I went to Tokyo in April. I knew from the very first time that I will be visiting many of the VR arcade centers in Tokyo. However, above all, I was interested in checking out HADO Dodgeball, an on-location, competitive team-based AR arcade game.
HADO (HADO Digital Dodgeball is the full name of the game) is an AR sports game developed by Meleap Inc. In fact, when I visited the Hado arena at The 3rd Planet arcade gaming venue in Tokyo, there were two experiences there: Hado Kart and Hado Digital Dodgeball (PvP). The first one is a Mario Kart-like game in AR, the second is the team-based action sports game. Meleap calls that AR sports game Techno Sports.
I didn’t try the Kart game and went straight to what I was interested most, playing Hado Dodgeball. There are also other Hado games (although not presented in that particular arcade place), including Hado Shoot and Hado Monster Battle, but those weren’t available in the arcade center I was at.
In official competitions, the game consists of two teams of 3 players each, but it can be played 2-vs-2, what I did when I’ve played with Slam Diva.
Each player wears a Mounted Display (HMD). This means that a phone resides inside the helmet, with a see-through hole for the camera. Furthermore, each player wears an armband sensor which is basically a phone with dedicated software for motion gesture input and pre-game skill setting adjustment.
Before each fight, the player can spend 6 available points a between 4 available skill-sets: bullet speed, bullet scale, charge speed and shield strength.
The arena consists of two large rectangles sections for each team. Players need to stay on their side of the arena during the match.
Each player has four “life leaves” in front of him. To eliminate (KO) the player, the other player(s) need to remove all of those four objects by blasting them using virtual energy balls they through towards the player. If the player loses all of his life leaves, he is out of the game. Each team has six minutes to deal out as much damage as possible to the opponent team, ad the end, the team that has the most life wins.
Those energy balls travel quite slow, giving time for the other player to physically move to evade them or block them using a temporary shield that can be placed in front of the play.
The game has two main attack and defense controls. You put your right hand down and quickly lift it to the front to release the attack projectile fireball or do that with the other hand to create a shield in front of you. The shield needs to recharge. You do that by putting your arm vertically alongside your body in downward position, wait for it to completely recharge and bring it up fast to deploy a shield.
You can switch the hand controls by just putting the wearable hand device on the other hand.
Every defense and attack in the game requires using energy, if you are out of energy you can’t use any attack or defensive gesture. It’s up to the player to manage his resources well during the fight.
I haven’t completed editing my video, so meanwhile you can check out this gameplay video of Hado Spring Worldcup 2017 with SLAM DivA vs ランニングクラブ.
HADO is a tactical game, that requires precise strategy coordination between the teammates. You need to pay attention to what’s going on in the entire battlefield and combine strategies with your teammates to produce surprise attacks and defensive play.
Players need to pay close attention to what’s going on in the battlefield and try to predict the other player’s movements, rather than just shooting the energy ball straight towards him, which is predictable and easy to dodge.
The game is very physical and requires to be in physically fit, at least in you intend to become a professional player. I’ve played the game just a few rounds and I definitely had to make a break after just a few rounds to take some breath and recover. I didn’t even make any intensive physical dodge movement, so just imagine a player getting down on the floor, moving fast from one point to the other, it takes way more physical effort.
Oh, by the way, you don’t need to use your phone or bring anything to the arcade venue, just yourself. The goggles and the wearable device have a phone embedded in them already.
Before we move on, check out these pictures that I took when I attended Hado arena in The 3rd Planet arcade venue.
Playing with SLAM DIVA Team
When I arrived at “The 3rd Planet” amusement arcade where the Hado arena resides, I met up with some three other people. I had no idea that there were professional HADO players.
I looked at their accessories and the way the did some stretching prior to playing, so I asked them whether they are professional players—they said yes.
Those three players were players from a HADO professional team called “SLAM DIVA”. I later found out that Slam Diva team won the HADO World Cup 2017! (you can visit their pages on Twitter and on Studio LiveX.
They were so kind and asked me to join and play them. At that moment I was just observing not knowing what to do. I paid 500 yen in the machine, got a ticket and went on the floor to play with them.
They introduce the game to me, showed me hot to wear the equipment, how to adjust the game’s settings and how to play the HADO game itself.
I felt so welcomed and they really made my stay fun and exciting.
After a few moments, we start playing together. I obviously wasn’t in shape nor experience to making any significant play that will help my team win (we played 2-vs-2), but it doesn’t matter, the matter was that I had fun, so much fun!
Viewing HADO as a Spectator
You probably ask yourself, how can a spectator actually enjoy watching an augmented reality game where the virtual cannot be seen directly?
Well, the only option that I’ve seen that a spectator can see the can with the virtual content is through an LCD screen that was positioned both inside and outside the arena. It gives you a perspective of the entire fight using wide-angle cameras, as well as streames the player’s view as he sees it through his own AR goggles.
I haven’t seen any external AR goggles for spectators. If there aren’t ones already, I’m positive that someone will introduce this in the near future. This way, I can sit in the crown and watch the game with all the virtual content and effects by looking straight towards the arena, rather than seeing the fight through a screen.
The game is fun to watch as it is fun to play. The pace is really good for spectating, making the viewing experience comfortable and exciting and I think this is yet another reason why HADO has become so popular and attracts so many players and viewers alike.
Gameplay Fun Factor
HADO is by far the most entertaining Augmented Reality game I have ever played, ever! and also the most exciting Arcade game at “The 3rd Planet Arcade” at Tama Center Tokyo.
I really love competitive multiplayer games, but most of the game that I’ve played where either in Virtual Reality (VR) or on my PlayStation 4.
HADO for me was an entirely new experience. There are some AR multiplayer games that I’ve played, but non of them were even close to something like this.
The main reason Hado felt so exciting is that it was the first time I was able to play an augmented reality game hands-free and fully enjoy playing with comfortable physical movement around the gameplay space.
Like many other sports activities, you really feel that satisfaction after putting physical effort into it. Sweating is part of the experience, so make sure you come ready with another short just in case. Well, you can play it very casually and don’t put effort, but part of the fun is getting into the game and trying your best to make sure your team wins. Just standing there and spamming shield won’t do the trick, and eventually, you’ll need to move, and quite a lot, especially if you play against a team who knows what it’s doing.
I can definitely see AR as a fantastic enhancer of sports activities. I personally prefer playing an AR game like HADO than running on a treadmill in the gym. You do sports activities and have lots of social and gaming enjoyment at the same time.
It’s definitely different than playing a game like this in VR. You are not restricted being in front of a screen, and you are well aware of the environment and the people playing with you in the real world. You can also move freely inside the environment and you are not connected to any external hardware, just wearing lightweight and comfortable goggles and a wristband.
It’s also amazing seeing all the digital visual effects combined into the real world view.
HADO can definitely take on the world by storm as it has all the needed elements to attract millions of players worldwide.
Special Thanks to My Friends from SLAM DIVA
I can’t end this post without giving HUGE special thanks to everyone from SLAM DIVA.
I told you this in person, but I will repeat it again. You made this day so exciting, special and emotional for me. I had such a great time playing with you and you made my introduction to HADO such a fantastic experience.
I remember leaving the place with a big smile on my face. I just didn’t know how to thank you, because what I felt no words can describe.
I become SLAM DIVA fan straight away. They even gave me a HADO sticker present when they’ve heard that I came specifically to this place to check out HADO.
I will never forget this experience. When I come to Tokyo again, I’m sure will make time to meet you again, and hopefully play with you again. I know I was a bit shy, but trust me when I say it, inside, I was thrilled and happy with excitement, something that you might not necessarily see from the outside. So again, Thank you so much, my friends, I will never forget you.
I really wanted to attend Hado Spring Cupe 2018 competition on the 21st but other urgent things required my attention.
If you aren’t already aware of what Hado is, I highly recommend checking out meleap.com website (I linked to the English version of the website).
If you are in Japan, you have to give yourself this amazing opportunity to try out Hado yourself. I’ve played the game on The 3rd Planet, but there are two more places in Japan where you can try it, one in Wakabachō and the other one called VREX in Shibuya, Tokyo.
There are also other Hado arenas worldwide, including, USA, Singapore, Spain, Vietnam, Malaysia and South Korea (I am going to check the ones in Seoul very soon as I am there at the moment).
Also, don’t forget to check out the upcoming HADO competition and events and become a fan of the team you like best (No matter what happens, I am SLAM DIVA fan for life!).
Hado Dodgeball was by far my best Augmented Reality experience and this is a must experience for everyone who loves AR, VR or Mixed Reality, love arcade games or just love gaming in general.
I also want to thank, Shearty, the manager of Slam Diva and Japan’s Meleap for developing and bringing us such a fantastic augmented reality-based sports game.
Don’t forget to subscribe to Meleap HADO channel on YouTube and go there to see some great previous game matches.
Update May 3rd, 2018: HADO receives our Editor’s Choice Award!
P.S. I’ve based this information solely on my experience and some information that I”ve read online. Some things might not be fully accurate or complete. For and updated information, I recommend visiting the official Meleap.com website. Thanks.