About this time last year we announced the release of Sifteo Cubes Intelligent Play - a system where age-old building blocks are given a thoroughly modern reworking, with cubes sporting a touch-sensitive color LCD display, onboard sensing technology, an embedded computer and games and puzzles sent wirelessly from a nearby PC or laptop. Now the educational gameplay system has been treated to an update. The addition of a new Sifteo Base to the system allows players of the next generation system to venture beyond the radio range of the previous version. The maximum number of cubes available for gameplay has also been doubled for more complex puzzles, to unlock new levels or just to get more family members involved in the action.
The addition of the compact Sifteo Base eliminates the need for a nearby computer during gameplay by being able to store games on the unit itself and wirelessly communicate with the Cubes. It's battery-powered for portability and also features a built-in speakers for in-game audio. Users can buy and add games to the unit using Sifteo Sync desktop software and, as the name suggests, the new games automatically download to the Sifteo Base when it's plugged into a computer via USB.
The original system supported the shaking, tilting, flipping, wiggling, sliding or stacking of up to six 1.7-inch (43 mm), motion-aware Sifteo Cube blocks at any one time but the next generation system has expanded that to 12. Each cube boasts a 32-bit ARM processor, a full-color touch-sensitive LCD display, proximity sensors and a 3-axis accelerometer, and is powered by an AAA-type battery, that should last for over 10 hours.
Sifteo has also revealed a new partnership with Nickelodeon, which will result in the release of four new games for the system. The first of those will be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ninja Slide, that's scheduled for release in November. The company has also partnered with creator of the card game Magic: The Gathering, game designer Richard Garfield, to create a new game for early 2013.
Third party developers, hobbyists, and design studios will get their chance to create and publish Sifteo games and applications with the release of a new software development kit on October 1.
Like the version before it, the next generation Sifteo Cubes system will ship with three cubes but the new Sifteo Base with built-in speaker will also be included (and have four brand new titles pre-loaded). Five AAA batteries, a micro USB cable and a soft carry case have also been thrown in for good measure.
It's up for pre-order now for US$129.95, with a November 2012 shipping window. Add-on cubes are priced at $29.95 each.