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Tokyo Thrift: The Rez Trance Vibrator is gaming's most intense peripheral
If you read our coverage of Tokyo Game Show earlier this month, you'll know that Rez is my favorite game of all time, and that the new version for PlayStation VR is its most spectacular iteration yet. Rez Infinite is the rare example of a pre-existing game that feels like it was designed for virtual reality, despite first coming out fifteen years ago.But fifteen years ago, designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi was no less concerned with how to amplify the Rez experience, even on modest hardware like the PlayStation 2. Okay, so you couldn't immerse yourself in Rez's wireframe world by enveloping your field of vision with a stereoscopic OLED display. But you could use the Trance Vibrator.Tokyo Thrift is a column on The Verge where Sam Byford, news editor for Asia, trawls the second-hand market to explore the history, design, and culture of Japanese gadgets. It runs on the last Sunday of each month.The Rez Trance Vibrator, manufactured by ASCII and released only in Japan, is a relic of a time when Japanese video games would often ship with wild single-function peripherals. (Remind me to write about my beloved JogCon, a PlayStation 1 controller for Ridge Racer Type 4 with a built in force-feedback steering wheel, someday.) It came out alongside Rez on November 22nd, 2001; I managed to find a sealed unit for about $30 this month. It is not much more than what it sounds like: a vibrator. You plug it into one of the PlayStation 2's USB ports, and it vibrates.To understand why anyone would want such a thing, you have to understand Rez. Rez is not so much a game about music as a game constructed from the fabric of music. You're not playing an instrument — you're shooting weird enemies inside a computer network. But with each shot you make, you add to the soundtrack so that by the end of the stage you're both listening to and helping to create a frantic techno maelstrom.