Fans of LEGO who are also into the digital side of the brand’s many products – from console videogames to mobile apps – know for a fact that the company invests significantly in the development of new uses and applications for augmented reality (AR). They recently collaborated with Shapchat to create an AR online store featuring a new line of LEGO-branded casual street-wear.
And let’s not forget the various AR apps they introduced which sought to seamlessly integrate real built LEGO sets with digital counterparts in an augmented environment. It’s on this vein that the latest AR-using LEGO product line springs from.
The LEGO Group introduced their new augmented reality game app “Hidden Side” on Thursday, February 14. For interested fans who want to try it out, the new app will be showcased in full for the first time at the American International/New York Toy Fair starting this weekend.
Previous LEGO AR game apps carried digital recreations of existing sets that could be “integrated” on the app screen with LEGO constructs in the real world, with added special effects. “Hidden Side” on the other hand works specifically with an entirely new series of LEGO sets themed for the game, with no less than eight Hidden side sets to start off this product line.
“Hidden Side” as Game and Set Line
The LEGO Hidden Side construction sets all depict either vehicles or structures and facilities that figure into the game app’s storyline. All of them can transform via manual brick mechanics from mundane looking constructs to spooky monstrous alternates, as described in the Hidden Side storyline.
As stated in the game’s fact sheet, the app follows the misadventures of two teen bloggers attending Newbury High School, who get strange app on their smartphones that show the secret haunted nature of their place of learning. With players assuming the role of the characters, they must investigate Newbury’s mysteries to un-haunt the place.
With the AR component, players of “LEGO Hidden Side” put themselves in the heroes’ shoes. They would look at their environment (the app’s AR display) from a first-person view. The phones function as “ghost detectors” when focused on the Hidden Side tie-in sets. This enables players to see supernatural spooks. They must capture or drive them off by twiddling with the sets’ various play points. Doing so generates the appropriate AR effects on screen.
Deeper “Fluid Play”
Senior VP Tom Donaldson of LEGO’s Creative Play Lab says “Hidden Side” pushes the concept of “fluid play” to further levels than before. This is the interaction between physical surroundings with the augmented-reality effects in a game app.
“At our core we focus on tactile building, but AR presents opportunities to enhance physical LEGO play with new action and mastery elements,” says Donaldson. “As we have designed LEGO Hidden Side, physical manipulation of the LEGO models alters the AR experience, and the AR experience prompts new things to discover in the physical models, creating a deeply engaging reciprocal play experience in two worlds that has never been seen before.”
There’s also an option for “LEGO Hidden Side” that can be played fully digital. That’s a bonus those who have downloaded the app but don’t have any of the actual sets.
While New York Toy Fair attendees can get first crack on “Hidden Side,” the app and the sets themselves will become generally available by summer. All related sets will range in price from $19.99-$129.99 while the app will be on both iOS and Google Play.