The ESC Game Theater is quite the set-up. Allowing up to 30 different players at once, the movie theater-sized screen lets everyone game at the same time. What’s it like playing on such a big screen with so many others? Surprisingly easy and definitely fun.
During my time in the ESC Game Theater, I had the opportunity to try out three different games: a basketball game, a soccer game and a football game. Each is relatively simple, and they have to be. Anyone can grab a controller and get playing in just a few seconds. Most games involved moving and performing an action, some are even simpler than that.
Teams are divided up with half of one room on one team, and the other half looking to take them on. The basketball game, fittingly called Robot Basketball, sees players take on the roles of robots, zipping around on a selection of different paths. Players tilt the special controller you’re given (a modified iPod Touch) to rotate the robot, and press the action button to suck up basketballs and shoot them into the hoops scattered across the map.
This game was fun, and using your teammates helps secure the win. Passing balls back and forth charge them up, and getting charged balls into baskets gets you more points. While this one can get a little chaotic due to you not being in control of where your character is moving, it’s still easy to see where you are with a quick shake of the controller, which will pop your player number up onto the screen.
Things got a bit more complex with the soccer game, called Cube Ball. Players control cubes that must move around a soccer field and score points. It’s possible to kick the ball, carry it into the goal (that’s shaped like a mouth for some reason) or just roll yourself into the mouth/goal. This game was the most fun of the three, offering some competitive head-to-head action that you didn’t get when you were a robot zipping around on a track.
The last game was the football game, Feudal Football. This featured a medieval theme, with players starting out as peasants looking to get the pigskin into their team’s endzone. Upgrades in the form of doughnuts can be consumed to turn peasants into knights, wizards and archers, each with their own special abilities. Once you get control of the ball, players can pass to anyone within their line of sight, or try and run with it themselves. If one team touches all four corners of the field, a dragon swoops down over the field, killing everyone on the opposing team. If you die, you restart back in your team’s starting area as a peasant.
Each game is simple out of necessity. When shuffling people through the ESC Theater, you need to have games that anyone can pick up and play within seconds. Skill is important, but with so much simplicity anyone can put together a decent performance and contribute to the team. The one exception to this is the football game, where if you have one skilled player who knows what he or she is doing, that player can dominate an entire game.
Half of the fun of the ESC Game Theater is also the environment you’re playing in. There are so many lights and sounds to go along with playing, and at the end of each game, the highest scorer for the round gets bathed in a spotlight of glory. It’s an exciting thing to just be around, and even more fun to participate in.
There are more games in the ESC Game Theater that I didn’t have the opportunity to play, so if you see one in a mall near you, give it a try. Only one location is in operation right now (in Paramus, NJ if you happen to live nearby), but expansion is coming for other areas of the country.
So what do you think? Are you interested in trying out the ESC Game Theater for yourself? What games do you want to try out for the 30-person gaming system? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.