Infected Mushroom's electronic decibels blend with Honey Singh's Blue Eyes. Add to it the sounds of speeding FI cars, flying helicopters, and firing bazookas. Oh, also the beeps of UFOs, thunder and lightning, war cries, stadium cheers, crashing cars and bombed out skyscrapers. And then there are the gamers themselves screaming, laughing, exclaiming. Only a discerning listener can separate these strands of sound - it's almost impossible to tell one sound from the other. But together these make for such a high-impact, high-energy auditory blast that you cannot but spring into action the moment you enter Smaaash, the recently opened entertainment and gaming centre at the DLF Mall of India, Noida.
Then there is the lightscape: Violet, aqua marine, purple, pinks - the fluorescent new age LEDS changing the environment into million avatars.
Bathed in these lights are the mean machines. Real superbikes, real FI cars, real paraglide, real guns - all of which are supplemented by virtual reality technology to take you to dimensions you didn't know exist. A mix of motion and positional tracking, high definition Head Mounted Displays (HMD), along with state-of-the-art graphics engine provide the ultimate thrill of adventure gaming.
Yes, it is immersive. It's interactive. It's innovative and it is involving. Sprawled over a 40,000 sqft area, it's also a place that creates a level playing field for both kids and adults alike. The moment me and my 8 year old step in, there has been a noticeable change in our body language. I get groovy, the body moves, and Tara breaks into a jiggle as she runs from one corner to another, one machine to another trying to figure out this electric fantasy. And right now the biggest dilemma of her little life is which one to go for first? There are just too many options each tempting her with the lights, the sounds and the HD visuals on the monitors. Should she go for Walk the Plank? Or should she try the Finger Coaster first? What about these games called Fly Max, Magic Carpet?
Indeed, you will face this problem of plenty here. At the Laser Maze you have to try and move across a room avoiding laser beams within a time limit. In X1 racing, you can experience G Force!
And oh, there is cricket and soccer too. A 360 degree cricket simulator lets you face cricket legends like Dale Steyn, Wasim Akram and of course the master blaster Sachin Tendulkar. Soccer fans can experience the drama, excitement and emotions of a penalty shootout at Super Keeper. Well, my Tara isn't into either. Besides, there is a long queue waiting their turn. "Football and cricket simulators are the most popular games," says Devesh, F&B Manager, Smaaash.
Tara gets a grip on one of the gizmo consoles, but now the problem is both of us don't know how to play. It takes us a while to get used to the switches, the instructions on the screen, and by the time we do figure out a bit, it's "game over" on the screen. You have to swipe the smart card once again (means more cash) to try it again. The staffers help, but on a busy day, they may not be able to pay you individual attention.
Certain games, however, have some restrictions. The para glider wouldn't allow anyone above 65 kg; to do the mechanical bull you have to sign a disclaimer that you wouldn't blame them for any injury. "We had to do that coz once a kid was injured," says Devesh.
At the twilight bowling arena bathed in UV lights, there are balls which vary in weight, for every age group. Tara is pathetic at bowling, but turns out to be very good with the gun. In a game that we play together - I drive the SUV, she has the gun - she saves me from raging monsters carrying hammers by shooting them all with a do-or-die zeal, even as I crash my SUV and get stuck in a ditch. "Yes! We did it papa! High five," she exclaims.
She also likes the para glider. Wearing virtual reality glass, she is harnessed into a horizontal fly-mode position as she glides high up over mountains and rivers. Next she wants to do the finger coaster. Here you can draw a line on the monitor and make your own roller coaster route. Devesh warns me that the experience is very real and very scary and that he has actually heard grown men screaming in horror. I hate roller coasters and forbid Tara from doing it.
We do most of the games, but Tara wants more. But it is 10 pm and time to close, so we quickly head for the buffet dinner and have our fill. That's the best part. You see, all the hours of shooting, driving, flying and crash landing makes you hungry and so time to reload our tummies. That's where Mighty Small, the café at Smaaash, comes as a big relief with its quick bites like canopies, carousels, or a full course dinner.
Drink, if you want, there is a bar too, while your kid goes berserk on the consoles, but for that go on a weekend. Alcohol isn't served on weekdays. However, to truly enjoy all the games at ease, weekdays, when there are less crowd, are best days to visit.
So game on? Lets Smaaash!
(Rates ranges from Rs 50 to Rs 300 per game; DLF Mall of India)