We've already come across Bossa Nova Robotics' remote controlled Mechatars before, at last year's Toy Fair in fact, but now they're ready for public consumption and Pocket-lint got the chance to see the online role playing game aspect of the new USB connected toys.
Demonstrated to us at Toy Fair 2012 in London, Mechatars is a range of interactive battling robots that, when coupled to a PC, can be used within the Mechaverse, an online, in-browser fighting game that rewards power-ups, extra purchases and continued play.
Each Mechatar - there will be three main ones on launch - can learn new skills and abilities as a child plays with them more, either in the real world through a supplied remote control, or via their online virtual counterparts. They can also be enhanced with the use of add-on weaponry, called Power Packs, which connect to each Mechatar using mini USB and will therefore appear in your online inventory when hooked up.
These are massively helpful in the Mechaverse, as the point of the in-browser game is to battle against other Mechatars in order to earn experience and level up. It's essentially a cross between Street Fighter II and the battle sequences in the Final Fantasy games, as fights are turn based like the latter, but with beat-em-up style health bars at the top. Naturally, the winner gets more of the spoils.
Cleverly, Bossa Nova is allowing anybody to sign up and play in the Mechverse without the need to buy any of the toys. However, there will be only so far that you can get without any power ups or increasingly more beefy 'bots. The real-world Mechatars can also gain plenty of experience in offline mode too, so while you might have a superb and unbeaten online character for a while, you'll soon come up short when you meet a rival who's been training one of the purchasable robots.
Another incentive to buy the Mechatar toy packs is that two real world robots can actually talk to each other wirelessly, and can therefore be battled against each other through their intuitive remotes. It's a feature that will reward those who have friends who buy into the same franchise.
The last add-ons for the initial batch of Bossa Nova toys come in the form of Exomorphs, two (for the time being) robot scorpions that can be used like supercharged Hexbugs, but can also follow vocal commands to attack, barked from a kid's Mechatar. Again, these appear in the online world too and can present some powerful attacking options.
There's certainly plenty of play to be had with the Mechatars, and the Mechaverse is a neat idea. It's already been running in the US for while, but will hit the UK from summer time.
To find out more, visit ILoveRobots.com.