Tokyo Game Centre series

Lost Land Adventure

Why are gun shooters always so camp? Lost Land Adventure (2014) joins in, with the same old ooh-scary beefcakeish monsters and uninspired cosplayer heroes (Indy and Lara, natch). In a strangely seedy turn, though, this walk-in booth has odd little ankle-showing shower curtains over its entrances and a peep-hole in the middle inviting you to spy into the darkness.

Players one and two look like they’re entering adjacent toilet cubicles.

So here we are with another example of that arcade staple the gun shooter. Lost Land Adventure is just the same as everything else in the last 20 years of the genre, but more so. In particular, the “more” is the screen. The “spherical display” is a three-metre curved projection with two seats in front of it in the darkness of the cabinet’s little room. A massive projector unit juts out between the seats, though, so if you entered the darkness for some two-player co-op (*ahem*) you might be better off with the more blatantly date-focused Let’s Go Jungle.

The screen is big and round, and since neither player can sit in the middle of it with that projector in the way, everything looks a bit bulbous and distorted. Straight lines like the warnings notice and cutscene subtitles look especially warped. It’s not a big deal when you play, but this isn’t exactly life-changing tech here.

 

Desperation

I’ve moaned before about the lack of innovation in gun shooters since Virtua Cop in 1995. I felt quite justified in that impression when strolling through Virtualand in Singapore last month and seeing samey movie tie-in cabinets with samey machine guns and turrets in front of them. It reminded me of the rash of crummy movie-licenses in the 80s. Transformers, Rambo — it’s even the same properties!

And Lost Land Adventure is as sure a sign as any of the desperation for innovation in the gun shooter genre. Shooters never get the groups hanging out on them for a night like the racing and rhythm action machines do. They’re just not cool. They’re fun — a good way to kill time until your next turn on maimai or Ridge Racer — but just not cool.

Maybe it’s because they’re non-competitive and limited to two players. If that’s the case then Gunslinger Stratos seems like a very smart move, but the price of addressing those shortcomings was insane complexity. Gunstra’s arguably not even a gun shooter any more — it’s disappearing down a rabbit hole. I love it for it, but I’ll be amazed if it catches on.

So Lost Land Adventure brings this huge screen to the table, but it’s not all that effective. The targets are imaginative, but not groundbreaking, and the most memorable part of the game is definitely the obnoxious grey-ponytailed doofus who leads you out on the adventure and bumbles around setting off booby traps and releasing hordes of spiders while you two do all the work to stay alive.

This was a premium game, costing six Virtualand credits per person per play. Being Virtualand, the total 12 credits were admittedly only £3, but it’s still a lot more than most other games. (And yeah, Tokyo Game Centre was actually from Singapore this week.)

Even pulling in premium rates, Lost Land Adventure is going to be a hard sell for arcade owners optimising their city-centre square-footage. You could fit at least three other cabinets in the space of this monster. I’d rather have the other three.

 

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