Last Fall Six Flags Discovery Kingdom made its first foray into the world of roller coaster virtual reality by adding Rage of the Gargoyles to Kong, with a result that was not entirely satisfactory, at least on my visit (Review HERE). After a brief return to normal operations, Kong is now featuring The New Revolution Galactic Attack (also being added to Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain and Shockwave at Six Flags Over Texas). During this first weekend of operation it is only available to guests bringing a bag of non-perishable food Saturday and Sunday, but yesterday they also invited members of the media to have a go, and this VR variation is much more successful than the previous. We’re going to be teetering near the edge of spoiler territory, but will try to stay out.
Both groups received wristbands outside the gates, and were admitted to Kong’s queue by a helpful young woman that spent the rest of her day disappointing those whose wrists were barren. Other than a few banners, nothing is different approaching the load platform
After a couple of rainy, windy days, Saturday was cool and grey, and though not devoid of wind, dry. It was foreboding enough to keep attendance to a minimum, plus there’s a good chance that many don’t yet realize the park is now open year round, at least on the weekends. Clearly they had a better grip operationally with the VR technology, and there were some noticeable differences from Rage of the Gargoyles.
First, riders weren’t limited to a single ride during a pre-determined time slot. The weather and limited availability certainly kept things manageable, but the entire process has been streamlined. Gone are the wordy signs with complicated instructions. It is now assumed, mostly correctly, that riders have the initiative to figure out how to attach the device to their skulls. They also eliminated the calibration step on the coaster that required a QR code on the seat ahead of the rider. Instead, each headset is designated for specific rows as well as the left or right seat. The sanitation step remains intact, so one merely collects a clean headset and goes to the assigned row.
Perhaps your humble narrator should clarify that Galactic Attack is not a Pure VR experience; it is, in fact, a mixed reality experience. As the headset is tightened into position, all of the actual surroundings are seen through the unit’s camera, with some instrument overlays also present. So if you look at your riding partner, you see your riding partner. But if your riding partner is under 13 years of age, they can’t use a headset.
After settling into our seats, helpful attendants ensured that the headsets were properly secured, functional and focused before lowering and locking the restraints. Operationally, it was a much smoother process, especially considering the extra layer of complexity that results from having a POV camera for use by us media folk. I like to think that MiceChat readers have better things to do than watch a video of me riding a roller coaster, plus I felt that the time waiting for that specific seat would be better spent getting in additional rides.
We were still completely surrounded by reality as the train began its ascent up the lift hill, and there were a few minor glitches in the camera, such as periodically needing a moment to refocus, stuff like that. It was all moot pretty quickly however since before we reached the hill’s crest we were racing through a wormhole, emerging on the other side in the cockpit of a spaceship caught up in a massive battle. Once the targets appeared, there was continuous tracer fire aimed wherever I looked. The target ships were surrounded by colorful force fields, and like Voyage to the Iron Reef at Knott’s Berry Farm, they required multiple hits before being completely destroyed. Entering the final brake zone before reentering the station, one has three choices of direction, made by looking towards the desired destination. This leads to a final encounter with an intimidating foe, which varies depending upon your choice, before the restraints release and you realize that the train has stopped. Here is a concept video released by Six Flags.
We were able to ride four times in the front, middle and rear of the train, and the frustration of last autumn was replaced by the fun of generally understanding what was happening and what was required, plus the relative ease of figuring it out when not immediately obvious. By no means am I a big time gamer, yet even my score increased every ride. My son Colin reckons that destroying ships with all three color force-fields gave us the power to vanquish the final foe on our last ride. That was the only time that our opponent exploded, so it seems that it is the combined play of both riders in the row that determines success.
Considering that this was the first day of the ride, along with the delays necessitated by dealing with the POV setup, things ran as well as one could hope. It will take longer to dispatch trains with the VR than it would be without, but they clearly have a better handle on things now than they did during Haunt, so I left without the pessimism I felt after riding Rage of the Gargoyles. It would probably be better still on a smoother coaster, (I’m looking forward to experiencing the Magic Mountain version next month), but I was always aware of what was happening on this ride as opposed to feeling like we were flying around a city during an earthquake as before. The rest of the park was pretty desolate yesterday, even the major coasters were near walk ons, so it won’t usually be so easy to get in four battles. But both young guy and old felt like our stomachs would not have wanted to have many more circuits anyway. But there was a desire to keep going while we could, plus, like any good game, the desire to improve and beat the previous score. All in all it’s a solid result, deserving at least 3.5 stars, maybe even four, on the standard Five Star Jimmy Scale (5=Hendrix, 4=Page, 3=Vaughn, 2=Osmond, 1=Swaggert). The Attack Hunger promotion continues today with ride wristbands available to anyone bringing a bag of non-perishable food; check in at the table outside the park’s entrance. The New Revolution Galactic Attack opens to all Monday, February 20 at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. The ride debuts in Six Flags Magic Mountain and Six Flags Over Texas February 25.