Star Wars Batuu Bounty Hunter: Solo (Not that Solo)
I love Disneyland. I love Star Wars. I cherish the privilege of walking among the immersive worldbuilding of Galaxy’s Edge. I love the Rise of the Resistance ride. I love the Millennium Falcon ride. But... I did not love the Star Wars:Batuu Bounty Hunter game.
This spring, three of my lovely neighbors and I bought the Southern California Resident Weekday 3-day, 1-park per day, ticket package. We had a marvelous time in Disneyland in February. We had a wonderful time in California Adventure in March. But… we could not find a third date that all of us could go together.
Being Star Wars obsessed, I decided to go to Disneyland alone and hang out exclusively in Galaxy’s Edge. I wanted to take the time to appreciate all the lovely worldbuilding set design that the Disney Imagineers had created. And… as a game writer, I decided to use the Disney Play game Batuu Bounty Hunters to explore all the nooks and crannies of this dazzling sci-fi outpost.
Galaxy’s Edge is mind blowing. Star Wars: Batuu Bounty Hunter is not.
The single-player mobile game involves several technology steps… some that are smooth, some that are glitchy. And none that deliver a truly emotionally engaging interactive experience.
Step One: Get your bounty assignment. Find the Bounty Board inside the Galaxy’s Edge Area near Black Spire Station. Tap your MagicBand+ (MB+) to the board’s large button. Starting price for a MB+ is $34.99. They are available for purchase online and at several shops in Disneyland.
The Bounty Board will acknowledge your MB+ tap and assign you a bounty to hunt. You'll see a picture of that bounty, their name, the amount of credits you will earn if you find them, and a brief description of their crimes.
Note: This screen is in the full SoCal sun so is super glare-y and hard to read. I think that you can see the reflectivity issues in my photos. But…not being able to read the words wasn’t gonna stop me. I was excited to get my assigned bounty and ready to take action even if... I didn’t have a narrative understanding of whom I was hunting.
Step Two: Walk away from the assignment panel and watch your MB+. It will be blinking green and pulsing moderately if you are heading in the right direction. As you get closer the blinking becomes stronger and the vibrations are quicker. If you are heading in the wrong direction, your MB+ blinks red and vibrates weakly.
But… this didn’t always work for me. Sometimes I walked away and my MB+ did nothing. Luckily there are plenty of friendly Star Wars costumed Cast Members available nearby to help. On my second round of hunting, I ended up starting and voiding my bounty target five times before my MB+ activated correctly.
Step Three: Watching the green pulses and feeling the vibrations grow stronger, approach doors with control panels. Control panels without doors are dummies. Control Panels with doors that are out of easy reach are also dummies.
Touch your MB+ to the panel and see if your MB+ lights up purple. If your MB+ flashes red, you need to keep hunting. If it's purple, your bounty is hiding behind the door. Note: The door and panel do not do anything. They do not make a sound, a color, flash a light, open up, nothing.
The hunting can become tedious. After the first round of hunting, I proceeded to lap around all of Black Point Station and went to the each of the same doors one more time. And… many of the doors can only be reached by climbing over a sea of strollers. I wish that I had captured a picture of one of those impromptu obstacle courses to show you.
Step Four: Once your MB+ shows purple it’s time to open your phone find the Disneyland app and capture your bounty. In the Disneyland app, scroll to Play Disney and open that sub-app. Inside Play Disney there are mobile games for all Disney locations in North America and even some play at home games. Scroll through these many, many, many games until you come to Star Wars: Batuu Bounty Hunters.
And... inside Disney Play, there is another Star Wars game that seems similar. It's called Star Wars: Datapad and that tripped me up. I saw other people on the wrong game and tried to help them. In other words...it's a very fussy path to get to the user screen that you want.
Once you find the Star Wars: Batuu Bounty Hunters game, open it up and find the Guild Toolbox panel with Launch Thermal Viewer.
Step Five: Hold your phone so that you can see the entire door through your camera and press Launch Thermal Viewer. Keep pressing the thermal viewer button until a transparent image of your bounty appears on your phone screen. You have found your bounty. Your bounty is not moving, does not speak, doesn’t squeal, doesn’t threaten you, it does nothing! I wanted some IRL interaction outside of my phone screen.
If like me, and you've played any other outdoor interactive mobile games like Pokémon Go, you might expect a multi-sensory interaction or and even a skill challenge. Holding the camera and tapping to scan didn't excite my challenge solving brain cells.
Playing this game means looking at your MB+ and your phone and ironically, not really being fully present in the glory of this amazingly designed space. And because it's a single player game, it's not great for teamwork or family togetherness -- which IMO is the spirit of Disneyland.
I spoke to a few other people who were playing near me. A few times I helped people with the tech. Once I tried to celebrate getting simultaneous bounties at doors next to another player. And a few times I silently gave space to someone who had a purple light on their MB+ and was waiting for their gosh-darn scanner app to load. None of these people felt camaraderie or were interested in sharing their experiences.
That could have been due to my not so sparkling personality, but... I don't think that this game offers connection -- either to the game narrative or with other players.
Step Six: Find the Bounty Guildmaster’s Hideout (just to the right of the bounty assignment board), report your find, and get your credit. This is done by inserting your MB+ clad wrist into a hole and having your MB+ scanned for verification. This time you do get some interaction. The wrist scanning has a colorful light. The Guildmaster addresses your success with typical Star Wars good-humored put downs. With your first bounty you are teased about being a lucky novice. With your second you are shown a bit more respect, and on and on.
You also receive credits for your bounty. Everyone that I have talked to says that the credits are worthless. But… I have read that if you capture “All” of the bounties, you will be invited to join the bounty hunters’ guild. I have no way of verifying that.
Step Seven: If you’re ready, you can return to the bounty board and get another assignment. I did three, and started a fourth before I became too bored with the repetition of going to the same doors, and with the lack of emotional engagement through either storytelling or tangible rewards.
I’m glad that I tried it. But I can’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t obsessed with Star Wars lore, theme park design, set design, or architecture.
Two positives: I got to spend a lot of time chatting with Cast Members about how to work the fussy tech – that was perfect for me since I was alone and hadn’t talked to anyone for most of the day. And… I really did scour every millimeter of this exquisitely detailed world. I would not have been able to do that with anyone else unless they were as obsessed with Star Wars as I am.