As I was perusing Quest App Lab for interesting games, a VR manga app priced at a whopping $145 caught my eye. Surely it must have been a mistake… or a scam?

While we’ve seen pricey apps on Quest’s official unlisted ‘App Lab’ store before, almost all of them are some sort of medical or training app that’s not intended for general audiences. So when I saw the XR MANGA Fist of the North Star app as the third most expensive app in App Lab I thought for sure it was some kind of mistake or maybe even a scam.

But actually it turns out to be a completely legitimate, and actually quite interesting, offering.

While we’ve seen a handful of ‘read comics or manga in VR’ apps in the past, XR MANGA Fist of the North Star isn’t a generic reader app, but actually a complete VR digital collection of one of the best selling manga series of all time, Fist of the North Star (also known as Hokuto no Ken), originally run from 1983 to 1988.

Developer MEDIA DO says that XR MANGA Fist of the North Star includes 18 volumes which contain everything in the 27 standard edition volumes of the manga series, along with “additional episodes” written by Tetsuo Hara, the illustrator of the series.

Image courtesy MEDIA DO Co.

And while $145 is similar to what you’d pay for the corresponding physical collection of Fist of the North Star, this VR version contains a surprising number of additional features and content suitable for mega-fans of the series.

For one, the developer says the digitized images come from the original artwork and are presented at a resolution that’s “much higher than the printed [version].” Given the age of the manga, the original artwork is hand-drawn, shaded, and painted, and the developers say “no matter how far the image is enlarged, the brush strokes of [illustrator] Tetsuo Hara’s brush are clearly rendered.” While Quest 2 definitely lacks the resolution to resolve all that detail at arm’s length (as you’d read a real manga), if you bring your face closer in you should be able to see the full extent of the detail.

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Beyond that, this VR version of Fist of the North Star has immersive backdrops that correspond to the story and change as you progress through the chapters.

That’s cool, and maybe even expected from a VR manga app, but XR MANGA Fist of the North Star goes a couple steps further. Also included in the app is two digital figures of characters Kenshiro and Yuria, both of which can be posed by the reader. What’s more, you can change the backdrop and add speech bubbles & text to create your own little scene, then use an in-app camera tool to snap the scene as if making your own manga panel.

And this is the part where in an infomercial they’d say “but wait, there’s more!”

XR MANGA Fist of the North Star also includes a mini-game that lets players step into the shoes of main character Kenshiro and act out some actions that are characteristic of the manga.

So, for the price of $145 (about what you’d pay for the physical collection), you’re getting the complete manga and some cool digital extras. For mega-fans of the series, I’d say that’s actually a solid deal.

But if I were buying this app I’d definitely have some hesitation…

For one, as novel as it can be to have immersive backdrops, it’s really not that comfortable to read in a VR headset; are you really going to read 18 volumes all in VR? Sure, maybe in the future we have lighter and more comfortable headsets… but that brings up another important question: if one is going to spend $145 on a digital collection, what are the odds that 10 years from now it’s still accessible on modern headsets?

To assure customers, it would be nice if buying the XR MANGA Fist of the North Star also included a digital download of the manga images so users could back them up on their own to be sure they’re always accessible—or even read them outside of VR if they’d like.

In any case, XR MANGA Fist of the North Star is certainly interesting as far as VR apps go. Is it a one-off novelty or a taste of things to come?

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  • Valhallen

    Lmao what tf vr is dying

    • Nah, I don’t see it like that.

      But £145 – that’s clearly too much for mainstream users.

      • Valhallen

        Hell yea it is, shet is wack asf

  • Tommy

    While cool, I would never pay that amount for the actual manga or the VR version. I hope they find an audience though.

    • Arno van Wingerde

      I cannot see them selling more than a handful at this price point… which will hurt their bottom line and make them reluctant to ever try VR again. Too bad, since it does have original possibilities for creating your own Manga.

    • RobotKittenLasers

      It’s around $5 per volume, which would be a very good price for the actual physical manga – just how much cheaper do you expect them to go?

      • Tommy

        Maybe if you could buy one at a time or small bundles it would seem more appealing

  • Cool… but… $145… I’m too poor for that lol

  • Ad

    We need to figure out how to make reading work well in VR.

    • Sven Viking

      Varifocal would help a lot, but comfort would also need to prove for people to want to do it.

  • Nevets

    $145? You’ve got to be flaming joking

  • Keng Yuan Chang

    Looking back, Fist Of The North Stars definitely was influenced by Bruce Lee and Mad Max, very creative, an original in its own right.

  • TechnoHunter

    That is still ridiculous for the price for VR growth with how it is evolving with existing pop culture.

  • Just a Cool Guy

    If I’m shelling out $145 for an APP I’d much much much rather go like….BUY the copies that I can keep, loan, resell, and whatever the heck else.

    • Jonathan Winters III

      This. In 20 years, your digital copies will most likely be lost or unopenable.

  • Tabp

    The last thing I expected to find when clicking on a link about a $145 app was it having $145 worth of content. Having higher resolution images than the printed version is the key selling point. However, the concern about future headset support is valid, since this is a quest app and being limited to what Facebook allows you to run it on is an inherent problem with Facebook’s ecosystem.

    • Dave

      The last thing I expected to find when clicking on a link about a $145 app was it having $145 worth of content.

      LOL is this a joke? Do you realise how stupid this sounds?

  • Grog

    It would make much more sense for them to sell the base app with one comic for 10$ or 15$ and then have an option to buy other issues inside the app.
    Expecting users to just pay $145, without even testing the app first, is ridiculous.

  • Danno

    They should probably be selling this primarily as a “flat” package with some VR goodies included.