Raw Thrills Goes VR
King Kong of Skull Island VR First Venture Into Virtual for Legendary Game Maker
by Matt Harding
King Kong of Skull Island VR, a new cinematic virtual reality motion game from Raw Thrills, has all the excitement necessary to get players out of their homes and into an arcade or entertainment center, says the maker. And they add, the experience has already been doing that at test locations, and can be a part of your facility now, as King Kong of Skull Island VR was made available at the end of January.
The adventure game takes players to Skull Island, where they use their hands through motion technology to interact with King Kong’s world – dodging man-eating plants, swatting bugs and grabbing treasures.
“The reaction to the game has been mind-blowing,” said company president Eugene Jarvis. “Players lose themselves in the stunning virtual reality visuals of Skull Island. It’s so real that some players start talking to King Kong and the other critters.”
Jarvis said today’s VR tech makes virtual reality an actual reality like it’s never been before. He recalled playing the Virtuality VR in the early ’90s. “Just like many VR games of the last few years, it was very exciting in concept, but ultimately disappointing due to blurry, sluggish, sometimes nauseating tech, and limited interaction and replayability.”
What excites Raw Thrills about VR now is why they’ve entered into the sector – great frame rates, responsiveness, super-realistic graphics and real interaction… “just like you are inside the game,” Jarvis explained.
But the tech by itself is worthless, he added, proclaiming that King Kong of Skull Island VR is the great game needed to bring everything together. “We didn’t want to waste your time with more cartoon rodents or yet another boring roller coaster simulator,” Jarvis declared. “Go big or go home!”
VR, he said, naturally lends itself to the game, calling it “the only way to truly experience the strength, massive power and emotions of King Kong, and the incredible scenery of Skull Island.”
Along with Jarvis, leading the Raw Thrills team on the game’s development was senior video game producer Matt Cianchetti and project lead Mike Foy.
The machine made its debut in New Orleans at the 2020 Amusement Expo but has gone through major changes since then. Only one chapter of the game was available then and they were still working through some gameplay elements.
“The interactivity has evolved a lot since then,” Cianchetti said, noting two full chapters are now playable and they’re working on a third. “The people who play it now are going to really be impressed by what they can see and do.”
The full hand-tracking is among the most fun aspects of the game. “It’s amazingly cool,” Foy added. “Having been making games for such a long time, this game is really exciting for me.”
Cianchetti said the machine uses reliable air compressors similar to those found in Jurassic Park Arcade, their 2015 motion game – sure to make operators happy due to less maintenance.
The game has a competitive aspect as well, tallying up each player’s score and declaring a winner. Not to mention the cinematic feature that makes the game a real attention grabber. “It’s very movie-like,” he said. “It’s a unique experience that stands out in the marketplace.”
Added Foy: “It’s been a blast working on it.” He said IP rights holder and creator Joe DeVito and and IP producer Dannie Festa of World Builder Entertainment have also been a lot of fun to work with – passionate and very helpful through the development process.
From a Covid standpoint, testing was a challenge and like everything else, it had to be pushed back. “We had to examine what the realities of the market were going to be before releasing the game,” Cianchetti explained. “We think that time is now. Players today are more comfortable, knowing Covid risks are being minimized with the latest cleaning, health and safety protocols.
“The feedback has been pretty positive from operators, too,” he said. “They’ve been happy with the collections. It’s been earning very well.”
Living up to their name, the thrills are definitely there with this attraction. “It’s entertaining to watch people experience the game,” Cianchetti said. “One operator said, ‘I hear nothing but screaming from that ride.’”
From Jarvis’s perspective, 2021 will be an exciting year. He said he’s hoping everyone gets vaccinated and its effectiveness holds up.
“Back in 2020 when Covid was running rampant and most locations were shut down, I couldn’t believe that some operators were still buying games. They wanted to be ready to open up in style! And that did pay off when many locations were able to open up to some pretty good summer and fall traffic.”
Jarvis said he thinks that same strategy works in 2021, “but on steroids.”
“You want to get ready now, get some great new games to blow your players’ minds when they first come in the door,” he said. “The word gets out and the place will be packed for what may well be a great season as pent up cabin fever leads to a stampede for out-of-home entertainment.”
Learn more about the game at www.rawthrills.com/king-kong-of-skull-island.