James Irish goes Blue Sky on a Video Game Theme Park
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I love video games. I enjoy theme parks an awful lot, too, or else I wouldn't be here. So it makes sense to me to combine them. I think the timing's right; the modern video game era began in earnest around 1981 with Pac-Man reaching American arcades, and that's almost 30 years ago now, sufficient time for games and their characters to become ingrained in the collective consciousness of more than one generation. And since I'm a wacko who gets bored easily and likes to think about stuff like this, I figured I'd do a small blue sky treatment, and will be posting what I come up with when I come up with it.
The Big Three are as follows:
NINTENDO: Face it. Doing a park about video games without the Big N is tantamount to financial suicide. Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, Metroid, Star Fox, Kirby… these range from iconic and instantly recognizable, to certainly at minimum popular, flexible franchises that could generate a number of rides. Heck, you could theoretically build an entire dang park off Mario and his related characters alone.
BANDAI-NAMCO: I didn’t mention Pac-Man above for nothing. Video games’ first real star deserves a spot in this park, too. But the little, yellow, different fellow (sort of like Nuprin!) isn’t the only thing Namco would bring to the table. Other retro properties like Galaga, Dig-Dug and Pole Position could easily find homes in this park, as could modern Namco offerings, like Klonoa, Mr. Driller and especially Soul Calibur.
SEGA: We’ve got the little yellow guy, and the plumber in red, and that leaves one last truly landmark mascot: the blue blur, Sonic the Hedgehog. No single video game property has better lent itself to thrill rides than this one. Other, more cult level Sega properties, like House of the Dead, Super Monkey Ball, Space Harrier and Jet Set Radio, could inspire some fun attractions as well.
And minor partners?
ATARI: They’re not what they used to be, to be honest, because these days Atari depends mostly on licensed properties, namely Dragon Ball Z. But the role they had in shaping the video game landscape is pretty much inescapable. The old Atari 2600 joystick is as much a gaming icon as Pac-Man or Mario, and invoking it without their involvement in the park is just asking for a frivolous lawsuit. More importantly, good rides could be made from retro properties like Crystal Castles and especially Centipede. I just don’t see using them as much as the Big Three above.
HARMONIX: Music game makers extraordinaire (they developed the first few Guitar Hero games, the Rock Band series, and are now even getting to work with the Beatles!), Harmonix knows a thing or two about audio. In addition to a minor amphitheatre with the Rock Band name on it, Harmonix would be a key partner in developing music and sound-based mini-games for interactive exhibits throughout the park. Hey, they did it for EPCOT!
G-MODE: Never heard of them, right? They do applications for cell phones. So what makes them so special? Well, these guys hold the rights to some of the key Data East properties, specifically Burgertime. And a restaurant themed to that game is too good to pass up. Since they’re not huge players in gaming, the license will also more than likely be inexpensive.
Now here's how the park will generally look...
ENTRANCE "LAND": Arcade Concourse: A giant-sized throwback to the old days, featuring exhibits on gaming history, shops, a couple food stands, and at least one full service restaurant at the end (the aforementioned Burgertime).
From there, stretching out around the park are 5 themed lands...
South East - Mushroom Kingdom: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Donkey Kong and the rest of Nintendo's most important franchise
East by North East - Pac-Man's Park: Family-friendly franchises like Pac-Man, Pokemon, Kirby and Super Monkey Ball
North - Hyrule: Legend of Zelda is king, but also home to Soul Calibur, Fire Emblem and other high fantasy game settings
West by North West - Chaos Emerald Islands: High octane thrills courtesy of Sonic the Hedgehog and other Sega mascots
South West - Sci-Fi Escapes: Home to Metroid, Star Fox, the House of the Dead, Galaga and similar sci-fi and horror games
Up next, we'll look a little more in-depth into the Arcade Concourse's attractions, shops and dining.