We would like to thank SCRAP, Yushi Han and Tiffany Lim for the invite and Michael Lie for the photos!
Do you enjoy real life room escape games like those by Mystery Manila or Outbreak Manila? Are you currently in Tokyo or are going to Japan anytime soon? If your answer to either is ‘yes’, then boy have I got news for you: SCRAP Corporation, in cooperation with Eplus Inc. and Nippon Broadcasting System Inc. are launching the Tokyo Mystery Circus, the world’s first dedicated facility for room escape games.
With over 9 years of experience in creating room escape games, SCRAP is the genre’s largest creator of games globally and one of its earliest pioneers. Tokyo Mystery Circus is their largest domestic venture yet, boasting more games in one location than in any of their other facilities. I was lucky enough to be invited to tag along for their private preview where we tried out three of the games on offer that were playable in English.
How were they? Well, for a first timer to the genre I’d say they were pretty damned amazing. Tokyo Mystery Circus’ use of diverse themes, novel applications of technology and overall great production made for a very entertaining experience I wish we could show everyone videos of.
But we can’t, because, spoilers. Just take my word for it as I try to explain how awesome it was without ruining it for everyone.
Game Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wC1swNSYqc
Players: Up to 5 Players per Table
Group (5pax): 14,500yen
Student: 2,800yen (Only applicable on weekdays)
The first game we tried out is one of their newer offerings, Spellbound Supper. The setup is simple: you and four other friends (in our case, three) have been invited to dinner by an evil witch. As with anything that involve the words ‘evil’ and ‘witch’, however, things get dicey very quickly: guests are given an hour to solve a series of puzzles to discover or, in some cases, help prepare the dishes the witch is cooking up. Succeed and you’re served dinner. Fail to do so before time runs out and you’re turned into mice.
Of the three games we were told we’d be trying out, this was the one I was least excited about. Sitting around a table solving riddles isn’t really my cup of tea and I’d much rather have been up and about. Fortunately, my apprehensions were very quickly dispelled (heh). The mood of the game is immediately set upon stepping out of the elevator: the waiting area looks like the reception area of a fancy banquet, the staff look the part dressed as servers, and the game room proper’s decor and sound scream “Magical Dinner”.
The game showcases projection mapping technology as its main draw—digital animation is projected onto the table and players must interact with the projections using the many different objects given to them to solve the puzzles. Magical rings, for example, can cast spells on wherever its wearer places their hands on. Magic wands can be flicked in certain ways to cast several different spells. I’m a pretty jaded dude, but I actually felt like Harry Potter for a hot second. It was incredible.
The puzzles themselves were very challenging. Had it not been for the hints the servers gave us whenever it seemed like we were completely stumped, we may have not gotten as far as we did at all. We got about as far as the last bit before running out of time. Of the five or six teams that participated in our round, only one managed to complete every puzzle, making the rest of us feel very stupid.
The Secret Agent: Destroy the Ultimate Weapon
Official Game Site: https://mysterycircus.jp/realstealthgame2/
Team Up with Other Walk-in Guests: 4,100yen
Continue: 800yen per 10 minutes
Their other new attraction is The Secret Agent: Destroy the Ultimate Weapon, which was the game I was looking forward to the most. Here you play the role of an elite spy and instead of escaping a room, you’re tasked with infiltrating one. Players have half an hour to get to the center of a facility divided into several rooms to disarm a bomb. In each room, players must find hidden computer terminals and hack them to discover the password to the door leading to the next area. The challenge is the facility is packed with armed guards, booby traps, and laser sensors that players must sneak past lest they incur a time penalty, shortening the time limit and narrowing their chances of succeeding.
Metal Gear fans will love the hell out of this game. The spy organization you work for is called G.O.A.T. with fellow agents called ‘Crow’ and ‘Zebra’. Segments of the game will have you hiding inside lockers or under beds, and even navigating through spinning blades of death. After sitting for an hour wracking my head over riddles, I was content to leaving my teammates to do all the thinking. I was ready to go Solid Snake on this thing. Bring on the physical challenges.
I got shot by an armed guard once and tripped on the same booby trap twice. I may or may not have accidentally tripped something where the nuke was as well. We messed up a lot and wound up losing time in the process. Fortunately, the game allows a ten minute extension for 900 yen if you’re determined to see it through to the end. We used one continue and somehow managed to get to the end. Not a great showing. Fortunately, they allow replays. I swear, I am going to own this game next time.
Escape from the Prison
Solo Play: 1,400yen
After trying their newer offerings, our last game was a welcome classic. Escape from the Prison is self-explanatory: break out of your cell using the hints and tools found inside. We’ve taken a bit of a beating at this point and had other commitments to attend to in the evening, so it was a relief to know the game was designed to play very quickly. A time limit of ten minutes to complete the game is imposed, which makes the game tense, frenetic, and perfect for anyone who only has a little bit of time to kill. Fumbling around the cell finding one clue that leads to another was an entertaining experience, enhanced further by the staff dressed as prison wardens who were more than happy to ham up the role.
Fans of room escape games owe it to themselves to try out Tokyo Mystery Circus. The games are challenging, the production is amazing and of course, it’s fun. More games are being prepared in English as of this writing, including a detective game set in Tokyo with art that give off some really strong Persona vibes. They hope to have it ready sometime next year and I’m sure as hell going to be playing it.
Tokyo Mystery Circus opened to the public on December 19, 2017. It is located at Kabukicho, Shinjuku beside the Bandai Namco VR Center. It’s a 2 minute walk from the Seibu-Shinjuku Station and a 7 minute walk from the JR Shinjuku Station’s West Exit. For more details, check out their website at https://mysterycircus.jp