Some days ago, Disney has released Coco VR, an experience dedicated to the Coco movie, which was announced during the Oculus Connect 4. Today I’ve tried it and I think that it is a fantastic companion VR experience for the movie.
Coco is a movie by Disney Pixar based on the Mexican holiday of Dia de Los Muertos (day of the dead people): inside this movie the main character is a 12-year-old Mexican guy named Miguel, who accidentally becomes a type of ghost and so seeks the help of his dead ancestors to return to his living family. It has been released in Mexico in October and in the US some days ago: the critics have highly praised it and in Mexico, it has become a very popular movie.
The VR experience, named Coco VR has been developed by Disney itself and inside that, you’re not Miguel, but a skeleton that visits the land of the dead.
As soon as I’ve launched it, I’ve immediately realized that it was a high-quality experience. Even the initial menu is very nice (even if it is not immersive in 3D as the one of Sneaky Bears for instance): the colors, the models, the UX, everything was very neat and with a coherent theme. I launched the single-player experience and immediately found myself inside the house of Miguel, where he was talking to me.
Again, the 3D graphics of this environment was great, but at this point, I was afraid that this VR experience could be only about being inside this house with Miguel talking with me. I couldn’t move or interact with anything… I didn’t even have my hands! I thought this was a Gear VR-like marketing experience and I was ready for boredom. I was proven wrong: this part has been very short and as soon as Miguel went to the other room, the true experience began.
And it began with a WOW-effect: I was in a room, with a mirror in front of me. I was a skeleton, with my full body! I had legs, hands, everything! Of course, since I was not using a full body VR system, but only a standard Rift setup, everything was calculated with inverse kinematics and the emulation was far from perfect. But I loved it anyway… I spent the first minutes dancing and moving in front of the mirror just to see how it was. Seeing myself in a mirror as the first thing in the experience made me clearly realize who I was: it immediately gave me an identity… and the full body emulation strengthened this identity. A great start… especially for a person like me that strongly believes in full body VR.
Then the experience clearly showed me another awesome thing about it: guidance. During all the experience there are some little animations appearing next to your right controller that tell you what to do and how to do that. The fact that they created some animations made super-easy to understand the instructions. Furthermore, objects that are interactive are clearly signed with a flower next to them. Movement is made with teleportation and offers some free areas of exploration around some predefined important spots. So you can teleport to an important spot, that is highlighted with a giant cyan arrow, and the freely move around (always with teleportation, though). Thanks to all this guidance mechanism, the experience doesn’t need a tutorial and I never felt stuck. I really appreciated that.
There was a mini-me next to the mirror and I had to dress him to dress me. It has been very nice to choose some traditional clothes. Once I was super-handsome, I decided to go out to look for some female skeletons 🙂 .
I walked a bit until I reached the main plaza of the city. I was like… WOW. Astonishing graphics: I was there, inside this little city of the dead full of lights, buildings and with lots of colors. I was amazed.
I started wandering around and I soon discovered that the city was full of interesting places:
- There is a spot inside the square where you can make some photos of yourself. The coolest thing is that next to the photo booth there are some accessories like hats, glasses, masks, and mustaches and you can wear them to make the photo! So you just go there, grab them with your Oculus Controllers and put them on your head in a very natural way. This way you can customize your avatar even more. When you think you’re cool enough looking yourself in the monitor, you can press a button to take a photo (that gets saved on your computer)!
- The Cinema: a lane where there is a movie projected on the wall of a building. If you stay there with the other skeletons to watch the movie for enough time, you’ll notice that you’re actually watching a remix of the movie Coco, so basically at the cinema in Coco VR they’re showing the movie Coco. Very nice idea;
- There is a place where there are two skeletons playing the guitar and a little crowd listening to them;
- The art museum. The art museum is fantastic… you go there and you can watch some paintings and sculptures all regarding skeletons.
I guess that some of them are fake while others are real. Next to every masterpiece, there is an orange button that you can press to listen to an explanation of the painting: basically, you can have a guided tour of the art museum of this little city. Some orange buttons do not trigger the description, but some funny sounds or sentences and this makes everything more entertaining. But the best moment of the art museum happens at the end when you find yourself in front of a desk with some colors on it.
This is another place where you can customize your avatar. You can remove the skull from your body (really!! You use your Touch controllers to detach the skull from your body and put it on the desk!!!) and then decorate it with some artistic brush strokes. There’s also an eraser to remove the strokes that you don’t like. And when you’re over with this, you can re-attach the skull to your head!
Apart from these big attractions, there are various little things that you can watch without actually being able to go there: people talking, shops and other things. These enhance the experience because they make the city more alive, more real.
After I had fun with all these places, I went to the elevator. thanks to the elevator, I arrived at a little flying train that I made to start. I started to take a tour of the city from the above: it has really been astonishing. Since the environment is wonderful, admiring it from the above is fantastic.
This moment has actually two little problems:
- There’s a bit of motion sickness;
- To remove burden from the GPU, they have pre-rendered all the environment that you can see and they show it to you as a 360 video (I had this impression, that was confirmed by finding the file inside the directory of the game): this makes the graphical quality of the tour inferior to the one of the rest of the experience (think about the video compression…).
Once you arrive at the final destination, you find yourself on a stage where there are 4 skeletons playing music and another skeleton entertaining the audience. Being in front of an audience, even if fake, has been a little embarrassing, especially because the entertainer has immediately put me at the center of the attention. Then he started singing and dancing and I felt like doing the same, playing some maracas with my hands and dancing on the stage. The game didn’t force me to do that, but you know… the presence offered by virtual reality makes us do strange things.
And while I was there, having fun… I found immediately again into the house of Miguel. He said some sentences and then the experience was over. I was like: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I WANT MORE!!!
I liked a lot Coco VR: it is a great marketing experience in VR. It is not a complete game like Robo Recall and it shouldn’t be: it should be something that amazes you and makes you want to watch the movie… and I think that it reaches its goals. The experience is a high-quality one and it has been carefully studied so that to amaze the user: there are a lot of little WOW moments inside the game and these ones make the experience very pleasant. Furthermore, it is a lot interactive, it is not only a 360 video and this is really important to make it more entertaining. It has also a multiplayer mode: you can play it with your Oculus friends and explore the Coco world together!!
If you have 20-30 minute to spend to try a nice VR experience, go here and give Coco VR a shot.
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