The New Stuff

Japanese Kendama game gets a digital upgrade and a Kickstarter campaign


Like all good games, Kendama is easy-ish to learn and frustrating as all ever-loving £%&*@£^% to master. What’s a poor entrepreneur to do when a game hasn’t changed for 400 years? Rename it Dendama, add a boat-load of electronics, invent a slew of multiplayer games and launch a Kickstarter campaign, of course.

Watching someone who knows what to do with a Kendama is mesmerizing; it’s much like a yo-yo, except with a number of additional dimensions added. For the digital Dendama edition, the company adds a huge amount of additional features to the device. Dendama connects to your smartphone using Bluetooth, and uses a giant stack of sensors to understand exactly what you’re doing. This is fed back to the phone, and it scores your efforts.

The company has created a number of new ways of playing, including a battle mode, quest mode, a training mode to perfect tricks and a co-op mode. It sounds a little bit as if the team just brainstormed a load of new games that could be done by digitally enhancing an old-fashioned toy, but the important thing is that this is hella fun.

I tried Dendama at TechCrunch Tokyo at the tail-end of last year, and I’ve got to say: This is about as much fun as you can have without wearing Speedos. Although, come to think of it, there’s literally nothing stopping you from playing Dendama in a Speedo. I expect one of you to rise to the challenge and post a video in the comments below. (Actually, maybe not.) In any case — as a rank beginner, I enjoyed being shown the ropes of how to wave the stick, rope and balls in the air to perform tricks. The digital integration is much more than a gimmick; the team has done a fantastic job adding a layer of interactivity to an established juggling toy.

Famous last words perhaps… but this Kickstarter campaign looks like it might be lower risk than most. The company already completed a small $10,000 crowdfunding campaign on the Japanese Makuake site, and the main purpose of the Kickstarter campaign appears to be to take on the not insignificant number of Kendama players internationally.

Don’t miss the company’s Kickstarter campaign to see how “You can take the safe route of doing rapid easy tricks or live on the edge and go for that one trick that will make it rain down like a storm on your opponent.” Legendary.

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