Back in August 2013, we reviewed a game called “Laser Maze” (see our review). Later that year it was named as one of our “best of 2013,” and the Toys Bulletin staff continues to play that game today. So, it is easy to see why we were especially excited to see that “Laser Maze Jr.” was now available for kids as young as 6 years old.
For those readers unfamiliar with the basic concept of the game, “Laser Maze Jr.,” like the original game, is a one person game where the player must carefully place small Satellite Mirrors and sometimes a Beam Splitter in an arena, such that a single Laser beam is diverted, allowing the beam to hit and light up the intended target. To add even more interest, there is a Science Fiction theme attached to this version of the game. When the Laser is activated by the red switch on the arena, it is supposed to provide instant ignition to the rockets, but in some cases the Laser is blocked by Space Rocks, or it takes those specially designed mirrors and the Beam Splitter to help the Laser beam find the rocket target(s).
“ThinkFun” has provided 40 different challenges, including those that are easy, medium, hard or super hard. Here are the specifics…the game contents include a game arena that measures approximately 6½” square, with 25 spaces arranged in a 5 x 5 grid. There are 2 of the Rocket Targets, 5 Satellite Mirrors, 1 Beam Splitter and 3 Space Rock Blockers. The base of each of these game tokens fits perfectly on any one of the spaces on the grid. The Laser mechanism is attached to the arena and does require two AAA batteries. There is a handy on/off switch to prevent unnecessary battery drainage. To begin play, a challenge card is chosen and slid into the arena. The card indicates where the rocket target(s) and/or other game tokens need to be placed before starting. Additionally, the card shows which game tokens must be used (added to grid) to solve the challenge.
After placing the rocket target(s) and any required game tokens in position (these cannot be moved during the game), the player turns on the laser beam and begins adding Satellite Mirrors and/or the Beam Splitter (game tokens) to the grid, attempting to change the direction of the beam so that it hits the rocket target(s). The perimeter of the arena includes a short red wall, which makes it easier to see the direction of the Laser beam as a player tries to see the effect of the Satellite Mirrors and/or the Beam Splitter on the Laser beam. The Satellite Mirrors turn the path of the Laser beam 90 degrees, while the Beam Splitter actually does split the beam, allowing the Laser beam to pass straight ahead and also sending the same beam off at a 90 degree angle. The orientation of both the mirrors and splitter are critical to solving the challenges, so the player will find himself not only moving the pieces from space to space, but also turning them constantly.
The initial challenges may take only a few minutes, but the super hard challenges can take a bit longer. There is a section in the rules providing all 40 of the solutions, just in case. We tried all of the challenges during our play testing, and we believe “Laser Maze Jr.” will provide a unique experience for youngsters as well as adults. This game may also be a perfect fit for our senior citizens who are looking for ways to keep their minds sharp.
We found “Laser Maze Jr.” to be all we had expected and more. It is certainly a perfect game for youngsters just beginning to show interest in logic games, and once you successfully complete a few challenges, you simply cannot stop playing. Overall, we found “Laser Maze Jr.” to be an exceptional game experience.
“Laser Maze Jr.” retails for $29.99 at the ThinkFun website.