Long before world-building videogames like LittleBigPlanet and Spark were conceived, we all spent hundreds of hours with LEGOs. I still do, in fact, helping my two young children bask in the creativity offered by LEGO sets. Next month The LEGO Group will take a bold step to meld generations of creators with LEGO Fusion, a blocks-meet-tablets game that will launch with three LEGO Fusion sets. A fourth will release in September.
The concept behind LEGO Fusion is similar to the Skylanders and Disney Infinity franchises, both of which I also love playing with my kids. (Honestly, I like playing those games by myself too.) Those games involve real-world toys that, when placed on a special platform, become playable characters on-screen in the game. LEGO Fusion isn’t all that different.
Whereas Skylanders and Disney Inifity have console-based iterations, LEGO Fusion is strictly an app-based affair. The game combines traditional brick play with app-based game themes designed to move children between physical and digital LEGO worlds.
With this new game, LEGO is adding a jolt of creativity to this burgeoning “toys to life” genre even as it tries to carve a unique place for itself. Like Disney, which has the benefit of milking hundreds of Disney franchises for its toys, the LEGO Fusion sets will be instantly familiar to consumers. And heck, everyone wants more LEGOs, right?
The LEGO Fusion sets aren’t technically “sets,” per se, but unique stand-alone games. Three of these sets launch in August: LEGO Fusion Town Master, LEGO Fusion Battle Towers and LEGO Fusion Create and Race. The LEGO Fusion Resort Designer will launch in September.
Each LEGO Fusion set consists of a unique collection of LEGO bricks, a corresponding free downloadable app and a “Fusion capture plate.” This plate functions much like the Portal of Power in Skylanders and the Disney Infinity platform, which allow the real-world toys to be sensed via NFC and translated into an on-screen avatar. There’s a slight difference with the Fusion capture plate, however.
The LEGO Fusion sets’ plates are designed to be a small brick-building platform, but they’re printed with a unique design. This pattern lets owners use the camera on their smartphone or tablet to identify the size and colors of the LEGO bricks built onto it. In response to in-game prompts, children build vertically in two dimensions on the Fusion capture plate, enabling the app to “see” the creation, import it and then transform it into a digital version for use in the game.
Once a creation has been imported into the game, a series of challenges and interactions requires that players turn away from the tablet or smartphone to use their real-life LEGO bricks to build new solutions and advance in the game.
For example, in LEGO Fusion Battle Towers, players must build a tower and defend it so they can rule the kingdom. It all begins by designing the Battle Towers with real LEGO pieces, then importing them into the game. With the design scanned and imported, players then choose defenders like wizards and archers to do battle against evil warriors and skeleton armies. If a tower is damaged during battle, players can repair the damage with a timed build using the game’s real-life LEGO bricks.
The other LEGO Fusion sets — LEGO Fusion Town Master, LEGO Fusion Create and Race, and LEGO Fusion Resort Designer — will have equally themed and appropriate objectives and building opportunities. Each LEGO Fusion set will be available for $34.99 from Toys R Us and the LEGO Store.
I’m personally a Skylanders and Disney Infinity junkie, and LEGO Fusion still blow my mind. I love the potential creativity offered by it, and knowing that TT Games — the developers of the LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Marvel, LEGO Lord of the Rings etc. games — is the developer of LEGO Fusion has me even more pumped. TT Games knows “fun,” and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for LEGO Fusion.