Duck Hunt for Nintendo was a game-changer way back when. For a similar experience these days that easily integrates with your digital life, there’s the Xappr. The Xappr gun by MetalCompass mounts your smartphone and leverages its beautiful screen, camera, and processing power to deliver a variety games including multiplayer and even augmented reality games. Xappr can mount nearly any Android phone, iPhone, or iPod Touch.
The Xappr gun has an interestingly simple design. It’s sleek, futuristic, and comfortable to hold and shoot. With its abnormal shape, orange end cap, and orange trigger, the matte black plastic gun will unlikely be mistaken for anything but a toy gun. The phone mount is a pretty big tip-off too. The phone mount has an adjustable clamp with rubber grips. Xappr is battery operated (3 AA not included) and has just one button: the trigger. Nicely enough it doesn’t rely on fancy wireless pairing like bluetooth or WiFi, and sticks to basics with a 3.5mm audio plug attached to your phone. Xappr turns on and off automatically and also has a speaker.
There’s a handful of Xappr games for iPhone and Android, and all compatible games can be found in an app called Metal Compass. The Xappr platform is open to developers, which really brings up the value of the device. For this reason, we found that the available games vary on usability, gameplay, and overall experience. Right now, they’re mostly Arcade type games where you’re playing for points, and it can be pretty fun. There’s a few augmented reality games that use your camera’s live display to impose gameplay on top of your surroundings. There’s also a few multiplayer games that are compatible with other Xappr guns, like Laser Tag AR.
Most of the games are free or free with advertisements, otherwise they’re only a dollar or two. Like any other platform, some games are better than others. Some games require for 360 degree motion, which is fun but also exhausting. Pirate Bay is a fun western shooting game where you’re shooting targets 180 degrees in front of you, nicely enough with this app you can use your finger if you want to limit how much you have to turn. To keep things up with the western theme, you can see who’s the quickest draw in the west with iGunslinger.
We’ve reviewed two similar products that also leverage iPhone’s screen and technology to deliver next-level gaming. We reviewed Hasbro’s Lazer Tag Blasters, which have a much more detailed design and robust app, but the guns are limited to their one Lazer Tag app. We also reviewed the Duo Gamer Controller which pairs to your smartphone or tablet and few robust console-like video games. It’s fun, but a different experience entirely. Xappr games are much more simple, as is the design of the gun, which is why we like it. Setting up a game is as quick as securing your phone inside the rubber grip. You’ll want to use a protective case with your phone, as there’s no real protection provided when you set the gun down (or drop it). The grip is strong and secure, and quick to insert and remove a phone, but it uses a wheel for tightening which isn’t so comfortable.
The Xappr Gun is a fun device to open your phone up to a new brand of gaming. Try out your target practice or become the quickest shot on this side of town. Xappr costs $59.99, which is pricey considering it doesn’t feel especially expensive. The value is that it’s easy to set up and play and it’s open to app developers, so there’s no limits to the type of games that could potentially be released. Xappr’s a fun way to kill some time and blow off some steam, but it’s definitely going to appeal much more to the youngsters. The Xappr Gun is currently available from Amazon or XapprGun.com.
The Good: Works great, mostly free apps, built-in speaker, easy to set up, comfortable, good trigger feedback, open to developers, works with iPhone, iPod, and Android.
The Bad: Requires 3 AA Batteries (not included), tightening phone clamp can hurt fingers and no free shipping (yet).