Arcade Fever is a column where I like to talk about some of the coolest games that you can't play outside of an arcade. It's been a while since something new caught my eye, but a couple of weeks ago my trusty Robots & Spaceships podcasting sidekick Buri hauled me out to a game center in his home town of Shibukawa to show me something he'd found. Buri's a bit of a nutcase so I really had no idea what to expect, but I certainly didn't expect Dark Escape 4D.
The whole concept of a "4D" experience is relatively new to me. The first time I actually heard someone say 4D it was on Facebook and this guy wrote on his status that he "just saw my first 4D movie and it was crazzzzzzyyy!" Of course my first reaction was what the F is 4D? There's no such thing! But it turns out the 4th dimension is what they're calling adding additional stimulus to your movie or game experience, like blowing air at you, or spraying you with mist when someone sneezes. It all sounds like something from a cheesy Disneyland attraction. So when Buri and I rolled up to this game center and he shows me this cabinet for Dark Escape 4D, I was thinking "Ok, this is a joke. This is going to be hilariously lame." It was not hilarious or lame, at all.
Dark Escape 4D was released late last year by Namco, and features a full 3D HD screen, 5.1 surround sound, force feedback seats, heart rate monitors, and air guns that blow air in your face when stuff happens. This all combines into one hell of crazy on rail shooter experience that had me screaming at the screen and legitimately jumping out of my seat. It plays a lot like a House Of The Dead game, as you try and escape hordes of zombies and monsters that jump out from every direction. It even has some pretty cool boss fights. If it wasn't in 3D, with all the "4D" extras, the game would probably be considered passe, but it's awesome.
There has absolutely never been an arcade experience like this before that I know of, and I was enjoying the hell out of it. We talked about it on last weeks podcast and Buri really nailed it saying he's got tons of games to play at home, he's got multiple consoles, but this game has him going down to the arcade and pumping in coins because it's such a unique experience.
One of the things that I really loved, and that you might think was the least interesting, is actually the heart rate monitor built into the gun handles. At the end of each round, it shows you who had the most panic attacks between you and your co-op partner, which had us rolling and yelling at each other. It's just a great extra touch that really makes you feel like you're playing something revolutionary that you've never seen before. Let me tell you though, when you're wearing those 3D glasses, in the dark arcade cabinet, and a zombie jumps in your face as the machine blows air at you, you're damn right you're going to have a panic attack. Dark Escape 3D is the only game that's ever done that to me though, and that's why I can't wait to go back for more.
Check out the official trailer for Dark Escape 4D below, it does a pretty good job of showing the kind of fun that the game is. It's out in both Japan and North America, so I highly recommend checking it out if you can find a place that has it.