Your Dragon Ball Fantasy Made Real

By Keisuke Tanabe : Reporter of Toyokeizai
April 22,2015
Keisuke Tanabe
Reporter of Toyokeizai

Writer and Editor of Toyo Keizai Inc. since April 2007. He previously covered retail industry, writing feature stories such as "End of Traditional Retailers".  He also worked as an editor of Toyo Keizai's investment informantion magazine. His present interest is in the telecom industry and mobile technology.

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Meleap's CEO Hiroshi Fukuda has been dreaming about firing a Kamehameha since he was a child. Now, he's making the dream come ture with a new game.   His company, Meleap, is among the winners of KDDI's pitch contest (Photo: Fumishige Ogata)

Firing a Kamehameha was Mr. Hiroshi Fukuda’s childhood dream.  He had an obsession with Songoku's lethal energy attack from the animated series "Dragon Ball." Mr. Fukuda practiced furiously, over and over, and mentally visualized himself executing the move through accumulated bouts of image training.

Now at age 28, Mr. Fukuda still hasn’t given up.  As CEO of Meleap, a startup gaming company, he is serious about making his childhood dreams a reality, and turning it into a business.

Using head mount and smartwatch

Meleap’s the very first production, "HADO," currently in development, is a next generation sport, utilizing Augmented Reality (AR) and wearable sensor technology. By wearing a head mount display and smartwatch, a player can beam the light and make flashy attack moves such as lightning strikes through hand and arm movements, just like in a fighting game. A player can experience the sensation of playing as if he or her were a real fighting game character.

Here is how you with HADO. Because the user's hand movements need to be recognized by the smartwatch sensor, hand movements are first recorded. For example, "by thrusting your hand in front you can emit a normal light beam," and "by swinging down you can emit an even more powerful attack move," and "by making movements from front to side you can restore your power."

A smartphone installed with a specialized app is fitted onto a head mount display. When the user wears this device, an AR "crystal," which serves as the target, will appear before him or her. And then the user will attack the crystal using pre-recorded movements to emit light beams. Because from the player's point of view it will look as if light beams really shoot from his or her hands, it will feel significantly real.

 But, this is still not in its completed form. Currently, team competition formats, such as 3-on-3, are in development. The player protects his or her team's crystal while attacking the enemy's crystal. This is the planned outlook for this game.

How did Melepa come up with HADO idea?

As a matter of fact, Mr. Fukuda did not come up with HADO idea at first when he started Meleap.  He first thought about doing a "Monster Hunter" style game whereby several players would cooperate in defeating the enemy monster.

However, doing that requires a lot of high-skilled work like creating enermy characters and comlicated sound desings.  Not to mention that would need a lot of meny.  For a startup starving for funds, there was no choice but giving up. 

And that is when Mr. Fukuda came up with the HADO.  The idea was not only to cut costs, but also to enable the player to enjoy the movements of the game within gameplay." The game style was changed drastically, and this was also the point at which the concept was expanded into the idea of the game as a sport.

Looking forward, Meleap has aggressive plans to promote trial sessions, such as through participation in events held by television networks(they have already done this in the past and it gained some attention.) Once they get a certain amount of fans, the company plans to add additional features. 

To monetize the business, HADO is considering item-based payment and sales of customized head mount displays. It is also planning to use cloud funding to raise some money for further hardware developments. 

The ultimate goal for Meleap is to grow HADO into a major sport with participation from a large population of players. By hosting tournaments, players from around the world who win qualifying rounds in their respective countries will gather to compete in a brand new sport viewed by multitudes of fans. That’s the ultimate goal for Mr. Fukuda for now.