Wedding VR, a marriage simulator created by Japan-based game studio Voltage Inc., came to the Oculus Store and Steam recently. In it, you become a bride-to-be, replete with wedding dress, bouquet and impossibly tiny hands only fit for a character transported from manga/anime and realized in 3D. “Who is this for?” you may ask—apparently fans of Voltage’s prolific ‘romance games’, a genre of dating sim decidedly focused on males as the object of amorous pursuit. The fact that it’s subbed in English and is also featured on Western-facing digital store fronts means we get to say something about it though.
Featured front and center on the Oculus Store today are three Wedding VR titles, each featuring a different anime hunk of your choosing; Yamato Kougami – a modern heartthrob, Henry A. Spencer – a European prince, and Masamune Date – a Japanese warrior general.
Take your pick, because the end effect is always the same – a beautiful sunset casting its warm yellow glow on the face of your new anime husband. To get there though, you’ll have to navigate chat bubbles like traditional dating sims.
While this may be the cheapest marriage you’ll ever have at $8 per experience, I can’t really recommend it. Had these been free experiences, this would be a fun opportunity to pop in for a drive-by wedding, and soak in a genre I frankly have never had interest in playing before, or even just to see a small side of Japanese culture that is often vilified for being out of touch with reality. While reality isn’t subjective, our experiences of it are, so I’m definitely not judging lifestyle choices here.
On its own merits, none of the experiences are really worth $8. Object interaction is null, there’s no user-controlled locomotion, and there isn’t a way to respond using the microphone – only text bubbles activated by a gaze cursor that frankly belongs back on its flatscreen counterpart. There’s also the issue of seeing the biologically disproportionate figure of an anime character rendered in real life. To me, Masamune (the Samurai) seemed about 7 feet tall, and had 3-feet wide shoulders.
Pushing past the utter strangeness of an anime marriage simulator and the obvious caveats of a 2D-style dating sim bootstrapped to VR, what’s interesting here is we’re witnessing some of the first steps of some pretty well-established studios getting into VR, companies with very specific goals of creating human-to-AI intimacy. Voltage says its Wedding VR titles had crowds lining up “for over 90 minutes” to get a chance to play at last year’s Tokyo Game Show (TGS)—a testament to the curiosity behind stepping to a world an interacting with an anime character seemingly ripped from the world of fantasy.
At its current stage, it’s more of an advertisement for the company’s bread and butter content—its flatscreen romance games—but we’ll continue to watch this space to see just what comes out of it. And yes, there’s already been a few anime marriages in VR.