ToysBulletin.com looks at a one-person mind challenge from ThinkFun.
Every once in a while we start a review with the word “Wow!” This is one of those reviews. “ThinkFun,” working with Luke Hooper, the designer of the highly successful two-player game called “The Laser Game: Khet 2.0” (see our review on 25 March 2011), has now invented a one-player game aptly named “Laser Maze.” This new game is ready to tax the minds of youngsters as young as 8 years old and adults of all ages.
“Laser Maze” includes a game grid measuring 7” x 7”. The grid has 25 molded cells (5 across and 5 down) where any of the 11 game tokens can be placed. There are 6 different types of game tokens, including one that shoots a laser beam in one of four directions.
The remaining tokens reflect/split the beam in different directions, or can serve as a pass through or cell blocker. The object of the game is to select one of the 60 challenge cards, ranging from beginner to intermediate to advanced and finally to expert (15 in each category), and set up the grid as shown on the card. Then the player must add additional tokens to the grid such that when the laser beam is activated, it hits one or more target tokens.
The first few beginner challenge cards are very easy, as only a couple of game tokens are needed on the grid to successfully allow the laser beam to hit the target token. It is best not to skip any of the initial challenge cards, as there is much to be learned regarding the placement and functions of each of the different types of game tokens.
For example, one of the game tokens can split the beam into two paths; one is reflected 90 degrees and another passes straight through the token. Another token is a double mirror and both sides can reflect the beam 90 degrees. In some cases a cell blocker is placed on a challenge card to confuse things even more, as this type of token prohibits the placement of any token in that particular cell. A pass through token forces the player to shoot the beam through an arch, even though it does not reflect the laser beam. Finally, there are 5 tokens that can serve as either a target or a 90-degree reflective mirror.
The token that houses the laser beam does require two button batteries, AG13 (included). The battery life is not really a concern, as the batteries are only used when the button on the top of the token is pressed, and the laser beam is momentarily lit. However, they can be replaced easily when necessary.
The Toys Bulletin staff took turns playing this highly addictive game over a two-week period. Two of us completed all 60 cards, but it was not without a few mishaps along the way. There were several challenges which we were sure could not be solved.
We even shamefully admit to having looked at the solution on the back of the cards. In each case, we were wrong. The solution was right there in front of us. Our biggest mistake was not paying attention to the number of targets designated on the front of the card. In other words, we would set up the solution so that the laser beam hit only 1 target, when the challenge card clearly indicated 2 targets must be hit.
“Laser Maze” is a very special addition to the game world. You honestly cannot stop playing, and once you get going, you will want to tackle multiple challenge cards. The quality of the playing pieces is top notch and the instructions and challenge cards are colorful and laid out very well. There is also a “symbols key card” included that helps identify the different types of tokens and their proper orientation. This is simply a superb single player game.
“Laser Maze” retails for $29.99 and can be purchased at Amazon.com. Do not miss this one.
— RJ Cullen