Bandai Namco today announced that the company is moving into the VR arcade space and one of the highlight VR experiences they’ll offer is one of the first VR experiences to involve official Nintendo blessing, Mario Kart Arcade GP VR.

Bandai Namco are veterans of the old fashioned arcade gaming industry, still wildly popular in the company’s home country of Japan. Now, they’re looking to freshen up the image of their out of home entertainment business by opening dedicated VR Arcades, complete with seated motion platforms and HTC Vive virtual reality powered experiences.

The news, announced today and translated for us by MoguraVR, states that Bandai Namco and their in-house VR development team known as “Project I Can” has been scouting Japan for locations in which to build these new VR venues since 2016. Director of Bandai Namco, Makoto Asanuma says he wanted to see synergies between the company’s big name IPs and virtual reality along with broadening their expertise in related technologies such as haptics.

The company have announced 16 VR experiences which will feature in these new arcades, but by far the most notable and surprising is a VR version of Nintendo’s beloved racing franchiseMario Kart. Complete with virtual reality visuals, provided by the HTC Vive, the experience also looks to utilise a motion platform rig, complete with steering wheel. There are only brief glimpses of the experience in the promotional video above, but the thought of one of gaming’s most beloved franchises making its way to VR is heartening, especially given Nintendo’s stance on VR up to now.

The company is dipping its toe with a small mini ‘VR Zone Portal’ venue first, opening in London this summer with 3-4 new VR IP present. The first full sized “VR Zone” venue will open in Shinjuku, Japan in March of 2019. The facility will boast 40,000 square feet of space over 2 floors and, alongside Mario Kart GP VR will feature other famousVR franchise entries including Evangelion and Dragon Ball.

We’ll keep you up to date on developments of Bandai Namco’s new VR venture once we learn more. Thanks again to MoguraVR for the translation.

Image courtesy | Bandai Namco / Nintendo