- Get your tickets
- Upon arrival
- Giant robots, a visit to the Mushroom Kingdom, and a daring cat rescue
- Just the Beginning
UPDATE: Unfortunately, VR Zone Shinjuku is permanently closed. However, VR Zone Osaka, which offers a similar experience, is still open for business.
Get your tickets
If you’d like to try some of the most cutting-edge VR experiences for yourself, look no further than VR Zone Shinjuku, located in Kabukicho, just a stone’s throw away from the unmistakable Toho Cinemas complex.
Ticket sales are limited, so I highly recommend buying your tickets in advance online (if you live in Japan you can also purchase them at your local FamilyMart). Tickets come in a variety of sets which include an entrance ticket and four or six “activity tickets.” Each activity ticket is good for one of 14 main VR attractions. Special tickets for the more elaborate attractions are also available, and you can see the myriad of purchase options here.
Upon entering the facility you are free to experience each attraction as you please. However, the first thing you should do is find one of the displays that shows the estimated wait times for each attraction. As with most popular venues in Tokyo, I recommend buying your tickets for the earliest possible time slot (10 a.m.) to avoid lines and crowds.
Once you’ve selected your virtual reality adventure, simply wait in line (if there is one), and when the time comes, give one of your tickets to a staff member. Instructions for each attraction are in Japanese and English, and several bilingual staff members are on hand, so you don’t have to worry about missing out on any critical details (the more interactive attractions can be complex).
Giant robots, a visit to the Mushroom Kingdom, and a daring cat rescue
For my top recommendation, it was a tough call between this and Evangelion VR, but the fact that Mario Kart Arcade GP VR is a more complete gaming experience gives it a slight edge. It’s the classic Mario Kart that you know and love. However, the force-feedback racing chair, the steering wheel and pedals, and the VR helmet and gloves truly create the experience of being transported right into the Mushroom Kingdom’s premier (and only) racing championship. Being able to actually grab and throw in-game items with my hands instead of using gamepad buttons is an experience that words cannot convey. You’ve just got to try it to believe it.
This is a no-brainer for fans of the classic, groundbreaking anime. This attraction truly brings the animation to life. First, you’ll experience the anxious, claustrophobic sensation of being submerged and sealed into an entry plug. Next comes nervous anticipation as you are catapulted at blazing speeds from the underground NERV HQ. Finally, you’ll experience the sheer thrill of using skyscrapers to take cover as you battle a massive invading “Angel,” running amok through Tokyo-3. Evangelion VR might not have the universal appeal of Mario Kart, but it definitely leaves fans of the series begging for more.
A slightly elevated plank and a colorless cat-shaped prop is all that awaits you at this station. A deceptively rudimentary setup turns out to be an incredibly compelling VR experience. Slip on a set of VR gear, and suddenly, that simple plank is suspended 200 meters off of the ground and you have to walk on it to rescue a helpless, doe-eyed cat. I won’t spoil the surprises that are in store for you during this brief episode. Just try it for yourself—you won’t regret it. And remember, no refunds are given if you chicken out!
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if the giant Gundam of Odaiba came to life? Well, wonder no more, as this attraction amazingly recreates that exact scenario. Hold on for dear life as the giant robot scoops you up in its hand as it engages in battle over the skies of Tokyo Bay. Although this is the least interactive attraction that I tried, it’s still well worth it for Gundam fans. Don’t forget to make the most of the VR experience by looking in all directions while the battle ensues.
Just the Beginning
With nearly 20 unique attractions, including a just-released Godzilla-themed adventure, it takes multiple visits to experience everything that VR Zone Shinjuku has to offer. Although I’m still not certain if VR for home game consoles is here to stay, after visiting VR Zone Shinjuku, I’m confident that virtual reality, with the right equipment, has a well-deserved place in game centers and other entertainment venues throughout the world.
It’s always a challenge to depict the merits of a VR experience through words, pictures, and videos. To get what all of the hype is about, you just have to experience it for yourself. And, if you find yourself in Tokyo, VR Zone Shinjuku is the perfect place to start.
For smartphone users, please click the link below to go to the Tadaima Japan website which includes additional location details: