Review: Hidden Side App

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Digital interaction has become an increasingly vital element of recent LEGO themes. The brand new Hidden Side range exhibits important focus upon app integration, hence many people have expressed an interest in that feature of Hidden Side sets.

I have therefore been exploring the Hidden Side app within recent weeks and have prepared some comments about its gameplay and interactive functions. In fact, both aspects of the app have exceeded my expectations!

Ghost

Players can decide between two different roles, depending on whether you own any Hidden Side sets. The ghostly faction provides unique gameplay, assembling your team before haunting an environment by distributing gloom. There is no direct interaction between the physical set and your mobile phone in this game mode, although you can explore digital versions of the models.

View image at flickr

The gameplay involves charging around the environment in search of collectable gloom. You can then launch gloom at certain objects within the set, corresponding with several of the gloom spots you may encounter when playing as a ghost hunter and scanning models! The controls sometimes feel slightly awkward in my opinion but that has detracted little from my enjoyment of the game.

View image at flickr

Of course, ghosts cannot haunt their environment without opposition. You will therefore be pursued by an enormous mobile phone in the sky, occupying the role of the ghost hunter which targets your ghoul. Furthermore, limited time is available for haunting during most levels, although screenshots here were taken in the training level so there is no time limit.

View image at flickr

Successfully covering the environment with gloom will earn subscribers and spirit. These collectables can then redeem upgrades and bonus functionality for subsequent levels. I appreciate the connection between this aspect of the Hidden Side app and the ghost hunting side, despite the dramatic variation in their respective gameplay.

View image at flickr

Ghost Hunter

While playing as the ghosts is certainly enjoyable, Hidden Side was designed for taking on the role of the ghost hunters. This gameplay is focused almost exclusively upon interactivity with the models and you will therefore be asked to choose which set you are going to explore. Eight separate locations are available at the moment but the map will expand to encompass further sets in the future.

Hidden Side App

Each location features entirely different environments and I initially chose 70423 Paranormal Intercept Bus 3000 which is among my favourite sets from the theme. The subject should be positioned on level surfaces for scanning, although I have found the scanner to be rather forgiving and the resultant effect is impressive. Of course, the resolution of the physical model will depend partly upon the quality of the camera.

View image at flickr

Gameplay is focused predominantly upon clearing gloom spots which are separated according to their relevant colour spectrum. Twisting the colour wheel to show yellow, for instance, will prompt the player to search for yellow gloom spots. Once discovered, these colourful spots are scanned and 'degloomed' to unlock currency or collectable items.

View image at flickr

However, scanning gloom spots will sometimes cause ghosts to emerge, as demonstrated during my exploration of 70425 Newbury Haunted High School. These characters fly around the screen, hurling gloom and other projectiles at the player while you seek to vanquish them. The gameplay is relatively simple, although the ghosts' motion does vary significantly and I think the difficulty level is appropriate.

View image at flickr

Furthermore, you might occasionally be prompted to make alterations to the set, including positioning minifigures on 2x2 plates with two studs or uncovering colourful bricks to be scanned. This interaction with the physical model distinguishes the Hidden Side app from previous LEGO mobile games and its variety is appreciated, even though I think these activities could be slightly more frequent.

View image at flickr

70425 Newbury Haunted High School offers particularly notable transformation once you uncover the featured Soul Artefact. Such accessories are connected to boss ghosts that occupy the sets, including an intimidating teddy bear named Mr. Nibs! Defeating these ghosts can become challenging as you try to avoid their attacks but I think that seems suitable, given their apparent importance.

View image at flickr

Overall

Physical models have always been the focus of my interest in LEGO, although I have enjoyed some LEGO video games too. My expectations for the Hidden Side app were accordingly fairly low but this has proven to be a pleasant surprise! The scanning functionality is superb and the surrounding digital environment seems remarkably extensive, introducing exceptional dynamism to each model.

View image at flickr

Moreover, the gameplay provides reasonable variation and I can envisage its collectable aspects will appeal to younger players. I am similarly pleased with how colour wheels have been integrated within most Hidden Side models, without spoiling their design. For these reasons, I would recommend trying the Hidden Side app, even if only to view the environment which surrounds each set.

You can view the Hidden Side app device requirements here.

Have you explored the Hidden Side app and are you enjoying it? Let us know in the comments.


You can read our Hidden Side set reviews here:

33 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

This seems like a really positive app! I will look into picking these sets up :)

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By in United States,

It's great to see that the app experience is just as well executed as the models themselves. The app is the one thing I've wanted to try from this theme, but unfortunately my device isn't compatible with the right hardware requirements. If Hidden Side is still around when I get a new phone, I'll be sure to give it a try.

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By in United Kingdom,

The sets by themselves are fantastic and this app is only just selling this theme to me, I need to get that shrimp shack and that awesome bus. One of the greatest original LEGO themes in recent years.

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By in United States,

Cool functions, but I feel like eventually lego is going to have you download instructions off the internet.

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By in United Kingdom,

Nice to see a bit of the app here, as I can't get it myself. My phone's not compatible, which is annoying 'cause I was planning to get a couple of these sets until I found that out. Still, at least I found out before buying them.

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By in United States,

I really enjoy the app but am disappointed at a few things. First, some of the sets are barely used. Take 70419 Wrecked Shrimp Boat. The secondary wreckage portion is not used at all. It would of been nice for events to happen that the boat had to be split and moved to this side set. 70421 El Fuego's Stunt Truck doesn't make sure of the secondary vehicles at all. There are minor things that are nice, like the Stunt Truck has a part where you need to remove the engine and 70425 Newbury Haunted High School does require you to rotate the school. So more side things to do would of been appreciated. The fact that despite the box showing app interaction 40336 Newbury Juice Bar is not in the app is a major disappointment.

It is also entirely too easy to clear the Ghost Hunter side. Only 3 plays of a set with net you a 100% and the rewards on the Ghost Hunter side are severely lacking. You should also get Ghost experience for each Ghost you defeat and the Gloom and Spirit you get is next to nothing compared to one run through the Ghost side.

My top Ghost is around level 40 with no top level in sight so even harder difficulties for Ghost side would be nice. Hopefully they release new play levels also as there is only so many times you can play Graveyard.


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By in United States,

Ghosts pursued by a giant mobile phone in the sky must be very confused by their experience of the afterlife.

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By in United States,

Soooo... you can play a game on your phone about ghosts, but in the game you are being chased by a phone presumably wielded by a person playing the game? I'm confused.

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By in Belgium,

Thanks for this review Cap! Regrettably we don't have any phones that are compatible with this app, my son was quite disappointed after building the high school. There really high requirements so I suggest maybe adding a line to that effect so people check?

The set was definitely still a hit and he's been playing with it after building but you can imagine that a kid might be disappointed that it doesn't work. I guess I should have checked but my phone is only a few months old so I thought it was going to be fine!

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By in Italy,

The problem is that you must have not only a recent smartphone but a specific one compatible with google ARcore, a platform for augmented reality. There is a list on the lego site of compatible devices. In fact, after purchasing set 70419 Wrecked Shrimp Boat I discovered that my Redmi Note 5 is not compatible, even if it is a good smartphone. The set itself is very nice, especially the minifigures

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By in Ireland,

My iPhone isn’t compatible and I don’t plan to replace it until it dies. :(

Pity as I just got the Wrecked Shrimp Boat yesterday.

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By in United Kingdom,

The same as many others, not compatible with any of our phones or tablets. So no interest for my kids. It is a shame they don't have software that runs on most existing tablets or phones.

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By in United States,

My mother’s phone is compatible with the app, as is my current one. However, I do understand people being disappointed by their devices not being compatible. As for the app itself, it’s a pleasant surprise; I thought that they’re be very little to do without the sets at first (even with Ghost Mode only having one location). Hunter mode is pretty cool, although I’m not very good at finding the Gloom spots on the Lab set. I had more luck with Graveyard Mystery and the little I’ve played of Shrimp Shack Attack, so maybe larger sets have more areas to search? Either that or LEGO’s secretly making the game easier for people who spend more money on the sets.

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By in United Kingdom,

I was quite pleased to find it all worked on my 3 year old iPhone 7 - but must admit I was utterly bemused by what was going on and what my objective was, even more so at the end when I got ‘subscribers’ as a reward?! Still, it all seemed good fun and the graphics were surprisingly expansive for the world around the scanned model. I’m intrigued enough to give it another go sometime soon...

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By in United Kingdom,

Does anyone know how to stop the ghosts from grabbing the screen and taking away all your battery? (In game). I find that, particularly with the boss ghosts, if they grab the screen and start smacking you round the face it’s impossible to do anything to stop it and you sometimes takes loads of hits before they let go.

Another aspect not touched on in the review is the upgrades - over time once you acquire enough of them (like dealing more damage), ghosts become a little easier to capture, but it requires plenty of play throughs and unlocks to get enough in-game gloom to do this.

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By in Australia,

I know I'm getting old when I read that review very carefully, and barely understood a single word.

I'm gonna be over in the corner playing with my Lego sets.

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By in United States,

@The Rancor - I asked support about that and they said you are supposed to shake the screen. The problem is if you shake the screen the set goes out of focus and it pauses the game. They said they would look into it.

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By in Germany,

@Finn2187 "Cool functions, but I feel like eventually lego is going to have you download instructions off the internet"

Like with Dimensions?

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By in Netherlands,

Nice review and I can get why you split it from the main set reviews.

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By in Romania,

Not sure if I will get any of the Hidden Side sets, but I will check out the app for sure.

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By in Poland,

I found app very simple and unimpressed. I expected way more doscoveries and way less shooting.
Its even barrely uses the augumented reality idea.

Graphicwise I still hate how not minifig like the ghost are.

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By in Puerto Rico,

Looks great.

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By in United Kingdom,

@swaggers Huh, is that a recent thing? I asked them about it a couple of weeks ago and was told you just had to wait it out. Same was true of a review I left on the app store, the dev team said it was just a case of waiting it out/ tapping the screen as much as possible. Any time I've tried shaking it hasn't been effective, don't think there is really a clear cut way to deal with them.

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By in United States,

@Fatoran It was a reply from LEGO support via their email contact.

QUOTE: "As for shaking off ghosts, you can shake them off by shaking the device that's running the app! I hope you enjoy the game!"

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By in Germany,

Same here: not one compatible phone in the household. So screw this augmented reality thing.

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By in Czech Republic,

Huw + Rex, I have to say that Im disappointed by the review. Not that you would be a bad writer but i was teased by your line that you at first tested the "hidden bus" - but I can not see any pictures, results.. what was it like.. what you scanned.. why should i get this set for a kid.. what to expect?.. I would wish you were more focused on a discovery of a "partcular" set than mixing up the feelings of the entire serie altogether and now nobody is any wiser what to ACTUALLY expect from playing / interaction with any single set of this theme.

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By in United States,

But happens at the end of the Hidden Side gaming app?

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By in Sweden,

I've played a bit with the app and one of the sets. I got bored in like 10 minutes. I suspect that the audience is 10 years old.

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By in Singapore,

^ You were close. If you look at the boxes you'll notice that the sets are made for kids 7+ to 9+! Worse still the app itself uses standard ratings in the 3+/4+ range!

Seriously though. What's up with AFOLs stating the obvious and trying to make that reflect badly on LEGO? Grown-up tries kid's product, gets bored; grown-up concludes that kid's product is targeted at kids. Gee, who would've thought?

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By in Singapore,

Thanks for the review. I agree that some sets seem underutilized by the app, although I understand that some builds need to be completely digital so they can be animated. Other than that, gameplay looks pretty fun and it's nice to see that there's a separate gamemode for those who don't own any of the sets, so they don't miss out completely on the Newbury app experience.

Now all that's left is for me to decide if it's worth investing in one particular Hidden Side set just to take the AR for a spin, because I don't intend on collecting Hidden Side. I've heard that the Newbury Juice Bar doesn't interact with the app in any way and I don't know if they plan to add support for it in an update, so I can't rely on the GWP.

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By in Netherlands,

If the compatibility issues are anything to go by, this does not bode well for all those recent app controlled Technic sets.

In any case, I am with @Zordboy on this: I am too old for this ... ;-)

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By in United States,

they already do have some instructions downloads available like the 3 in 1 shark, forgot # but need download get 4th whale

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