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Friday, June 05, 2015

Review: Robot Turtles

I was a kickstarter backer of the Robot Turtles board game way back when. I did it mostly to support a Googler, but also partly because the kickstarter promised to teach my toddler how to program. My understanding of toddler hood is that it's somewhere between 1 and 3. I'm guessing that Dan Shapiro's toddlers must have been very advanced,  because even at 2 years of age, Bowen didn't want to do much with the board game except spew the counters all over the floor. I gave up and put it away.

At age 3.5, Bowen now understands the concepts of games, and taking turns. The second time I presented it to him, he finally understood the game, and the idea that playing cards lets you move turtles. He also understands the goal is to move the turtles to a jewel. It took him a while to figure out that the turn left, turn right, and straight ahead cards are turtle-relative, rather than him relative. And he delights in crying out "BUG!".

In just a few days, he's gone from being challenged in getting the turtle to its destination on an empty board, to being able to negotiate a maze, deal with moving crates, and lasering ice walls. I don't go a day without him asking to play Robot Turtles with me, and he loves screaming "BUG!" to reverse a bad move.

I haven't managed to get him into the planning stage of the game, where you play 3 moves at once, and of course, that's necessary in order to get to the part of the game where you build subroutines. But given the amount of play Bowen's gotten out of it, suffice to say that it's been worth the $25 kickstarter price or the current $21 Amazon price.

The nit-picks are that the instructions refer to an online video to teach you how to play the game. That video is non-existent (Shapiro probably got bored trying to make it). It would be nice if the game came with sample mazes, etc. It's not a big deal that such refinements aren't there, but they're so obviously that it's disappointing that they're not.

Nevertheless, the game comes recommended.

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