Design a video game with Bloxels, and then play the game YOU designed! This game is a great educational creative play experience that any kid will enjoy.
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Planning and Design Made Fun with Bloxels
My kids were super excited when they found out that we would receive a review copy of Bloxels: Build Your Own Video Game. In this game, you use small plastic cubes to build characters, and then a game world. You use your tablet’s camera to scan the characters and game board into the game. Then you play your own custom video game! Designing the characters is a fun way to explore pixelated art, and designing games builds useful planning skills.
My 14-year-old nephew was visiting the first week we pulled out this game, and he was incredibly helpful in getting the kids started. Be sure to check out his review of this game at the end of the post!
All four of my children enjoyed creating characters and games. They quickly discovered that designing a game requires critical thinking. What do you want the character to accomplish? What barriers are in their way? How can they overcome these barriers? How do you create a game that is *just challenging enough* without becoming frustrating? A couple of Anna’s games were actually impossible – you can’t expect a four-year-old to plan out a video game!
Once you design your character and game, it’s time to play! Bloxels pairs with both Android and iOS devices (see full specs here). You take a picture of your characters and game board:
And start to play! Since you don’t need the actual Bloxel board to play, another child can build new characters or another level while one child plays.
This game seems to drain tablet battery life pretty quickly. My nephew says it’s because of the graphics, and he usually knows what he’s talking about.
Bloxel Review: 14-year-old Edition
My nephew (a rising high school freshman) got my kids up and running with this game. I asked for his opinion, and he wrote up this review for me to feature.
Pros of Bloxel
I found the game board easy to use and set up. The resulting game, once scanned into the app, is highly customizable and usually pretty fun to play. The instructions packet included with the game board is very simple and easy to follow. The app is moderately well designed, but could use a few changes. The camera scan feature works at least 90% of the time with good lighting, and is very good at finding the exact colors of the blocks on the board. I also like the ability to build characters and backgrounds on the board and scan those in, too, but this functionality is limited.
Cons of Bloxel
The app could really use a simpler interface. Square buttons instead of making them look like signs, clearly labeling everything, and making it easier to exit a game you’re playing would all be definite improvements. It’s difficult to delete blocks inside the app, although you can add them and change their colors.
The tutorials within the app are lengthy, and in my opinion over-detailed. Some contain 40 or more instructions slides.
The ability to create characters and backgrounds is also slightly limited because not all colors of bricks are available in the physical set. Once within the app you can change the colors to a wider range, but this is a hassle.
I realize the game is in a developmental stage, but a few improvements like the ones I mentioned could drastically make it better. As it is, the app itself isn’t very usable for littler kids unless they have help. This is a shame, since they are the ones that actually seem to be the most interested in the idea of creating games.
Board — 4.9 / 5 stars
App — 3.5 / 5 stars; major room for improvement though.
My Bloxels Review
While all four of my children played with this set, my 2nd grader (Lily) and 3rd grader (Johnny) are definitely the most interested. As my nephew noted, they needed quite a bit of help to get started. Both children now build boards and characters which they photograph and place in games, although they do still need help from time to time.
I find this game quite clever. I would love to see the ability to add in math facts or spelling practice between levels for additional educational value.
Bloxels gets bonus points from me because the game is fun as a design tool even without a tablet. I love that my children can build pixelated designs on the board without needing a tablet.
We received this game to review. We received no other compensation, and all opinions are my own.
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