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Bandai Namco Lounge Unimpressions

More of nothing to do is still nothing to do


Sony's first major update for Home hit today. Even though I'd had my fill of the virtual world after a brief sampling late last week, I decided to see if there was anything about the new content that would make another visit worthwhile.

As detailed on Tuesday, Home was to take delivery today of content from Bandai Namco and Nippon Ichi in the form of new lounges and paid items. I have no intention of buying paid avatar items -- EVER -- but since the lounges were free, I was willing to investigate.

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Upon first starting up Home, the software updated itself to version 1.04. As usual, the download for the update was super quick.

Following this, a notice listed some of the new features. There's apparently a "White Gift From the Sky" event that will run from 12/18 to 1/7. During this event period, the weather will periodically change, and people will be given a limited reward item.

The notice also made mention of the items that Sony announced on the 17th. However, instead of separate lounges for Tekken, Soul Calibur, and Ridge Racer, it simply mentioned just a single Namco Museum Lounge.

More on that in a second, though. After entering my home space, I attempted to go into Home Square. I was made to sit through a 40.3 megabyte download. The same thing happened when I attempted to enter the marketplace -- a 28.2 megabyte download. As usual, the downloads were quick, and they can even be moved into the background while you do something else. However, I'm hoping this type of patching isn't too frequent, as it makes the world even less seamless than it already is.

Now, back to that Namco Museum Lounge. It turns out the Tekken, Soul Calibur and Ridge Racer lounges are actually just parts of this single lounge. You access the new lounge as you do the current Siren and Hot Shots Golf lounges, from the world map menu via a Bandai Namco icon, which sits beside the Sony icon.

The Bandai Namco Lounge is split into two sections, Carrot NBGI and Play Max NBGI. These two areas are separated by loading points. They're also downloaded separately. When you select to go into the Bandai Namco lounge for the first time, Home downloads just the Carrot space. When you try to go into the Play Max space, you have to endure another download.

In the two screens below, shared yesterday by Bandai Namco, Carrot is the area in the left shot and Play Max is the area in the right shot.

Carrot solves the problem of there being not enough arcade units in the main Home game space by putting too many arcade units. In addition to the upright units, the tables are all arcade machines too. I counted a total of 27 in all.

The arcade units let you play games from the Namco Museum titles. I still don't see why anyone would actually go into Home to do this, as the games aren't played within the Home universe anyway.

There are also vending machines and money exchange machines in this area. Clicking on these gave me an item (one for each machine). I'm not sure what I was given, and I really didn't care enough to check.

The main attraction for this area appears to be a video screen that was looping through a Tekken 6 trailer.

The other location, Play Max NBGI, has three video monitors, one for Soul Calibur IV, one for Ridge Racer 7, and one for Tekken 5 Dark Resurrection. The Ridge Racer 7 monitor was playing a video while the other two were in poster mode. I'm not sure if there's a technical reason for this, or if I just came at a bad time.

This area also has a car, a Mitsurugi figure, and a figure for some Tekken guy.

And that's the Bandai Namco lounge. As with the Hot Shots and Siren lounge, there's nothing to do here except for play arcade games that you can access much more effectively from the main PlayStation 3 XMB menu. I don't know why anyone would actually go here more than once.

I certainly won't.

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