Virtual and augmented reality have put a new spin on an old festive legend for Lunar New Year, as The Arcade in Cyberport reawakens the mythical beast Nian.

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Said to have terrorised villagers on New Year’s Eve in ancient times, rising from the deep to devour livestock and children, Nian was defeated by a wise old man using firecrackers and the colourful red paraphernalia that has become so central to festivities today.

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Families and children can board the Chinese New Year VR Express at the shopping mall, donning virtual-reality headsets to hunt for Nian while learning about the origins of the season’s traditions. Once they’ve found Nian, visitors can face off against the monster in augmented-reality game play.

“We celebrate Chinese New Year every year with all those traditions of giving away red envelopes, hanging spring couplets and enjoying the lion dance. But we never really know why we do these things. So we wanted to bring people back to the old legend about Nian and introduce all those traditional customs in a ‘techy’ way,” says Cyberport chief operating officer Mark Clift.

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Those who find the idea of reality-bending technology too much to stomach after a celebratory meal can hop on a bike instead and burn off a few festive calories pedalling to light up the eyes of a lion.

“Discover the Legend of Nian” runs at Ocean View Court, The Arcade, until February 26.