Review: Bloxels

Today I’ll be talking about another product Timberdoodle sent me to review as part of Rebecca’s continuing education. This one is a build-your-own video game kit called Bloxels. The kit is made up of two main components: 1) the 13×13 plastic design board with little cubes of various colors, and 2) the downloadable Bloxels game app. Bloxels is a complete game in and of itself, with no building or designing necessary to actually play it. However, the building and designing options are what makes this game unique.

The problem is I’m not into video games. Never have been. On my phone and tablet you’ll find thinking games like Sudoku, Mahjong, and logic puzzles. I think I just don’t have the hand-eye coordination for the classic arcade style video games. Lyle has always been pretty good at them and the girls have enjoyed playing them with him.

Since Bloxels is part of Timberdoodle’s 2nd Grade Curriculum Kit I thought it would be easy for Rebecca to figure out and play with on her own. Turns out, it wasn’t. I’m not exactly sure why because I’ve read reviews from other Timberdoodle families whose kids were able to just take the game and run with it. Maybe it’s a difference in learning styles or something.

Rebecca was able to download the app to my tablet and work through the tutorial. She played the game a bit, and then built a character and a game board using patterns provided in the book that came with it.

We all thought it was cool that you can create your character and/or game board using the real-life plastic game board and then take a picture with the app on the tablet to get it into your game. After that, there are options for making slight changes to create animation effects, and you can even change colors if you want a different color than the 8 colors available with the plastic cubes.

The problem Rebecca had was trying to integrate her character with her game board. That being the case, both Laura and I sat down with it to see if we would fare any better. I’m not sure we did.

I tried playing the game first, just to familiarize myself with it. Since I’m admittedly not very good at video games, my character kept “dying” on the second or third screen. Okay, that’s just par for the course for me. I tried creating a game board and taking a picture. Check. (It was a very poor design due to my lack of knowledge about how video games work, but we won’t talk about that.) Like Rebecca I couldn’t figure out how to integrate my custom character into my custom game. I’m sure there’s a way. I just expected it to be a little more intuitive than it was.

Even though this game didn’t work out all that well for us, I still think it’s a really cool concept. I’m sure that kids who are into video games would love the opportunity to build their own levels. I can see where it would encourage creativity and critical thinking.

In the process of trying to understand this product I came across several videos that explain it better than I can. There are some on the Timberdoodle product page for this kit, and here are a couple more that were very helpful to me.

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