On the third floor of Sunshine City in Ikebukuro, there is a place with a huge display showing a unique promotional video at both sides of its entrance, which makes visitors expect something interesting. As soon as you enter inside, you will be immersed in the world of animation and videogame through VR (virtual reality).
You can have unrealistic experiences such as flying in the sky with a bike, or saving a cat on a plank 200 meters above ground. By seeing your hands on the display, feeling the breeze on your face, and hearing the sounds from the headphones, you will feel as if you are actually in another world.
MAZARIA is a space for you to enjoy a variety of VR activities, including “Mario Kart Arcade GP”, “Dragon Quest”, “Evangelion”, “Pac-Man” and “Taiko no Tatsujin”.
You can choose from both hard games and light games. Each VR device is equipped with a microphone that allows you to talk to your family and friends while playing the game. Therefore, you can be connected to a real relationship while being immersed in the experience of another reality.
MAZARIA is one of the many VR enterprises created by Bandai Namco Amusement Inc.(BNAI). While BNAI’s former project is located in city center, MAZARIA is installed in Ikebukuro of the Toshima ward (豊島区). It is born out of a different concept.
Chihiro Kondo, an employee of BNAI, said they chose this particular location because Ikebukuro went well with MAZARIA’s concept. Ikebukuro promoted subculture and activated arts. She also explained that MAZARIA is a unique 2.5D world, a combination between the 2D world and the 3D world.
Some staff wear special costumes and act as if they were from the 2D world so visitors can get absorbed in the 2.5D world before they start the activities. The BNAI employees curated videogames, animations after carefully considering their attractivity if they were to exist in reality. All VR activities are indeed stimulating and enjoyable but does not exist in a real-world context.
Therefore, to ensure the safety of visitors and to prevent injuries, the alert system is installed on all VR devices. Because there is no standard distance betweeen people and VR devices, BNAI staff carefully decided the distance between them. If a visitor gets too close to the devices, alerts will ring.
Such commitment to details is what makes MAZARIA different from an arcade. BNAI hopes customers have a magical time there. You can go to Namco Namja Town(this facility is run by BNAI) through the floor of MAZARIA because Namja Town is connected with MAZARIA.
The entrance ticket, costing 4500 yen, gives visitors access to almost every activity inside the facility for the entire days with the opportunity to reenter. The night passport ticket with entrance time starting 5 p.m. only costs 3500 yen.
According to Kondo, the entrance fee is set at 4500 yen to ensure quality experiences for visitors. She also mentioned the possibility of offering discount for people who have visited other stores in Sunshine City.
Pamphlets of MAZARIA are written in four languages(Japanese, English, Korean, Simplified Chinese). Although more and more tourists from Taiwan and Hong Kong are coming to MAZARIA, it hasn’t yet prepared pamphlets written in traditional Chinese.
Kondo regarded this as a problem. She also said it goes without saying that MAZARIA must continue putting priority on the safe of customers.
Please visit MAZARIA when you are in Ikebukuro!
written by Yusuke Kazamaki