With opinions on the LEGO Hidden Side app differing, Brick Fanatics is rounding up some of the reaction to the new Augmented Reality (AR) experience. A Skype demo was provided to media outlets ahead of yesterday’s announcement, so the following is gathered from those who did get advance information about the app.
LEGO Hidden Side is an assortment of eight LEGO sets that will launch in August 1, that tie in with a bespoke app. The app will offer games that allow the user to see the models differently when looking at them through a device’s screen.
CNET likened the app to other AR games: “I was immediately reminded of Nintendo’s ghost-hunting Luigi’s Mansion game, but in this case there are actual physical LEGO bricks”. Fast Company gave a scathing account of the game: “The app embodies many of the lousy clichés of bad mobile games–the sort of dopamine-fueled, meaningless play that makes many parents fear screens in the first place”.
“What’s especially cool is that the kids aren’t done with the physical set just yet,” says engadget, highlighting the need to turn things and move levers on the physical LEGO set to keep the game moving. The website notes the limitation of not being able to re-build the models, but counters that “the app actually just replaces the standard types of play with something different.”
KnowTechie noted the limitation of requiring the user to have one hand on the device and one on the LEGO set, as well as the app potentially limiting what is so special about LEGO sets: “It’ll be interesting to see how it’s received once available, part of the wonder of LEGO is being able to build whatever your imagination can come up with, so I have reservations as to how the AR might constrain play.”
YouTuber Andy Robertson, who runs the FamilyGamerTV channel, told the Sun: “…it is a positive step for LEGO. I think it will attract screen-loving kids, who perhaps play Minecraft all day, back to the joys of playing with real toys and building things. Plus of course it extends the fun for existing LEGO fans”.
Pocket Lint got a hands-on demo, and found that the sets are excellent in and of themselves, as well as when combined with the app – that feels genuinely integrated with the models.
The website did find device restrictions though, that may limit the number of seven year olds who can get utilise the app: “By forcing players to use a phone to get the most from the sets, they are restricted by what handset they can use. The nature of the software means that it requires fairly powerful handsets to work. To get interoperability with both Android and iPhone, Lego uses Qualcomm’s Vuforia AR tech rather than Apple’s ARKit or Google’s ARCore code specifically.”