Escaping the show floor for some head pats and homemade coffee.
This weekend the Los Angeles Convention Center hosted the 2019 Anime Expo, an absolutely gargantuan four-day conference dedicated entirely to Japanese animation, aka anime. Those who managed to survive the absolutely soul-crushing lines circling the outside of the venue were greeted to conference halls bursting at the seams with thousands of cosplayers, as well as dozens upon dozens of booths and installations showcasing some of the industries biggest properties.
However, those who explored the LA Convention Center’s Entertainment Hall may have come across an experience slightly different from those offered throughout the rest of the conference. Buried behind thick crowds and various other exhibits, Japanese developer Illusion Software’s booth offered attendees the chance to go hands-on with VR Kareshi, a love simulation VR game in which players are pampered by a hunky virtual boyfriend guaranteed to steal yo girl.
I had a chance to check out the experience myself while attending this year’s festivities and suffice to say my time with VR Kareshi, while brief, was a surprisingly personal experience.
The experience began with me selecting a few options to customize my experience; this included entering my name as well as choosing from three different voices in which to assign to my new significant other. In the full release, Illusion promises players even more customization options, including the ability to alter body type, hair, skin color, muscle mass, and clothing; all of which coming together to create your one-of-a-kind dream guy.
After making my selections, I was immediately thrown into a 10-minute demo in which my partner begrudgingly whipped me up a quick dinner after I arrived home late. The first thing I noticed about the experience was the impressive graphical fidelity. Despite running on Google Cardboard using a mobile device (I was using an iPhone during my demonstration), VR Kareshi looks crisp and runs surprisingly smooth.
Using simple, gaze-based technology, I was able to interact with both my environment—a small restaurant named Cafe Harukaze—as well as some of the characters, including my VR partner and a Shiba puppy. At one point my virtual partner begins teasing me about my lateness and asks if I’m tired from my long day; I respond by nodding my head up and down, at which point my partner begins to relish in his correct assumption.
After a few more rounds of teasing and some slightly uncomfortable head pats—again, I am definitely not the intended demographic for this game—my virtual senpai hands me my meal, which now has my name scribbled out on top with sauce. It’s a small, but memorable moment, one that adds an important touch of intimacy and personalization to the overall experience.
According to Illusion, the full release of VR Kareshi will include a wider variety of features, including AR functionality that transports your VR boyfriend to the real world. There’s also the option to operate the experience like a normal 2D app, allowing you to interact your virtual boo on the go.
VR Kareshi will be available for download on iOS and Android. No word yet on an official release date.
Featured Image Credit: Illusion
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