On Wednesday, November 27, 2019, Lego A/S, doing business as The LEGO® Group, announced new Hidden Side™ sets and multiplayer game mode for the app that will allow friends to team up to catch ghosts together whether they’re in the same room or meeting up online, in 2020. With sets in the LEGO® Hidden Side™ theme (product line), children can use an augmented reality app to hunt and catch ghosts. Six sets will be introduced: Haunted Fairground, Lighthouse of Darkness, El Fuego’s Stunt Plane, Welcome to the Hidden Side, Jack’s Beach Buggy, and Newberry Subway.
The new multiplayer feature is compatible with all new Hidden Side™ sets. It lets children take part in challenges with friends in the same room or online.
To get started, build the LEGO® Hidden Side™ set and scan it with the app. Then choose from of two new game modes. Firstly, there is the “Play as a Hunter” mode, wherein the player’s goal is to enter a competition with other players in the same room or online to catch ghosts. Secondly, there is the “Play as a Ghost” mode, wherein children join two other online ghost players with the goal of haunting LEGO® Hidden Side™ sets and hiding from a player-controlled ghost hunter.
The LEGO® Group has taken precautions so that parents should not have to worry about online predators or bullies. In a press release, The LEGO® Group stated, “As part of The LEGO Group’s commitment to developing safe and fun digital play experiences for children, a number of safeguards have been incorporated into the new multiplayer feature. During online games, players can only communicate with each other via a fixed set of fun LEGO inspired emojis, stickers and phrases. The player communication is focused on inspiring and encouraging players to compete together and complimenting others on their performance. No voice chat or other communication methods will be available.”
The app lets children assume a first-person perspective to explore the character’s hometown of Newbury. Children use their smartphones (or a parent’s smartphone) to see and solve paranormal mysteries beneath the surface of the game environment. The LEGO® Group stated, “Game play prompts kids to hold their phone up to the physical LEGO models and interact with various elements, or ‘points of possession’, which release virtual ghosts that kids must then capture in the AR game to stop the haunting. Numerous scenarios create dynamic gameplay that requires kids to keep one hand in each world to progress play…The app experience will continue to expand with the addition of new ghosts, new game challenges, and randomization of gameplay so the experience is different every time kids play.”
From this description, the Hidden Side™ theme seems to be mostly inspired by Ghostbusters (1984); but also by Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (1969-1985); and the Netflix web series Stranger Things, as well. While sets from other themes will not be compatible with the LEGO® Hidden Side™ app, the models from the LEGO® Hidden Side™ theme appear compatible with old sets from the LEGO® Scooby-Doo theme, released in 2015; Ghostbusters Eco-1 from the LEGO® Ideas theme, released in 2014; the LEGO Ghostbusters theme, released in 2016; and the LEGO® Stranger Things theme, released this year. To a lesser extent, the models from the LEGO® Hidden Side™ theme appear compatible with models from the LEGO® City theme.
All sets that debut in 2020 will be compatible with the new multiplayer feature along with the 2019 sets, which will be available to play in multiplayer game mode in early 2020. The LEGO® Group stated, “LEGO Hidden Side building sets deliver everything kids love and expect from a LEGO building experience – the challenge of the build, a detailed model with functionality, and minifigure characters set in a story-driven universe. Each model can be built as it appears by day – for instance a fairground or lighthouse – and has transforming functionality to become the haunted version of itself.”
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