originals\ Aug 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm

The updated Sphero is a gaming system truly like no other


Here at GameZone, we got the privilege to interact with robotic ball of joy – the Sphero.  I’d be lying if I said we didn’t play with this thing for a few hours the first day we got it in the office.  We may or may not have made a video about it.  Dat obstacle course

Anyhew, for those who don’t know, the Sphero is the world’s very first robotic ball gaming system.  This bad boy is controlled via your iOS or Android device.  Sometimes the Sphero is the game and sometimes it is the controller.  Not only does Orbotix update and continuously make new apps for their Sphero, but they encourage third party developers to create apps as well.  The more the merrier I say.

On the most basic level, think of the Sphero as a Bluetooth remote control ball.  The range and its ability to roll on thick carpet surpassed my expectations.  On top of all that, it can operate on water… ON water.  While all of this is pretty awesome for a robotic sphere, it is only the most basic of operations it can perform.  Besides changing colors, the more advanced functions all come though the multiple apps.

As of today, there is an updated firmware that offers the Sphero better locomotion.  Now when you turn you aren’t forced to do wide arches and can now use vector drive to reverse.  I’m no programmer, but to be able to add a function like that through software alone seems pretty remarkable to me.  With today’s patch, developers get SDK updates and the Golf app has been also updated.

Along with the updates out today, there are a handful of new apps by Orbotix and third party developers.  The theme of this wave of apps is ‘multiplayer.’  When it comes to Sphero, multiplayer can mean one-device or multiple-devices depending on the app. Colorgrab is a multiplayer game for those with only one Sphero.  You set the ball on a table and you are told which color to grab.  When you see the Sphero flash that color you grab it and you’ll receive points depending on your reaction time.

Tag is a multiplayer game that requires multiple Spheros.  You all casually drive around until one turns red.  The red ball is ‘vulnerable’ to collision from the other players.  If you are hit during this time you lose a life.  Tag is a survival / last man standing game.

On September 14th, version V2 is coming out.  This update will take user suggestions and make them a reality.  Instead of having multiple basic apps, they will all be combined into one hub app.  From here, you can use the camera and drive in one place, aiming will be faster and easier, and instead of just being able to boost you’ll have a variety of macros you can set up.  These apps include figure 8s, rainbow, square motions, etc. 

Games to play by using the Sphero as a controller will include a space fighter called Exile, the fish inside has a game called Last Fish, and DoodleGrub allows you to control a grub to get larger by stuffing its face.

So the update today and the one coming September 14th should dispel the illusions that the Sphero is only a remote control ball.  Between Orbotix and third party developers, the Sphero has just started its spherical gaming reign.

Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ

About The Author
Andrew Clouther Human, historian, teacher, writer, reviewer, gamer, League of Pralay, Persona fanboy, and GameZone paragon - no super powers as of yet. Message me on the Twitters: @AndrewC_GZ
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