This might be the coolest thing LEGO's done since that movie
LEGO, makers of everybody’s favorite toy plastic bricks, announced its latest creation Thursday: LEGO Fusion, which combines tablet games with physical bricks to blend kids’ digital and physical worlds.
TIME got a demonstration of one of the tablet games, which works like this: You play the mayor of a town who’s charged with building houses, stores and other structures for residents to enjoy. To put together a building in the digital game, you have to use a special version of LEGO’s physical bricks, then scan your real-life creation into the mobile app.
While the software was still in beta at the time of the test, it ran well and accurately scanned TIME’s creations, effortlessly transporting them from tabletop to tablet. Kids (and adults!) playing the game will be able to share their creations online with far-flung friends or nearby siblings, or visit other LEGO cities to get ideas for their own digital downtowns.
Three other LEGO Fusion games include a racing game in which you build and race LEGO cars, a tower-defense game and a resort designer, which feature similar idea-sharing multiplayer features.
Ditte Bruun Pedersen, a senior design manager at LEGO’s Denmark-based Future Lab, told TIME the idea behind LEGO Fusion is to “use tablets to help kids be creative” and “loop from the physical to the digital [worlds],” as kids will have to use both the tablet and the real-life bricks to make progress in the games.
The LEGO Fusion apps, which will run on Apple iOS or Android, will be free to download, while the corresponding physical brick sets will go on sale in mid-August for about $35 each.