This game review is part of our ‘Game of Code Week’ series.
by Robyn Brown
In Lightbot, players move the lightbot robot through a variety of puzzles, light up blue tiles and solve levels. They do this by creating their own mini-programs. If your kids have played Code.org games, this will look familiar. Drag-and-drop blocks come ready with actions like move forward, turn right and light up that users move to the coding screen on the right. A green play button then runs the program, while a pulsing techno sound keeps the beat in the background.
The challenges get harder as you progress through multiple levels – each one teaching a new coding concept, including procedures (similar to functions), overloading, loops and conditionals. The app features an impressive 50 levels and 20 challenge stars to collect.
Lightbot is an effective education tool that helps kids build critical thinking skills and learn to think like a coder. Rather than control the robot with arrow keys, users must thoughtfully plan the commands they want lightbot to take, and then debug their commands if he makes a misstep. As a game, it’s visually appealing and challenging enough to keep kids engaged. Once you’ve played through the game, you’ll have an easier time jumping to similar programs like MIT’s Scratch.
I’d recommend Lightbot for ages 8 and up. Some reading comprehension is required to understand the instructions in each level. Higher up levels get more challenging, and I can definitely see adults enjoying the game as much as kids. I did!
An easier version — Lightbot Jr — is also available for younger ages. Both versions can be downloaded for iPhone, iPad, Android and Kindle devices, as well as for Windows and Mac computers for Lightbot — all at varying prices.
Want to try it before you buy it? A few short puzzles are up on the Lightbot website (https://lightbot.com/hoc2014.html).