What is VR? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]

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VR or Virtual Reality has actually been around longer than you think, dating back to the late 80’s when the technology was being tampered with to see its benefits. It didn’t really start taking off in the mainstream however until the early to mid 90’s when companies like Nintendo released the Virtual Boy, which ended being a commercial failure, but still hinted at something truly remarkable that would soon evolve into what we have today. Virtual Reality takes the player into a world that is similar to that of our true reality, but puts a twist on it to trick your brain into thinking you’re still actually there. It’s literally a virtual world in which the player must interact with objects and people in very much the same way you would in real life, but must now use unique gestures and precise movements to correctly control what’s on screen. Sony has taken the world by storm with its latest advancement in VR technology and you can see its wonders in games like Summer Lesson, where you can interact with a female student and conduct activities just like you would on a daily basis. Now that you have a general idea of what VR means, let us take a closer look at some amazing VR titles that show off its potential.

A Virtual Real World

VR essentially puts the player into a virtual real world setting where tasks must be completed, while using your body to control what happens. This unique experience takes the conventional style of playing video games and provides an even more immersive experience by allowing you to feel like you’re truly a part of it all. This is a technological marvel because for years many of us have always dreamed of playing our favorite first person shooters in VR, or even wandering around in a massive 3D world like Skyrim all using a VR headset. Companies like Capcom and Bandai Namco have already taken advantage of this remarkable piece of hardware with the likes of Resident Evil 7, and Gundam. Project i-Can is a VR project in Japan where anybody can participate in, and take advantage of various aspects about the VR technology. One example is climbing on top of a ledge of a building in order to save a cat, while the other has you sitting in the cockpit of a mecha and shooting down the enemy in real time. However Bandai Namco as we stated, created one really unique title that was on the tip of everyone’s tongue after it was revealed, and that’s Summer Lesson.


Summer Lesson

  • System/Platform: PlayStation 4
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Developer: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Release Date: October 13, 2016

Summer Lesson is the latest VR title from Bandai Namco Studios and puts you in charge of a young girl who comes to you to learn lessons. Think of this game as like a tutor simulation game, where you and this girl named Hikari must conduct meetings through SNS and you grade her performance as you progress through the game. Of course VR wouldn’t be VR without its perks, and while you’re helping this girl out your curiosity starts to perk up and now you start staring at things that perhaps you shouldn’t be. It’s this versatility that VR allows that really gives Summer Lesson a really fresh feel, because one minute you’re at a park sitting down Hikari having a nice relaxing lesson and then you suddenly find yourself in her bedroom soaking in everything around you. This true sense of immersion is the shining achievement in VR and while Summer Lesson doesn’t necessarily have some sort of story plot behind it, it’s serves up a nice form of entertainment that only shows us the potential of the VR experience.

Bandai Namco Studios is no slouch when it comes to performance and one other plus is that Summer Lesson runs very smoothly without many hiccups. The gameplay is simple yet rewarding, and often times you start to focus more on the details around your character than grading the lessons themselves. It’s not perfect by any means, but what Summer Lesson is trying to teach us is that communication plays a very big role in our everyday lives, and being able to practice that very humanistic quality in VR format is a nice little treat.

Summer Lesson PlayStation VR TGS 2016 Trailer


Mind Blowing

When we say mind blowing we’re not talking about the graphics department, because VR doesn’t really stand out in a major way in that category just yet. While the PS Pro is currently sitting atop the throne with its 4K and boost mode options, the VR still has a ways to go until it can reach that pristine quality. What makes VR so amazing is just how versatile it is and that you can pretty much create any game and turn it into something entertaining. Live concerts are something many of us either take advantage of or take for granted, but one thing is for certain live concerts are truly a breathtaking experience. To be able to incorporate that very same feeling into a video game can be quite challenging, but for the team at Sega they’ve taken one of Japan’s most popular idols and made it all look easy. We’re talking about Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live, a game where the player is situated within a digital concert and you move along to the beat with Hatsune as she performs popular songs.


Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live

  • System/Platform: PlayStation 4
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Crypton Future Media | Piapro
  • Release Date: October 13, 2016

While some may find this appalling and somewhat strange, Hatsune Miku is like a goddess here in Japan and is perhaps the queen of all vocaloid performances around the world. Her upbeat and cheerful personality paired with her catchy tunes makes VR Future Live a very unforgettable experience, because it’s a lot like being there in a real concert as you swing your glow sticks from left to right in excitement. The energy is palpable and you can truly feel every sensation as you’re just immersed in this packed venue full of colors. You’ve got the best seats in the house because you’re directly in front of Hatsune and her crew members as they dance away to the beat, and sing along to the oftentimes electrifying music. The controller is no longer a controller and it now becomes your otaku weapon of choice, as you wail your arms in excitement and just soak in all of the glory the VR has to offer. The more you cheer Miku on, the more voltage she receives which only brings more hype to the concert, and if you max out your voltage meter then Miku will take you on board to do a one-on-one encore performance. This is something that many don’t even get a chance to experience at a real concert, because with thousands of screaming fans everywhere it’s almost impossible to get chosen.

Not with VR Future Live, as you’re in the spotlight while everyone else has to sneer at you with their jealous eyes. Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live takes everything you love about the franchise and throws it all at you. It comes with the 1st stage initially but as of now all three stages are available for fans to check out and have fun with. If you haven’t had the opportunity to test this very fun game out then definitely hit up the PSN Store and give it a shot. You may not be a fan of Hatsune Miku, but we can guarantee that you’ll come out of it feeling like you’ve just finished watching a real mind blowing performance.

Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live Trailer


Almost TOO Real

While Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live and Summer Lesson do give players the chance to immerse themselves in a somewhat ‘real’ environment, there’s still something that seems to lack in terms of absolute realism. Perhaps it’s the character designs or just the environments themselves, but they’re missing something that really reels you in and keeps you there for as long as humanly possible. Moving onto the more realistic experiences, VR can oftentimes reel you in almost too much to the point where you need to press the eject button because psychologically you’ve been damaged. The horror genre is perhaps the one genre that takes VR to a whole new level of craziness because, horror games have been notorious for tripping people out and causing enormous panic when under severe pressure. Playing with just a controller in hand with the lights off is scary indeed, but now VR takes that up two or three notches and says “now it’s time to TRULY experience what real horror is”.


Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

  • System/Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: January 24, 2017

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is no joke, and it’s a no holds barred type of game where things can pop out at you without warning, and moments of terror have your heart racing a mile a minute. The RE series has always been noted for having some very terrifying moments, but it doesn’t even compare to the amount of fear that you experience with the VR headset strapped onto your face. We had an opportunity to sit down with the game before its release and wandered around the creepy Baker residence in search for clues, and everything just felt so real as if you were actually in the house along with everything else. One minute you’re descending down a flight of stairs in search for items with only a pistol in hand, then you turn the corner only to have these atrocious looking creatures morph from out of the wall and run at you in this very unorthodox way. What makes it so heart racing is that these enemies feel real, and so your brain tries to alert you to say “KILL IT! RUN! RUN!” but then the other half of your brain is trying to remind you that it’s just a game. This psychological torture is what gives RE7 the thrill, but also the rewarding experience of what VR should be.

VR in every sense of the word is meant to portray a virtual living breathing world, and RE7 emcompasses all of that in one frightening package. The Baker family is truly a different story to deal with, because they each have their own distinctive personality that’s truly alarming as well. Whether you’re fighting off a horde of insects with the flamethrower, or desperately trying to hurry through a hallway full of centipedes crawling over you, RE7 is VR perfection and we pray that other companies will take notice of Capcom’s ingenious approach and make more horror games of this nature.

Resident Evil 7 Biohazard Official Launch Trailer


Final Thoughts

So while VR is still somewhat new in the gaming industry, it certainly has come a long way from the early days. The game industry as a whole is still evolving and in a way is still on its way towards maturity, and we’re totally excited to see what’s in store for the gaming world. With Nintendo Switch showing off its impeccable 3D responsive technology in its Joy Con Controllers, Sony making waves with VR along with other names like Oculus and Vive paving the way, it’s safe to say that our money is going into something totally game changing and we are eager to dive into this new world. Which VR title really excited you the most? Which one have you played? Let us know your experiences in the comments section below, and be sure to follow us on social media to get all the latest buzz straight from the source!

As always for all things sweet, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.

Rob

Editor/Writer

Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!

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