Tokyo doesn’t always live up to its reputation as a high-tech metropolis, but when it comes to experiencing virtual reality (VR), Tokyo is right at the forefront. Interested in seeing what all the fuss is about? There are plenty of options!
Sega VR Akihabara
Housed on the 6th floor of Sega Akihabara Building 3, this small VR area is your most straightforward option.
Its headline game is Mortal Blitz, a solo, first-person shooter. I won’t spoil any of the details, but the game itself is a pretty immersive shoot-the-aliens-and-get-to-the-chopper affair. You’re jacked in with a backpack and a rifle, so no overhead wires, but the game is quite good at funneling you into the right places. I took some time to tool around peering over ledges, exploring the boundaries of the environment and staring at my floating VR hands. I still got a decent rank, so I’m not sure how the game is scored.
The website gives a time of 30 minutes, which I’d say is very ambitious. I was in and out in closer to 20. That’s 5 or so minutes prep and 10-15 in-game. I’ll chalk that up to getting a much shorter explanation on how to play, since my Japanese isn’t all too hot.
They also offer “Tower Tag”, a 2v2 arena-style shooter. This time you’re wired up via overhead cables, so you won’t be moving around much, but the game has some novel ways of overcoming that. Expect around 10 minutes of in-game action.
Other games include Tiger Knight and Western Cowboy, both of which involve sitting on a motorized saddle and haphazardly shooting aggressors with a bow and arrow or dual pistols, respectively.
It’s a simple fixed pricing system per person: ¥1,500 for Mortal Blitz, ¥1,000 for Tower Tag, ¥800 for Tiger Knight and Western Cowboy. I recommend pre-booking or arriving early, especially on weekends.
Joypolis, Sega’s high-tech theme park on Odaiba also offers VR opportunities. I was surprised to learn that Joypolis doesn’t actually have all that much VR content as such—just two attractions. The others, while pretty fun, are more like traditional rides with standard screens used in novel ways.
The “Zero Latency VR” room allows up to 6 players to play at once. It’s a wire-free setup, so it really is free roaming within the confines of the room.
For 2018, they’re running “Zombie Survival”, which takes around 15 minutes. It requires a booking, so you’ll only need to arrive 15 minutes before your allotted time, but that privilege comes with an additional price tag of ¥2,000 on top of whatever you paid to get into the park.
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They also offer Tower Tag, which is available without a reservation. Expect to spend plenty of time waiting in line though. The waiting time for most rides hovers between one and two hours throughout the day.
There are two pricing systems in play at Joypolis. The first is an admission ticket, which allows you to pay an entry fee of ¥800, then pay additional fees for any rides you go on. This can be effective if you’re only interested in two or three rides, but less so if you plan on spending the day.
The second is a passport ticket, which effectively lets you try as many rides as you’d like. This gets cheaper as the day goes on. But be warned, odds are if you turn up too late you’ll spend all your time waiting for a single ride. There are quite a few discounts, especially for foreigners, so it’s worth checking the site to see if you qualify.
VR Zone Shinjuku
Japan’s largest and most popular VR destination, with an impressive range of multiplayer and solo games.
The current headliner, which requires a reservation, is “Ghost in the Shell: Arise Stealth Hounds”—a wire-free 3v3 arena shooter. The gimmick here is that you can turn briefly invisible to evade and ambush your enemies. It’s a lot of fun, and if you’re not with friends you’ll be paired with strangers. That’s not a problem, but there’s some communication involved, so if your Japanese isn’t great, don’t count on winning!
The other game that requires booking in advance is Dragon Quest VR, which doesn’t look especially exciting unless you’re a diehard fan of the series.
There are also ten or so standard games to try at any given time, often also tied in with big franchises like Dragonball, Mariokart, Neon Genesis Evangelion. With a generic hospital horror game, a dinosaur escape, virtual concerts and even a fishing sim, VR Zone has by far the most variety in Tokyo. But just like Joypolis, expect to wait upwards of an hour for each game.
The pricing system took a little time to get my head around, but basically you buy tickets and those tickets allow you to enter a game of your choice. Bookings for Ghost in the Shell and Dragon Quest cost extra. Spending the day can easily set you back ¥7,000–¥8,000. Vaguely English-friendly information can be found here.
If you’re just looking to try out VR in Tokyo, Sega in Akihabara is your best bet for both price and waiting time. Like any theme park, you’ll spend the vast majority of your time and money waiting in line at both VR Zone and Joypolis, but there’s also a much greater diversity of things to do for more hardcore VR fans—especially if you want to play with a group of friends.
Cheapo bonus tip
If you’re looking for a more unconventional experience, private VR pornography rooms have popped up throughout Tokyo. From what I’ve seen, prices blow the competition out of the water, starting from ¥2,000 for a couple of hours with a PC loaded with adult films and a VR headset. Presumably tissues and hand sanitizer are included…
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