INSiGHT | A Trip to the Pokémon Gym in Osaka

By Flynnie 01.12.2015

Feeling pumped up? Has Machamp got you doing boxercise or is Commander Charizard blitzing out commands? Then you must be at the Pokémon Gym in Osaka.
 
The Pokémon Gym, which opened in November, is one of the latest attractions in Osaka's bustling Expo City. Those expecting tough gym battles or leaders in a Pokémon-battle styled environment should stick to the games, as the name is perhaps a little misleading to say the least.  As a joint venture between Nintendo and The Pokémon Company, the Gym hosts a plethora of language based, interactive activities and motion-based rhythm games.

 
Entry is priced at a one-time membership fee of 500¥ (£2.70/$4), which includes a Pokémon Trainer Card to save progress of the different games played during each visit, plus also hold credit to play the actual games themselves.

Image for INSiGHT | A Trip to the Pokémon Gym in Osaka

 
A solid grasp of Japanese is required to understand the mechanics with nearly all of these activities, though, with games split into two distinct categories: Five language-based titles with on-screen Pokémon that cost a rather pricey 600¥ (£3.25/$4.90) per turn or three action-orientated games at 400¥ (£2.20/$3.25) a pop. These games are not cheap at all. To put it in to perspective, pre-owned copies of past Pokémon games on both Nintendo 3DS and DS in Japan can be bought for around 1000¥ (£5/$8). Even comparing the session price to arcade games, it is still a pricey experience as games like Mario Kart DX and Pokken Tournament only cost 100¥ (50p/80cents) per turn. 

Image for INSiGHT | A Trip to the Pokémon Gym in Osaka

 
I tried one of the language-based games, "Charizard's Battle Colosseum", and in all honestly didn't quite understand what was going on - it required audience participation, asking questions with a lack of battles. Instead it was time to wander over to three of the more action-driven activities.
 

Image for INSiGHT | A Trip to the Pokémon Gym in Osaka


"Machamp's Boxercise" relies on a dance mat and camera that brings on the rhythm action, as players mimic on-screen commands with four different moves: Left Punch, Right Punch, Jump and Crouch. It does provide a work out, but the monotony gets a little dry after a while. Later levels would utilise the controller more, and there's even a lightweight dumbbell that can be used as well, not that it weight that much.
 

Image for INSiGHT | A Trip to the Pokémon Gym in Osaka


"Gardevoir's Investigation Headquarters" is a game of surveillance; putting you within a booth with multiple screens. Simply listen to instructions and seek out multiple types of Pokémon using a stylus to tap on the screen through different maps. For example, I was tasked with finding the various Eevee evolutions among a slew of non-Eevee critters within the time limit.
 
The last of these action games was called "Pokémon Battle", but was a little misleading. It uses a camera to map movements - leaning left or right to roll a ball over bowling pins. Think Super Monkey Ball, crossed with something that would have aired during Saturday morning kids TV during the '90s. Whilst funny initially, it does become rather tedious after a minute or two of leaning left or right to collect pins. It does require two people to play, however, so a friend or fellow solo trainer would be needed to start rolling!

Image for INSiGHT | A Trip to the Pokémon Gym in Osaka

 
The areas were packed with around 20+ units per game, and even during the opening weekend the Pokémon Gym wasn't overly busy. Perhaps more different activities could be a better use of the space, and I do envisage that, at the current price structure, it will become devoid of people once the initial hype wears thin. 
 
Within the Gym itself, there was also a Pokémon Centre shop that sells all the usual merchandise plus exclusive items bearing the Pokemon gym branding such as stuffed plushes of Pikachu and tshirts. Beside this was a Pokémon cafe stand selling themed snacks and food.

Image for INSiGHT | A Trip to the Pokémon Gym in Osaka

 
Even if I could understand more Japanese, the games themselves were poor and while I am not the intended age for this attraction, I can't help but feel that parents will also not see the value in coming back here. The games themselves don't feel like value for money at all, especially for those who own Xbox with Kinect or a Playstation Eye.
 
If you are visiting Osaka, a Pokémaniac and happen to be going to Expo City, then pop your head in to the Gym but go with low expectations and a wad of cash too. It must be also noted that the Pokemon Gym isn't in Osaka itself, so you will have to travel around 45 minutes out of the city by train and monorail (approximately costing 500¥) to get to Expo City. 
 
If all else fails, visit the Gundam Café next door or go to the all-you-can-eat KFC buffet! 

Image for INSiGHT | A Trip to the Pokémon Gym in Osaka

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