I will always try out any product developed by Toca Boca. Founded in 2010, they make digital toys for children that engage the imagination and allow parents to play along, too. No rules, no time limits, no in-app purchases, coupled with excellent graphics and an easy listening soundtrack. This is a parent and kid-friendly company. Since my four-year-old son enjoys watching his dad play Minecraft, I had a feeling we found a winner when Toca Boca came out with Toca Builders this summer.
With a crew of six building robots, players wander across a tiled floor, destroying at will. You are architect, contractor, builder, and demolition expert all at once.
Connie enables you to lift and move blocks precisely where you want them.
Blox has a backpack that automatically lays out blocks. He can also crush these blocks simply by walking into them.
Cooper paints by rolling over the ground. You can change colors as often as you like and turn the paint function off to pass by without painting.
Stretch makes himself as tall as necessary to place blocks in mid-air; great for roofing!
Jum-Jum changes the color of any block by spraying paint at it. Spraying for longer periods of time changes more blocks.
Vex, last but not least, is my son’s favorite builder. Vex can jump, Vex can put down blocks while jumping. With Vex you can build stacks, walls, and staircases.
Once you open the app, you have the choice of creating a new world or working on one of your existing creations–thank you autosave! There are two ways to move your robot: Slide your finger on a ball at the bottom of the screen or swipe an arrow to travel in straight lines or turn at 90-degree angles. Bear in mind, the maximum height to build upwards is six blocks and every fifth world you create will populate with “extras.” My son seems to prefer having a blank slate each time, and rarely goes back to a previously created world.
We allow our son five minutes of gaming at a time. With most games he kicks up a bit of a fuss. With Toca Builders, when we say his time is up he takes a snapshot to store in his camera roll and then happily moves on, like a junior architect saving his work for later. I can only attribute this to the calm pace of the game which is completely at his control. He is never frustrated by what he can’t do; he simply enjoys what he can.
To see how older kids would respond, I had a fourteen-year-old friend sit down with it for awhile one afternoon. She enjoyed it, and noted its similarity to Minecraft calling it “Minecraft Junior,” but it isn’t something I think she would pick up of her own volition. She enjoyed the colors, the tools of each robot, and the ways they interacted, but it was definitely more of a hit with my preschooler. The game is aimed at kids five and older; my son, at four, isn’t getting as much out of it as he will this time next year. More advanced users can find building plans on Toca Boca’s YouTube page. This is a game that will grow with your child; grow until he or she is ready for something like Minecraft, in fact!
Call it a modern sandbox, a digital Lego set, or a mini Minecraft, this is a great game.
GeekMom received this item for review purposes.