The Most Incredibly Immersive Arcade Machines of All Time

Today, Home Leisure Direct is celebrating the most immersive arcade machines known to man. These are the games that you don’t just play…you experience them on a deeper level. You’re not just staring at a screen or pushing a button; you are right there in that jungle, or outer space, or haunted house. You are actually transported into a virtual world, and there’s no return until you see the dreaded GAME OVER screen. These are the arcade machines so immersive that they put any home console attempts to shame. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of the best of the best (in no particular order). Have you played experienced any of these?

Star Wars Battle Pod and Mach Storm Jet Fighter are the next evolutionary step in “cockpit” games where the player has to enter a booth or vehicle in order to engage the game. Older arcade goers will remember the original Star Wars Arcade cabinet that came out in 1983—what a thrill that was! But it’s 2015 and with a dome-shaped screen that encapsulates the player, seats and joysticks that vibrate, and bursts of air hitting the player as explosions blast onscreen, these two brand new games are like the IMAX experience of video games.

Valkyrie 4D-7D Motion Simulator is not just a motion simulator where you’re only along for the ride. No, this is an actual arcade game that seats up to 8 players and divides them into two teams—offensive and defensive positions, as shown on the room’s split-screen setup. Players are armed with light guns for shooting the hordes of enemies coming at them. It’s a wild ride of motion, strobe lights, and wind effects all rolled into one amazing package. There are many motion simulators and 4D games out there, but nothing like this!

The Police 911 series by Konami tracks full-body motion of the player, allowing for awesome moments of dodging bullets. Humble beginnings can be traced back to the Time Crisis series where the player stomped on a pedal to duck for cover, but Police 911 takes it to a whole new level. And it does it well—the full-body motion trackers are surprisingly accurate. Konami is also responsible for MoCap Boxing, which pits the player against various boxing competitors, much like Nintendo’s Punch-Out series. It one-ups the console competition by allowing the player to dodge and punch in a real-time, full-body motion system. Great fun and very tiring!

Race car simulators almost go as far back as arcades themselves. A classic example is Sega’s Hang-On, which came out in 1985 and had the player “ride” a motorbike and tilt it in order to steer. Today’s race car simulators are very sophisticated and expensive versions of the same experience—immersing the player in a racing situation without the real-world dangers of crashing. Some people say today’s simulators are even more realistic than the real thing. Look no further than GTS RS’s ex-BTCC Vauxhall Full Car Racing Simulator for the perfect example of where this technology is currently at. And yes, you read that right: it’s a full car simulator.

The Beach Head 2000 series was originally released on computers, but Global VR bought the rights to release these three games in arcades as virtual reality experiences. A player puts the sci-fi helmet on and is instantly transported to a beach where enemies are coming at you from all directions. The helmet is capable of turning 360° so that the player can swivel his or her head back and forth to aim and shoot at all advancing enemies. Oculus Rift is almost upon us in the year 2015, but up until now, you could only get an experience like this in the arcade.

The final entry in this list is not so much immersive for your senses, but rather, for your body. Prop Cycle by Namco Bandai has the player actually pedalling and manhandling a bike in order to steer the onscreen avatar through a timed race of popping balloons in mid-air. It seems like a simple setup at first, but after just one round, your whole body will feel the effort you put into the game. You’ll suddenly realise that you didn’t just play a game about cycling; you actually cycled yourself. You and your avatar have become one!

We hope you enjoyed this list of ingeniously immersive arcade machines. Do you know of any ones we failed to mention? Comment below and share your most fond memories of being immersed in an arcade game.

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