Galaxy Zega, from Chinese game company SmartX, is that kind of toy. It's pitched as a "Realistic Virtual Tank War Game," but what it really resembles is a sort of remote-control version of bumper cars, with a little strategy thrown in.
The $149 kit comes with two Bluetooth, remote-controlled tanks, a driving terrain and 16 vertical walls that you can place on the floor panels to create boundaries for your battlefield. The object of the game is to drive around, blast your opponent out of existence, gains skills and collect awards (the latter two happen on the app).
Setting up the game is simple. The playing field is actually comprised of 12 flat squares that lock together via magnets. After that, I was able to place the walls along any of each floor panel's four edges. The set also comes with one carousel piece which lets one wall rotate on the playing field.
Galaxy Zega playing field
IMAGE: LANCE ULANOFF/MASHABLE
Each tank, one red and one blue, is a little larger than a fist. They come with charging cases and a dual-plug, single adapter charger so you can charge both at one time. The tanks arrived charged, but I was told we could play for up to eight hours on a single charge.
Once we downloaded the app, connecting to the tanks only required holding the phones over them.
The tanks, which actually have names (Leo and Gondar) are not exactly intelligent. Unless you drive them through the app's super-simple controls (forward, back and left and right), they sit still. They do, though, know when one tank has successfully blasted the other.
Each tank includes lights that let you know when it's connected to the phone and when it's shooting its missile. The app lets you know when the missile is ready to fire.
I started driving my tank around and was immediately startled by how fast it moved. I needed to take a lighter touch on the controls. I also found that I could use more than one control at a time for smooth turns.
The rotating wall was useful for hiding behind and then pushing into the other, attacking tank — this is where the strategy comes in. Each tank has pretty decent power and could ram into the other without, though, causing any physical damage. However, only facing the other tank and shooting it with a virtual missile would temporarily disable it. This state only lasted for a second or two and soon I was racing around, hiding my tank behind walls and then popping out to try and take a kill shot.
My tank had so much power that it would ride up walls and flip over. Sadly, these tanks have no way of righting themselves.
Within minutes I had collected coins and leveled up. My more-skilled opponent had more kills, which helped her acquire (in the app) new, and more dangerous, gameplay skills.
Overall, the app is a bit hokey and doesn't really offer much gameplay backstory, but the sound effects are fun and the controls are simple and obvious.
You get a lot for $149 and you can purchase additional terrain squares, including X-bases, which have built-in functionality to further enhance the game. It would be nice if the tanks also had a little bit more awareness of their environment (like the cars in Anki Overdrive, which can automatically stay on specially made tracks), but I do like the more visceral action in Galaxy Zega.