Godzilla than the recent American films, but likely anticipating interest from international fans, the ride is one of the few that is presented in English.

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gundam VR

If you want a VR experience that's entirely on-the-rails, try Gundam VR Daiba Assault. More like a motion simulator ride than a video game, this experience has you sitting on the hand of the Gundam statue in Odaiba as it comes to life in battle against a Zaku. You don't do much in VR except climb onto the hand and look around at the action, but that action is stunning, and the way the ride shakes makes it feel like you're truly there. This is available in two different versions: one with the original RX-78-2 Gundam and one with the Unicorn Gundam which currently stands in Odaiba.

Mario-Kart-VR-Gameplay

Mario Kart Arcade GP VR appears to be the most popular attraction in the park overall, and understandably so. Racing friends and strangers in Mario Kart is already tons of fun, so translating that to virtual reality is both easy to grasp and easy to enjoy. The biggest advantage of playing in VR over the regular arcade version found commonly through Japan is the tactile sensation of grabbing items. Reaching out for balloons, throwing turtle shells and whacking opponents with hammers just feels natural.

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Votoms VR

Not all the rides are as visually impressive as others. VR-AT Simulator Armored Trooper Votoms Battling Dudes, based on the Armored Trooper Votoms mecha anime franchise, has a neat premise for a two-player attraction: essentially you get two 90 second rounds to battle it out in your mechs. It controls well, but compared to the immersion of other attractions, the visuals are blurry and dull.

If you're in Tokyo, Mazaria is well worth a visit if you haven't already experienced these attractions at other VR theme parks throughout Japan. The relative lack of exclusive attractions might make this less of a must-see theme park in and of itself, but the quality of some of these attractions is so extraordinary that any opportunity to experience them should be taken.

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