Even with the advent of headsets like Oculus Quest making it easier and cheaper to step into VR, for a lot of consumers, the price is still a hefty leap. Which is one of the reasons location-based entertainment (LBE) centres have been popping up worldwide, offering a cheaper chance to dip your toes into VR gaming. The Namco Funscape arcade in central London, UK is a great place to grab a beer and enjoy some gaming, with a new VR ZONE Portal section that includes the company’s famous Mario Kart Arcade GP VR.
Bandai Namco Entertainment created its first VR ZONE Portal in Tokyo, Japan back in 2017, offering a range of immersive experiences and videogames. The company then decided to expand its ‘VR ZONE Portal’ brand overseas, with the UK being the first country selected. This saw the VR ZONE Portal London location open at The O2 arena, offering the first chance to play Mario Kart Arcade GP VR outside of Japan.
The Namco Funscape arcade is far more centrally located than The O2, making it easier to travel to. Located next to Waterloo Station as well as other attractions like the London Eye, The London Dungeon and London Aquarium – so there’s plenty to do. Obviously the star VR attraction at VR ZONE Portal Westminster is Mario Kart, allowing four players to compete against one another as some of the iconic characters from the franchise. As VRFocus has previously reported when playing the videogame in 2018 the system uses HTC Vive’s in conjunction with Vive Trackers so you can physically throw green shells and bananas at opponents. It costs £7.59 GBP per person for a 5-minute race or £24.95 for four people.
That’s not all VR ZONE Portal Westminster has to offer, however. One of the most popular home VR titles is rhythm-action videogame Beat Saber and back in 2018 developer Beat Games partnered up with South Korea’s Skonec Entertainment to build an arcade version for the Asian market. Namco Funscape is one of the few places in the UK you can try Beat Saber Arcade.
You can also step onto the Extreme Machine with Oculus Rift S headsets attached. Here you can select from a range of smaller VR titles such as the jet skiing one seen above. All the videogames make use of a controller which you stand on, using your body weight to steer left and right or forwards/backwards depending on the experience. Ubisoft’s Virtual Rabbids: The Big Plan is on hand to offer some VR gaming suited to younger players.