Mattel introduces RFID-enabled game console
San Diego (CA) - Mattel, a company known for its children's toys, introduced the HyperScan RFID-enabled game console at the recently completed Comic-Con convention in San Diego. The console combines traditional one-on-one fighting games with collectible superhero cards. Players swipe the card over the console to choose characters and additional cards can be swiped during game play to add more powers or skills. Mattel hopes the unique blend of collectible cards and console portability will attract "tweens" or the 8 to 12 year-old audience.
A few months ago, at the Comic-Con convention in San Diego, we had a sneak peek at Mattel's (yes the toy company) upcoming HyperScan game console. Players of the new console will use RFID-chipped playing cards to track their characters and add new abilities. Mattel is in the final stages of testing and has just released FCC documents that give some more information about the console.
HyperScan will be powered by a Sunplus 32-bit RISC processor running at 108 MHz. The processor can produce VGA graphics along with decoding both MPEG4 video and MP3 audio. HyperScan will have a modest 16 MB of RAM to power the games.
An RFID reader running at 13.56 MHz will scan the embedded tags on the game cards. After each game, players will swipe their cards over the console to upgrade their character's abilities. Winning players receive a larger bonus than losing ones. Up to 128 bytes of information can be written to the card.
The black and red HyperScan console is about the size of a hard cover book when opened and can be folded up for easy carrying. There are two ports in the front for game controllers and a port in the back connects to a television. Games are started by inserting a game CD and then swiping an RFID-enabled character card over the console.
TG Daily and other Comic-Con attendees were able to test drive the console. The featured game, Marvel X-Men, is your typical superhero versus bad-guy fight. Extra "mod" cards can be swiped during the game to give special attacks or bonuses to current abilities. In addition to RFID, each card has some memory to store permanent changes. Both the winner and loser's character will get stronger after every match and players can upgrade the characters by swiping the card over the console.
Graphically, the HyperScan console won't give the Xbox 360 or the upcoming Playstation 3 any trouble, but Mattel officials told us it doesn't matter. "This is aimed at a younger audience and parents will like it because there is no blood or gore," said Sheena Stephens, PR Representative for Mattel.
HyperScan is also trying to cash in on the red-hot collectible card phenomenon. Card-based games like Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh have millions of players and sanction tournaments with millions of dollars in prize money. Rarer cards are often seen selling on Ebay for hundreds of dollars. Perhaps the HyperScan cards are also destined to be as expensive, because almost every card at the Mattel booth was cable-locked to the table.
The HyperScan console will be available in the fall for $70 and include the Marvel X-Men game along with six game cards. Game packs which include a game CD and six cards will be sold for $20, while "Booster Packs" of six cards by themselves will be sold for $10.