Mechaverse: A PC universe beckons kids to on-, offline play

Mechaverse: A PC universe beckons kids to on-, offline play

Robotics and PC video gaming converge in the Mechaverse, a galaxy far, far away but close enough for your kids to access and obsess.

Santa’s pack was too full to carry a requested Mechatar for my 10-year-old son (enough was enough, already) so he took a $50 gift card received from his uncle in Colorado and purchased a Mechatar named Kodar for $49.

Translated, that means we purchased a toy robot that linked him to the PC world of constant battling in the Mechaverse. It’s a physical toy that interfaces with a digital world. Think Webkinz without fur and adoption records or the more recently launched video game, Skylanders for the Wii, which integrates action figures that battle on screen when placed on a USB-synced portal of power.

After a seven-battery infusion, Kodar, a blue creature with small cat-like face, came to life blinking its fighting red eyes. My delighted son maneuvered the small beast’s wheeled legs end over end, and I had a flashback to another blue creature with similar facial features also named “tar” — Avatar. Come to find out the two “tars” Mecha and Ava also share a similar premise.

Remember in “Avatar,” the movie, Jake Sully enters Pandora to gather data from the Na’vi tribe and ultimately battles his own, humans.

As a Mechatar, you’re invited to the Mechaverse where human scientists have discovered an intergalactic rift between Earth and the Mechaverse. There is another lurking evil in the Mechaverse, too – the Swarm.

Connecting our Mechatar via USB to the computer and, we created a free account quickly and easily, and became part of the Mechaverse to complete physical missions (offline on our den floor) and virtual battles online – all free.

Marketed to children six and older, Mechatars by themselves in green, blue or red and named Alphas, Kodars and Wrexx are basically remote control toys suitable for the younger set. However, the virtual world is more appropriate for older children due to the complexity of the technology — USB connection, storyline and strategy.

This two-toys-in-one essentially has two modes of play – mission and battle modes. Battle allows you to battle other Mechatars in the room and Mission, uploaded from the Web, are challenges in the Mechaverse.

Strategy enters the Mecha equation in a Pokemon kind of way. Recall Pokemon. These Japanese battling urchins all have differing talents and abilities, and through evolution their capabilities are enhanced. Similarly, Mechatars have their own strengths and weaknesses. In addition, players choose weapons to pummel or freeze, incinerate, etc. based on one of eight elements that control the natural flow of life in the Mechaverse. Players master the eight elements and nine attack properties to create weapons, upgrade and then evolve while acquiring skills and tools and dominating other Mechatars.

Missions completed offline translate to the Mechaverse and online accomplishments in the Mechaverse give Mechatars greater abilities and skills, constantly increasing levels.

If you’re Mechatar master has a friend with a Mechatar, all the better. It takes two to tango – you gotta have two Mechatars to battle each other on the den floor, but also through wireless communication these Mechatars will recognize each other online, too.

Although the Mechatars communicate online, your kid will not. There is no human interaction or real-time chatting between players like on Xbox Live or other PC games.The Mechaverse has a great “parent” page of explanation including a forum. It also has clear explanations and instructions for playing and a “news” section keeping players aware of ongoing action in the Mechaverse. On Dec. 14, it was announced that the Swarm was corrupting some Mechatars and a new class of robot is coming to the Mechaverse – Exomorphs. Not sure what that means in the Mechaverse. but sounds like a new toy to purchase here on Earth.

The Mechaverse seems to combine not only robots and gaming but also a compelling storyline with multi-dimensional evolving characters likely to beckon kiddos with an affinity for fast-action creative and strategic battling. As long as we parents can bring our offspring back to Earth at the end of the battle, this Mechaverse seems fun, creative and benign.