Nostalgia is a powerful thing, generating stacks of money for those who know how to properly harness it. Is it powerful enough to help people get fit? Perhaps, since that is the concept behind Walk-O-Motion, a virtual reality (VR) system that uses two classic 90s titles to try and encourage people to exercise in VR.
We’ve already seen that red-clad Italian plumber’s adventures rendered in augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) using ARKit and HoloLens, now Walk-O-Motion is using a combination of classic 90s Mario visuals along with a specially designed tracking system that accurately simulates movement as users play.
Created by a developer identified as nimSony, Walk-O-Motion not only reduced simulation sickness symptoms, but also encourages fitness by letting users jog briskly through the first level of Super Mario Bros, physically jumping to stomp on Goombas, gather coins or smash bricks. You can even leap on the flag pole at the end of the level.
Similarly, for those who ‘gotta go fast’ there is the chance to run like Sonic through Sonic the Hedgehog‘s Green Hill Zone Act 1. Users can jog to make Sonic run, collect rings, bounce on springs to go higher or duck and zoom through tunnels.
The Walk-O-Motion system uses the position tracking data to sync with the videogame, allowing the user’s body to be tricked into believing it is really experiencing what it can see. The system is compatible with HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, though the Super Mario Bros title only currently works with Oculus Rift and requires a gamepad controller to work.
Neither title is authorised by the respective rightsholders at Sega or Nintendo, so it seems unlikely that these demos will make the jump to a commercial product. Walk-O-Motion can be downloaded from Itch.io. Video demonstrations of the two titles in action can be viewed below.
The developer is also working on a Walk-O-Motion version of classic shooter Halo, for users who would like something more action-packed.
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