Star Wars Battle Pod might not be good enough to justify paying $35,000 to have at home, but there’s no denying it’s the most fun I’ve had with an arcade game in years.
I’m not kidding about the $35,000 price tag, either. Bandai Namco announced yesterday it would let consumers start purchasing copies of Star Wars Battle Pod, and if you want the “premium edition” with “genuine leather seats” that move to the action, it’s actually $100,000!
But for most, you’ll run into Star Wars Battle Pod at the same place I did: the movie theater.
We had time to spare before Avengers: Age of Ultron a few weeks ago, and despite the hefty price tag—each game costs a few dollars—my wife and I wanted to see what modern arcade games had to offer. For the first time in a while, I experienced something I couldn’t get at home, as Star Wars Battle Pod totally overwhelmed and immersed me a familiar, if fantastic, world.
Here’s what the machine looks like on the outside:
It doesn’t really tell you much about what’s hiding on the inside: more monitors than your eyeballs can possibly process at once. Star Wars Battle Pod is meant to be too much to take in.
The screen real-estate is so impressive, and you spend so much time merely trying to comprehend all the visual detail hidden around you. Lasers! Tie fighters! AT-ATs! It’s as much fun to watch the game as it is to play. In fact, it might be more fun to watch because you’re not the one screwing up the plan to blow up the Death Star because you’re going “oooh, pretty.”
My iPhone could barely capture everything that was going on.
There are so many reasons arcades aren’t a thing anymore, but for my money, I stopped showing up when the boxes attached to my TV were giving me the same experience. Consoles were cheaper, more convenient. Star Wars Battle Pod gives me something I can’t get at home.
Sure, virtual reality might get me closer, but it won’t be everything that makes Star Wars Battle Pod a delight. It made me feel like I was in the middle of a Star Wars battle, and that wasn’t just the graphics—it was the construction of the cabinet, too. If the same game were displayed on a regular television monitor, it wouldn’t have been the same. What makes Star Wars Battle Pod click is a sense of scale achieved by preventing the player from comprehending everything.
The only reason we stepped away from Star Wars Battle Pod was because The Avengers were calling. Thankfully, Jurassic World is out in a few weeks.
You can reach the author of this post at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.