We have to begin by saying that we simply loved play testing this game. “Code Master” is a single player game for ages 8 years old and up, and in addition to being fun to play, it also introduces youngsters (and some oldsters too) the basics of programming, stressing flowcharts, movement, direction, and even conditional decision making. The object of the game is to complete programs which direct an Avatar along a path from a given point on a map to an ending Portal using various tokens.
“Code Master” includes 60 different challenge levels (15 each for beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert). Each of the levels is captured in a 7″ x 11″ spiral bound “Map Book,” with 10 totally different maps. In addition, there is a “Guide Scroll” book, also spiral bound, that contains a working space for writing all of the programs. There are 12 different “Guide Scrolls” included. To write the programs, there are colored action tokens (3 colors of 4 each) and 8 conditional tokens. There is also one large Avatar and one large Portal used to mark the beginning and ending spots on each map, along with 8 blue crystals, one or more of which may need to be picked up along the programmed path. The “Map Book” lays out the specific components needed for each level of play, and once gathered, they are placed onto the designated map and “Guide Scroll.”
Here is an example, explaining just how this works. In the “Map Guide,” we select beginner level 3, using map 3 and “Guide Scroll” #1. Map 3 is rectangular in shape containing round spaces numbered from 0 to 5 along the perimeter. Each of the numbered round spaces is connected to one or more of the others by one or more colored (red, blue or green) paths. The instructions for that level indicate that the Avatar should be placed on space #4 and the Portal should be positioned on space #0. In addition, one blue crystal is to be placed on space #1 and another blue crystal on space #5. There are 2 blue action tokens, 1 green action token and 1 red action token used for programming at this level and all of them are placed on “Guide Scroll” #1. To complete this program challenge, the player must place all 4 action tokens on the correct spaces on “Guide Scroll” #1, keeping in mind that as the Avatar follows the program, he must also pick up the two crystals along his path before reaching the Portal. To further help visualize the game, a photo of the “Map Guide,” “Guide Scroll,” and all of the playing pieces for this example accompany this review.
This was a very easy beginning challenge with the program requiring action token movement from blue to green to blue to red. To check that the program is correct, the player should move the Avatar along the programmed path on map 3 and make certain the Avatar lands on the space occupied by the Portal, while picking up both blue crystals along the way.
The challenges obviously get much more complex and difficult along the way, as movement might be limited to a certain direction, or the conditional tokens will force yes or no decisions along the programmed path. The Toys Bulletin staff found “Code Master” to be a most rewarding experience and loads of fun. We did not complete all 60 levels yet, but we will not quit until we do. We even decided to time how long it was taking us to complete various levels, so we could crown a “Code Master” speed champion. We believe that today’s tech savvy kids will love this game, and likely complete the levels faster than most adults.
The retail price of “Code Master” from Thinkfun is $24.99 and it can currently be purchased at Target Stores or directly from the Target website.