The nice folks at Galaxy sent me a set to play with my son. We had previously reviewed the Anki Drive racing game which is a perfect point of comparison for the Zega.
In several respects, they are more than a bit similar:
- Cool high-tech racing cars with special powers including missile-launching (AKA “tanks”)
- Real-life play but controlled using tablet or phone interface
- Increasing car power, speed, and agility (player-based) tracked by experience/time played
The Galaxy Zega is very different however because it un-tethers the cars from a track (Anki cars drive on tracks with embedded dots so they are always situationally aware and learning). With Galaxy, you could potentially play throughout the house up to the Bluetooth 4.o range of 200 feet. You aren’t restrained by any sort of track and with strong wheels can even climb over some obstacles. This means you have to steer your car far more but you have to be far more accurate in your shooting. NOTE: Anki a year ago introduced modular track so that players can set up new courses. However, cars must still stay on this track.
In the Galaxy Zega starter kit, you get two cars, 10 walls, a rotating wall, and a dozen floorboards. In it’s simplest setup, you can play wholly within a walled rectangle about 29″ x 39.” Like in many video games, you move your car back and forth hoping to find a position to take pot-shots at your enemy. If you played “Tank” on Atari, in the arcade or even the more recent Wii version, you know exactly how this works. Galaxy Zega is the video game brought to life when played in this setting. Like an RC toy, your commands are forward/backward, right/left, and shoot missiles.The revolving wall adds a fun dimension; give it a push and you might suddenly have a clear shot. You can take down these walls and can race outside of the confines of the small space, hiding behind chairs and furniture. The real fun, however, is when you add “Base” squares.
The X-base squares, also Bluetooth, are easily added from your tablet game interface. Using one X-base, competitors can roll over it to add new powers, or if using two, they can be “capture-the-flag” style targets for gamers to find and attack while opponents are out finding their own. Imagine if you have to go to living room searching for your opponent’s base while he is frantically searching in the kitchen for yours. This is entirely possible using the Galaxy Zega. Nothing like this would work in Anki.
On the other hand, the Zega Galaxy does not have AI. While the cars (based on player ID) gain more powers, they don’t get smarter, nor can you re-run a race based on what the cars “remember.” This, as you may know, is most amazing part of the Anki Drive experience, though obviously not quintessential to game play. While the Galaxy Zega is different, we did not yearn for more AI in our game play.
One thing that disappoints me in these types of games is that players are adding features all the time based on the amount of game play they are doing. Just because my son plays the game more than I do, should he play against me with a “level 5” car versus my level 3? I wish there were a way to equalize the cars so we both start at zero, or perhaps even have a golf-like par setting so that he is actually handicapped to make our competitions more competitive.
For more info or to order, go to GalaxyZega.com. The set without the x-Base is $149. The x-bases are sold separately for $29.99 and are especially recommended to get the most out of the game. Additional pieces including ramps, extra walls and added swinging gates are available at: galaxyzega.com/battlefield/. Finally, you can make the Zega a 4-person game by adding two more cars for $99.