Back in 2016, when Shin Godzilla was released, there were quite a few promotional tie-ins. I covered many of the food-related promotional tie-ins, such as the Lotteria version of fun meal toys, the Butamen noodles, and the Godzilla vs. Evangelion snack box. One of the most interesting tie-ins, though, took place at Namja Town, an indoor amusement park in Ikebukuro that targets youngsters. Namjatown (or Namja Town – ナムコ・ナンジャタウン) has a host of mascot furry animals and swaps out attractions regularly, which are often related to popular anime properties. They are also notable for their ice cream shops and pot sticker restaurants.
All of these attractions came under the bubble of the Godzilla invasion, in addition to lots of merch—including some cookies which I reviewed years ago for Toho Kingdom. Because of my friend, who came along and helped me document the experience, I tried out almost all of the goodies at Namjatown available at the time, as well as played the Godzilla AR game over and over and over again until we won!
Godzilla AR Game
The Godzilla AR game was possibly the biggest attraction, so perhaps we should start with that—which means I should probably explain a bit about how all that works. So when you come into Namjatown, there are a couple of different kinds of tickets you can purchase. One is basically just an entrance fee which does not include most of the rides—if you want to jump on a ride, you have to pay extra. The other is a straight price that includes all the rides. My friend and I went for the latter so we could just play anything and everything without worrying about laying down cash every time. We tried several of the attractions in addition to Godzilla, such as a Yokai Watch obstacle course thing that incorporated handheld screens, and a zombie machine game that, if you lose, takes a picture of your face and turns you into a zombie on a display monitor outside the attraction. (News alert: We lost.)
Also if you go to the restroom, it’s haunted… which means that as you are tinkling or otherwise occupied with restroom business, you can listen to ghost stories over the PA system. The scary-stories-while-you-pee attraction was one of the free ones.
Anyway, the Godzilla Augmented Reality Game was one of the not-free ones. That meant we had to show our ticket or flimsy paper band every time we went through to play.
The Godzilla AR game (roughly titled: Godzilla Attack: Sortie! G-Force) was a four-player experience. I only came with one friend, so we ended up playing with strangers every time, and that could mean disaster depending on the experience and skill of the others (often little kids) jumping in alongside you.
Unfortunately, pictures weren’t allowed inside the game space, but we all got to wear cool augmented reality headsets (with even cooler helmets if you wanted to be extra awesome), as well as some sort of glove device, which would prove to be your zappy blaster weapon. When we went in to battle Godzilla, everyone entered a fake elevator. Inside the elevator we got a screen with a military guy explaining our mission to train to fight Godzilla. He explained how our advanced super weapons systems worked, and he was very dramatic about our dramatic upcoming confrontations and so forth. Most impressive for me was that English was provided! The entire mission (and the instructions for how to play the game) was explained with both Japanese and English.
So the way the game worked was essentially like this: Each member of your team went to one of four stations, spaced out so you wouldn’t end up hitting each other while fighting Godzilla. The staff helped us put on our headsets and optional helmets and the aforementioned power glove. The AR headset was similar to a VR headset, but we could still see the world around us. However, also just like with popular AR game Pokemon Go, the game elements would be superimposed over the real world elements. What those game elements were I will explain in a little bit.
First, let me give a little more context. The space in which we played the game had a fake, perhaps literally cardboard city set up, painted dark to appear like a night city. The city buildings couldn’t really be destroyed as part of the game, then, but they provided a context for the action.
The first couple minutes of the game was a tutorial in which we faced off against a computer-generated Godzilla. I mean, later the “real” Godzilla would also be computer-generated, but this training-version one was deliberately made to look fake (I think it was all bright green), and we practiced shooting the fake Godzilla first. The way that we shot, or rather the way it was originally explained, was that we punched the air to fire, as if we were shooting plasma blasts out of our fists. To aim, you simply trained the aiming reticule in your AR headset where you wanted to shoot. This immediately caused problems because if you punched the air with any force, the action would tend to jiggle the headset, making the shots wildly inaccurate. To compensate for this, after the first round, I stopped punching the air and just flexed my arm each time I wanted to shoot, which made me much more accurate in my shots.
In order to do the most damage, we were supposed to shoot at Godzilla’s head. You could also shoot his body, but it wouldn’t do as much damage. While fighting Godzilla, sometimes blimps would appear flying across the airspace. Shooting the blimps would provide a powered-up plasma blast for a limited time. We also had to watch Godzilla’s actions, because sometimes he would chomp at us or blast at us with his atomic breath, at which point we were supposed to duck.
Anyway, after learning the basics in the training, pretty soon we hear a warning siren and the real Godzilla ambushes us from the back of the training field. Godzilla had a huge lifebar and slowly approached us while roaring and attacking. It took a long time to drain his life meter, and as he got closer, he got so huge he really filled up the screens on the AR headsets, and it got really chaotic. It was also pretty difficult, frankly, to beat Godzilla. My friend and I played the game several times in succession, losing over and again. I can’t remember now how many times we played (maybe five?) before we finally won, which felt pretty awesome. Also while you are playing, you get a score for how well you do. My friend beat me the first round, but then I beat her in every subsequent round, and for a while I had the highest score on the scoreboard for the day. It didn’t last, but it felt good while it did!
Godzilla Food Items
…Then there was the food.
Note that I only went to Namja Town once. The cross-promotion at the park was very successful, to the point that it was extended and an additional dessert featuring Kamata-kun was released to complement the original six dishes. I did not go back just to try the Kamata-kun dish… but I did try all six of the other ones, mostly because my friend was with me and helped encourage me to just do it!
A big part of Namjatown consists of a series of small restaurants. Reviews I saw online highlighted especially the pot sticker restaurants and the ice cream shops, which apparently have many, many flavors. The day I went, I was just there for the Godzilla food and desserts, each of which came with a collectible sticker.
I started with the meals, and ended with the desserts, and just like Mama always told you as a kid, that was definitely the way to go. Let’s go through each of the six I tried.
The Mechagodzilla taco featured the original Mechagodzilla, and to create the Mechagodzilla face blasting his zappy ray, the chefs came up with the brilliant method of… cutting out some paper and putting it on the dish. Like, really thin paper. Maybe it was tapioca paper or something, but it had the consistency of paper and was tasteless. The effect was not very convincing either unless you looked from just the right angle. (This one my friend mostly ate—but it was pretty underwhelming.)
The King Ghidorah curry pilaf was basically curried rice shaped like KG, with little paper heads on each neck, and wings made from egg. Presumably because each dish had to be (I guess?) hand crafted into its shape, or maybe just because the King Ghidorah shape doesn’t hold in heat very well, the dish cools off in a jiffy. I like curry, but this still wasn’t great.
The worst of the three “meals,” however, was the Godzilla foot with pot sticker toes. The foot was made from rice with tons of black food coloring to make it taste nasty, and the pot stickers are actually quite small and are cut in half! You might think you have four pot stickers in the dish, but you actually get only two, and the whole thing is just yuck, including the impressively printed Shin Godzilla rice cracker.
The Mothra Larva ice cream thingee was better, but still not great. The pastry used for the body of the larva was a little bit dry, and I don’t recall being that impressed with the side items, either. Still, it was a mildly pleasant dessert, and it looked enough like the real monster to pass.
The Mothra Imago was much better, but unfortunately I didn’t get my own. My friend got one and shared a little with me. Perhaps most impressive is just the depiction of Mothra, which looks quite good, even if it didn’t stick together very well. I loved that it had a Tokyo Tower and twin fairies as well.
The last one I tried was the Godzilla ice cream, with a big chocolate Shin Godzilla on top and a mix of chocolate and berry ice cream. This one was probably my favorite. Sweet and delicious, and with a very cool Godzilla-shaped topper, this was worth the wait, and we both got one and enjoyed them together.
In addition to the AR game and the various snacks, there were also many Namja Town souvenirs, some of which I reviewed previously. All that is to say, the Namjatown crossover was a big success and pretty fun for fans, but also very clearly aimed at little kids. At first I was afraid to go to the event by myself because I thought the local Japanese would consider me a pervert for frolicking in a kid-centric amusement park, so I was really thankful when my friend offered to go with me. While I wish I had a chance to try the Kamata-Kun parfait as well, it was hard for me to justify a return trip just to munch one more monster snack, especially since the previous ones were so hit or miss. Still, I am super thankful for the chance to have had the experiences I did—especially the chance to play the Godzilla AR game, which probably no one will ever get to play again. Thank you for reading!
Note: On the same day, I got to check out the huge Godzilla foot smashing through the roof in the mall!