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Subject: Gaming Bits: Robot Turtles Review rss

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Jonathan Nelson
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Robot Turtles is a game designed by Dan Shapiro, published by ThinkFun. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players will be programming their turtles to retrieve gems. Each player that is able to acquire their colored gem will win.

To start, each player will choose a colored turtle. They will then receive the token for their turtle, a debug tile, colored jewel tile and a deck of program cards, for the first time game the Laser and Function Frog cards are set aside. The jewel tile is placed in the center of the board. The turtle tile is placed in the nearest right corner to the player. Cards are separated into forward, turn left and turn right piles and placed in front of the player beside the debug tile. The set of Out Loud Rules are read for all the players to here. Once this is complete, play can now begin.

The adult takes on the role of the Turtle Mover, while the kids are the Turtle Masters. Only the Mover can move the turtles and must make funny noises when they do it. The Masters will tell the Mover how to move their turtles. On a player's turn, the Master will select a code card and place it in front of himself. This tells the Mover how to move that player's turtle, either left or right 90 degrees or forward. Once a Master has played a card, play passes to the next player. This continues until all Masters have laid out a sequence of cards that make it possible for their turtle to reach their colored jewel. If a Master wishes to undo a move, they can tap their debug tile and yell "BUG". This takes back the last move and allows the player to play a new code card. Once all the players have reached their jewels, the game is over.

There are unlockables for more advanced play. Ice walls require the Laser cards to melt them. Stone Walls must be maneuvered around. Crates can be pushed out of the way. The most advanced play requires the Function Frog code card. This card is used to represent a repeating sequence of cards that are laid out in a function sequence. This card is placed in the main program in place of that sequence. There are additional maps and ways of playing that are more advanced and can be found on the website as well as in the rulebook.


COMPONENTS
The game consists of several tiles and cards. The board is a nicely made grid of squares that looks like a river or stream. It's really good quality and looks nice. The turtle tokens, jewels, bugs and obstacle tiles are all a bit thin but are sturdy and look really great. The Turtle and bug tiles are shiny and sparkly. They are really great and really capture the kids attention. The cards are regular playing card size and thickness but have a shiny finish that looks nice and will work great with little hands. All the pieces of this have a great thematic look and feel and are very nicely done. My kids love the look of the game.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this one is very expertly done. The flow of directions from beginner games to more advanced games is superbly crafted. There are lots of great pictures and explanations throughout. There are advanced rules for stepping up gradually into the most advanced style of gameplay. There are additional board set ups, faqs for what if this happens. Everything about the rulebook looks amazing and is amazing piece of work. I realize I'm gushing just a bit, but this one is absolutely worthy of all the praise it receives. There aren't many out there that look as nice as this one does. It's a masterpiece.
10 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This game is cute and a bit silly. It's definitely one that the kids really enjoy. Not only is it helping teach children a bit about programming but it also lets them have loads of fun. The game is not long to play even with the younger kids. My daughter understands how to play it and she's 4. We haven't went into the more advanced rules with her yet, but she really enjoyed playing it. The game isn't that difficult for the older kids either, even with the advanced rules. It's definitely a game that will advance as the kids advance in their learning. It's really a lot of fun seeing the kids laugh at Dad as he makes funny noises for the different turtles. My kids really enjoyed this one and I have to say that I enjoyed laughing with them.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Robot Turtles is a light game of turtle programming. This game reminds me in a way of Robo Rally or Twin Tin Bots. The programming aspect is just a little easier for the kids then in those other games. It's definitely an education style game, but you'd never know that when you play it. It's great fun for kids of ages 4 and up. I highly recommend it for any age group of kids up to around 13 or so. It just depends on your kids tastes. We really enjoyed the fact that everyone wins when their turtle reaches a gem. The older kids will have fun cheering on the younger ones as they complete their code. We laughed a lot with this game and look forward to playing it a lot more in the future. You should definitely give this one a try if you have kids. I'm sure they'll love it as much as my kids did.
9 out of 10

For more information about this and other great games, please check out ThinkFun at their site.

http://thinkfun.com
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