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LEGO Fusion – Augmented Reality Meets the Plastic Brick

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 12.00.15 AMChildren today utilize digital play devices as much as they do the physical play, but don’t necessarily differentiate the difference between the virtual and the physical. To bridge the gap between the two, LEGO has introduced four new sets under the Fusion theme that will allow children to build and bring them into their mobile devices and tablets to play with.

I was invited to a private demo introducing the new LEGO Fusion line yesterday.  In this new line, those who are ages 7 and up can download an app to their Android phone or tablet, iPhone or iPad and start playing a game by Telltale Games – the folks behind the highly popular console LEGO games. Quickly into the game, the user is prompted to build something to forward the game ahead – from building building facades to cars – and then play with what they build in the virtual world.

LEGO Fusion will be launching with four sets initially, each with its own app:

  • Town Master In Town Master, children create the front of a building then scan it in to add it to their virtual city as they lay it out and complete missions from the denizens of their town. As they continue on, they build larger towns until they expand across multiple towns.
  • Battle Towers In Battle Towers, LEGO comes to the tower defense genre. The child builds a tower ever higher, but with each new level they build and scan in, monsters and skeletons come out to try to destroy the tower. Of course, the tower can be populated by its own inhabitants that the child can use to defend the tower with minifigure people as it grows ever higher in its attempt to build high enough to capture the gold crown.
  • Create & Race In Create & Race, children get to build cars, scan them in, and race them on virtual tracks. Each part used to build the car affects the way the car drives, and allows for optimization to win the races, demolition derbies, or stunts by changing the pieces that the cars are built out of.
  • Resort Designer In Resort Designer, the ideas behind Town Master are brought to the beach with the LEGO Friends. Scan the 2D fronts of buildings and build up the beach resort, its inhabitants, and their pets. As they build more, they can add aquariums, surf shops, and beach houses – and ultimately more resorts.

While LEGO Fusion does not launch for a couple months, they were able to demonstrate Town Master and Battle Towers. Both were still in a beta state, but seemed to be pretty solid and quite a bit of fun. Town Master was reminiscent of Sim City, but with a more ground level interaction by having their mayor character running through the streets and interacting with the citizens, while Battle Towers was closer to Clash of Clans, but with more of a focus on defense and a lack of other villages to team up with.

LEGO Fusion will have some online social capabilities when it launches. Users will be able to log in via their LEGO ID and cross platforms with their creations and share them with their friends. Online capabilities and communication is an important part of the app play process these days, and it’s good to see it baked in from the beginning.

With the popularity of apps and the popularity of LEGO among kids, it makes sense to integrate the two. The LEGO Fusion sets will be available in August (with Resort Designer being released in September) for $34.99 at LEGO brand retail stores and Toys R Us. I really liked what I saw of it at the presentation and look forward to seeing what people make with it when it is released this summer.

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