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With the incredible popularity of Minecraft, it’s not surprising to see other games expand upon its winning creation formula. Toca Builders is one such offering, but it uses the template for additional aims. This kid-oriented app from Toca Boca adds some interesting twists to the core concept of “building with blocks” and gives kids the chance to be creative while also employing problem-solving skills.
Toca Builders is all about construction and creativity. There are no monsters to fight or shelters to build in these colorful, block-based worlds. Instead, the game features six characters, each with unique skills ranging from painting to creating and destroying blocks, as well as moving around existing blocks. And that’s the educational part: In order construct something, you'll need to figure out which builder is best suited to the current task.
Each character features one of two control methods and a special mechanic that’s unique to it. Half of the characters travel around the world freely by rolling your finger on a ball on the bottom right of the screen. Meanwhile, the other characters can only travel in straight lines, and are rotated 90 degrees by swiping an arrow. While the latter control scheme probably keeps you from making unwanted mistakes, it proves a bit more time-consuming. Luckily, you can change the color each character is working with, which keeps post-construction painting to a minimum.
Toca Builders starts you off with an empty world most of the time, but every fifth world you create features a pre-designed setting to give you some ideas. Luckily, there’s no limit on how many worlds you can create.
While the game offers plenty of space to flex your creative muscle, however, it does have a six-block height limit, which is somewhat disappointing. There's also no in-game tutorial, and instructions can only be read on the parent page, which may frustrate some kids who want to dive right in. The control icons aren’t always self-explanatory, either, and there’s no way to know which character does what without a lot of trial and error.
The bottom line. Even with some flaws, Toca Builders is a colorful and imaginative game that proves plenty of fun while encouraging problem-solving skills in younger players.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Great children's tool for encouraging creativity and problem-solving.
No in-game tutorial. Six-block height limit.