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A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to get an invite to go to central London, to go to the Bastion Studios and have a look at what hopes to be one of this year’s most interesting mobile toy, Animin.

Now this is not a review of the product, when I saw it, it was still not quite finished, so this is just a look at what looks to be a a great new idea in the mobile gaming world, and a great interactive bit of augmented reality for youngsters.

Animin is a new piece of Augmented Reality tech, that brings a virtual pet to life like never before on mobile devices. The game requires a free app that runs on Android and iOS devices, and you will need an AR Trigger Card which can be purchased for £4.99, the card comes with a code which you then use to unlock the app and start playing. The Cards come in four unique characters, and each pack comes with a sticker and a poster of your chosen character. I will take this moment to say that I am a sucker for a cool bit of packaging, and the Animin packaging is awesome! Original idea, and great fun.

So the actual Animin game has a couple of different levels if you will. The main attraction is that you get your own virtual pet, as I said before there are 4 to choose from, and each looks totally different, and there’s options for boys and girls! This isn’t a gender specific game, anyone can play and anyone can enjoy it!

You have to care for your Animin, feed it, clean up after it, keep it exercised and as you do so you will earn an In-game currency known as Zef Coins. As well as using the Zef Coins to buy food, medicine and in-game items for your Animin, you will need a certain amount of them to make your pet evolve! The Animin will evolve through 4 stages of life, Baby, Kid, Teen and Adult, with each stage providing a new look to your Animin.

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The next level of the product is the mini games, and this is where the Augmented Reality really comes into its own, and what sets Animin apart from other Virtual Pet apps out there.
There are a few mini games that come with the app, but the more characters you have, the more mini games get unlocked. The ones I saw were mini puzzles collecting fruit and a cool shooter type mode with waves of enemies coming at you, where you fire fruit at them to make them go away. The games look great on the screen of your device in normal mode, but take out your AR Card and place it on the table, and the game screen snaps to that point. This means you can then move around while the game stays in the same place, allowing you to look at the puzzle from different angles, zoom in, or give your self a birds eye view. It’s hard to explain it in words but to see it in action is amazing.

As well as this, the developers have added some great ideas into the app that link with your existing device. For example, you can drop in a little Boombox which links into the library you have on your tablet/phone, playing your own music, which your Animin will dance too! There’s also a Synthesiser type option with allows you to create beats and tunes very simply, and a clever Calendar option which you can ask to feed your Animin a set time on a set day if you know you’re going to be busy.

One of the things I was very interested in was something that sadly I couldn’t see for myself at the demo. The developers are hoping that this toy will appeal to parents as well as kids, because Animin allows kids to use their character to safely surf the Internet. Now I can see this being a really big selling point! But like I said I haven’t actually witnessed it for myself, so I wouldn’t like to comment too much!

Animin will be available to download from the App Store on January the 20th 2015 (that’s today!), a nice little addition to your kid’s new tablet or smartphone!

At last year’s London Toy Fair, Animin was hailed as one of the best examples of tech toys of the future. And I would definitely agree! I can’t wait to see this thing released and see what people think. It also makes me wonder what people will be doing with this technology in the next few years, I may have a few ideas myself…

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