Lego has found a creative way to bridge the gap between physical and digital games. It’s created four brick sets that can turn into content for smartphone and tablet games.
The Fusion range is so named because of the physical/digital set-up, but can equally apply to it being somewhere between the old-school “build what you like” set up and the contemporary sets which are more based about replicating a particular object.
The four sets in the new range come with around 200 bricks and a special base that includes a bar code. Once you’ve finished your creation on the base, you photograph it using a dedicated iOS or Android app. Your creation then appears on screen and is incorporated into the game that accompanies the set.
Depending on the game, the player will keep needing to build new creations. For example, in a town based game (think Sim City) you’ll need to keep creating new buildings to meet specific needs of the locals, for example a fire engine house, police station or newspaper office.
There’s also a driving game in which you physically build a vehicle with the bricks, then control it in on-screen races.
One limitation is that although obviously you can build three-dimensional objects with the bricks, with some of the sets the image scanning only works in 2D, so you only need to build the facade of a building.
On the upside, there’s nothing technically special about the bricks that come with the sets — they just happened to be more suited to the main themes. That means you can use bricks from your existing collection to refine or expand your designs.
The digital games will be compatible with Lego’s existing online identities, meaning players can invite one another to “visit” their creations within the app.