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POD Inception

  • SumoMe

Head down to the arcade because Gundam is getting techy with its Panoramic Optical Display.

An Article by Penny V

I don’t usually go to arcades because I’m pretty happy with my PSP/iPod Touch and basically I’m a little shy, but it’s practically my partner’s second home. If he ever needs to wait for me, I just need to head to the nearest arcade to find him playing or waiting for his turn at Tekken or Street Fighter.

On a recent trip to a downtown arcade (read: yesterday), I saw some new additions that were drawing crowds. Of course, with my natural and ever-ready urge to be nosy, I went to check out what these large white capsules were all about.

It turns out that it was a new display, known as Panoramic Optical Display (POD) with the accompanying game, “Mobile Suit Gundam: Bonds of the Battlefield”. Each POD is rather large and features an adjustable seat, surround sound speakers, a curved screen with a projector and controls at the hands and feet.

POD Inception

Now, visualise one of those anime characters that control their huge battle suits/robots from the inside? Well that’s exactly how it looks like: it provides a first person view style and it makes you feel like you’re controlling the machine instead of the character once you’re seated in the cockpit.

Developed by Namco Bandai, this virtual game can be played as a single player or linked to several other systems for battles from opposing factions. If players launch simultaneously, voice chat via the wireless headset allows players in the same team to talk to one another.

POD InceptionAs someone who doesn’t play arcade games on a regular basis, okay never, I tend to stick to the PS3 at most for my love of Sack Boy from Little Big Planet, the display was rather overwhelming. The projection made you feel like you were in the thick of things, while information on enemies and statistics were displayed in real time: I didn’t know where to look! Other gamers though seemed rather at ease, giving commands and only looking at what was needed.

Players start as a beginner and fight on a separate map before joining the main map once they are promoted to the rank of private. Opponents are matched based on rank and each session consists of 2 matches. Fans will be pleased as Mobile suites are based on what appeared in the series.

Released in Japan in 2006, the game only made its way overseas in 2008, with its first stop in Hong Kong. Singapore is only the second country to bring the PODs over and was activated in August this year.

For a dose of some Gundam fun, head on over to the arcade at Bugis Junction or Ang Mo Kio Hub. For myself, I’ll just stick to it as a spectator sport.

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