The Oculus Rift VR headset can take you to incredible fictional places, like scene from gorgeous movies like Interstellar or Spirited Away. Last night, it took me somewhere more grounded in reality, but still spectacular: my own personal, deliciously retro, '80s arcade.
The New Retro Arcade, by Digital Cybercherries, easily ranks among my favourite virtual reality experiences thus far. That could be because I'm a nerdy gamer, sure, but it also could be the incredible variety of things you can actually do inside this CRT-tastic game palace.
Walking along the ridiculously patterned carpet and taking in the dizzying deluge of light and sound, I found that I could play practically every arcade game I laid eyes on, with their buttons and joysticks actually responding to my commands as digital "scanlines" occluded their old-school CRT screens.
There's Tetris,Q-Bert, Missile Command, Asteroids, Joust and plenty more, plus a few anachronistic additions like Flappy Bird and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX. (It looks like Digital Cybercherries is using a Game Boy Color emulator to actually run the games.)
But you don't have to have your nose stuck in a virtual arcade cabinet the whole time; there's also a fully operational two-lane bowling alley, a working dartboard, two basketball machines, and a bunch of original Game Boy handhelds lying around, all playable. You can even find cassette tapes with '80s music and stick them into a boombox, then carry it around the arcade with you. Because what's cooler than playing Missile Command while jamming to The Final Countdown?
Between the games themselves and the incredibly immersive environment—covered in classic movie posters and bathed in neon and virtual cigarette smoke—it felt like a place I could just chill out for a while, and come back every so often to get away from some of the real screens in my non-digital world. I haven't been able to say that about any other VR experience so far. [Digital CyberCherries via Road To VR]