SAN FRANCISCO—For years, we’ve put one particular item on our annual Game Developers Conference itinerary: the most elaborate and inconvenient game controllers this side of a Japanese arcade.
Every year, international teams submit their craziest hardwired contraptions to GDC’s Alt.Ctrl Competition, and the winners get massive booth space to let passersby grab, smack, pull, and sit on whatever custom rigs the teams have dreamed up.
To be clear: most of these will likely never launch at either arcades or for home purchase. That’s not surprising, though I would probably pay for a Hellcouch conversion kit if it existed, just to mess with house guests. (A few creators hinted at releasing their work as downloads to be applied to build-it-yourself kits, but I didn’t find any yet released for the above games in my cursory search.)
Additionally, Google and Bandai Namco unveiled a surprise that may look familiar to avid Ars Technica readers: a smartphone version of . This augmented reality game launched as a limited Hololens-arcade game in Japan last year, and it turned its players into Pac-People who had to walk around in real space to gobble yellow pellets and avoid ghosts. (Basically, it’s a real-life approximation of the arcade original.) Now, this former Hololens exclusive works by holding up a smartphone, turning on its camera, and calibrating the game by aiming at a floor mat.
The resulting smartphone game plays just like the one we saw last year, only with an easier viewpoint than the original Hololens’ tiny field-of-view. (Instead, you get to hold one of Bandai Namco’s silly, not-really-necessary Pac-Rigs.) As goofy as the game may look in the above gallery, I swear it was more fun in action. That said, I’d love for Bandai Namco and Google to update the game (which has no public release date) to support a larger floor space. I almost ran into my opponents multiple times in our cramped quarters.
In addition to that demo, we also took a peek at a retro-minded exhibit and GDC’s annual Experimental Gameplay Workshop. The below gallery includes highlights from both of those.