I’ve crashed my motorcycle dozens of times in the past few days. Don’t worry, it’s virtual. Coke Zero has teamed up with the upcoming TRON: Legacy movie and created a fun new smart phone app that puts you in command of your own light cycle. I had a chance to play a beta version a few days before its recent release on iPhone and Android. The free app, LiveCycle, is a strange mixture of reality and virtual gaming. On your screen is the standard virtual bike leaving behind a wall of light that you try to get opponents to crash into while dodging the walls they leave for you. The cool twist on the game is that you don’t control your light cycle by pressing buttons, you drive it by walking. GPS and compass sensors let you run around a park or field in order to evade and destroy your AI opponents inside the smart phone. Check out Coke’s demo for the app in the video below, and don’t miss the latest TRON: Legacy trailer and movie clip at the end of the post. This game is really addictive…and a little dangerous.
Here’s how you’re supposed to play LiveCycle: you go to some big open outdoor space, you fire up the app, and you start walking around. When a virtual opponent gets too close you can literally outrun them. Make a few hairpin turns and you’ll be ‘derezzing’ baddies in no time. AI opponents seem to get progressively harder, and they keep coming, but a good sprinter with some decent sense of direction can win until he or she gets too tired. There’s the standard social networking video game tropes (login with Facebook, Twitter, share scores, compete against friends, etc) to keep you busy while you catch your breath.
That being said, I ended up playing the game a little differently (and I should mention that I foolishly broke all the safety rules and regulations that Coke and Disney have plastered all over the app). First, I played inside my house, so I wasn’t just dodging virtual opponents, but my furniture, walls, and wife as well. That was fun for the shear mayhem. I also started playing on my way to work each day as I walked on the street. That was dumb. REALLY DUMB. Texting while strolling down the road is dangerous enough, but add in dodging a pink light cycle while tagging a green with your light wall and see how you do. Or better yet, don’t. I looked silly and I walked into a parked car. True story. True, really dumb, story.
I’m not sure how to characterize LiveCycle. Augmented reality? Video game with physical interface? A little bit of both, I think. It’s not the first game that asks you to move your body, nor is it the first that requires you to move around the real world, but it is still a pretty awesome experience. I’m excited to see how the plethora of sensors in mobile devices continue to revolutionize video games. We’ve seen how onboard cameras have opened up a whole new realm of augmented reality gaming experiences, and these are only going to get more amazing as we add in other technologies. GPS and compass sensing are just the latest additions to the game developers toolkit. LiveCycle uses them well, but we’ve seen them before, and we’ll see them again many times over. …But probably not with the flare and excitement that comes with TRON. The light cycle has always been one of the most iconic images from TRON, and it’s one of the prominently featured symbols for the upcoming TRON: Legacy sequel. Heck, we’ve even seen professional quality working replicas of the motorcycles sold on eBay. People want to drive light cycles, and they want to derezz opponents, and LiveCycle is about as close as you can get to doing those things in reality.
Man, the new movie is going to be awesome. Enjoy the latest trailer and movie clip below.
[image credits: CocaColaZero, Disney, Aaron Saenz/Singularity Hub]