While most established media brands are satisfied with copying Pokémon GO to jump into augmented reality gaming, at least one property is taking a slightly different approach.
Launched this week, Wallace & Gromit: The Big Fix Up is a mobile game fitting into the life simulation genre that appoints players as partners in the titular characters' handyman startup, Spick & Spanners. Players coordinate various jobs, assigning available required contraptions and gadgets to complete the time-gated tasks.
Where the game differs from other entries in the genre is the use of augmented reality in two areas of the game. First off, the jobs that players accept during the game include messages from in-game characters. Some of these messages are manifested as holograms, with a very meta reference to Star Wars in the first AR message.
Next, as players craft contraptions and gadgets in the game, they can interact with virtual replicas of the items in their physical space through the game's Playground section, which is accessible through the navigation bar at the bottom of the app's interface.
With the viral launch and sustained success of Pokémon GO, intellectual property holders have been eager to replicate the geocaching formula with their own franchises, with Jurassic Park, Walking Dead, Ghostbusters, and Harry Potter games launching over the past two years, and a Hello Kitty in the works. However, none have matched Pokémon GO, which is still among the highest-grossing mobile games available.
More recently, though, we've seen brands take more creative approaches to apply AR to their games. Like Wallace & Gromit, the Animal Crossing Pocket Camp has added the ability to interact with characters and explore virtual models of cabin designs in AR.
On the premium end, Dr. Seuss's ABC – An Amazing AR Alphabet! users AR to bring classic characters to life and help children learn the alphabet.
Perhaps the recent creativity in game design will result in more mainstream success for augmented reality apps.