AR Block Tower is a shape-sorting AR game for children between 4 to 7. A game that teaches kids how to build a tower by stacking up different color shapes.
According to the developer, this type of shape-sorting games improve the kid’s understanding of sequence and space organization, help them make connections between familiar objects and their shapes and improve their comparing skills.
A Puzzle game designed for Kids
When I start playing it I immediately felt that this is a great game for kids. I’ve been playing many similar puzzle AR games like PuzzlAR World Tour, AR Tower, Blocks Tower AR, Wobbly Stack AR, Let’s Build AR, Stack AR, Let’s Stack AR!, and AMON. All of those games are block stacking, pulling or connecting type of puzzlers. I think that AR Block Tower is more similar to PuzzlAR in a way, as the player needs to fill up a semi-transparent object by placing shapes into their corresponding place.
However, unlike PuzzlAR, AR Block Tower has much less complex shape, and it mostly deals with primitive shapes that kids can quickly identify. You also don’t have a time pressure on your back and you don’t need to finish a level in X amount of seconds in order to lock the next level. The player has all the time in the world to finish it.
AR Block Tower start with a few simple blocks and gets more complicated as you level up, where the player needs to deal with many more pieces and build a more complex tower. Still, the shapes are easily recognizable, like a triangle, bridge, square, and cylinder. Furthermore, those shapes repeat themselves throughout the game.
AR Block Tower comes with 16 levels with increased difficulty. I think that consider ing the target audience, which is mainly kids, it’s fair enough. I think it would be great if there were many more levels and the game used procedurally generated levels, so kids can play new levels every time they launch the app.
Before we move on, let’s check out some actual gameplay!
The initialization process was terrible. The game asks you to scan the surface and then locks the game to spawn the objects. First of all, sometimes the game shows a rectangle surface where the AR engine detects a surface, sometimes it doesn’t. The game doesn’t tell you that you need to tap inside the surface to place the target icon and then press the lock button. It took me a few minutes to figure this out. Sometimes the target icon appears like a meter above the floor, I have no idea why.
Once I figured that I can just tap on the surface even without waiting for a surface detection to appear, things start to work more smoothly, but this initialization process has to be clear and optimized.
Players are given the option to easily enlarge the game by dragging a zoom slider on the right side of the screen. There is no option to rotate the game.
In terms of visuals, I have to admit that although the game feature just simple shapes, it looked nice because of the well-defined shadows. It felt good moving around the game and the shaped felt like realistic plastic toy objects that I can play with.
I also liked the simple aim-and-tap to dragging interaction. It’s very simple and fun. Once you aim and tap on the shape, you can drag it around. Once the shape is in the right place, the semi-transparent placement will turn green, and all you have to do is to release the tap and the shape will lock itself in place.
As an adult and a tall person, I found the game quite annoying to play, as the snatch detection range is very small, so you have to get very close to the object in order to snap it. It won’t be a problem for a small child, but I needed to crouch a lot to play this game. It can become easier if you enlarge the game, so the puzzle pieces appear bigger, but this also requires a larger space. Overall, I don’t see it as a big issue, considering the target audience that this game is aimed for, which is kids between 4 to 7.
I also really liked the presentation of the game. I liked the subtle colors and slightly rounded shapes. It makes complex towers look really nice when you combine many of those colorful shapes to form the tower. Dragging shapes also followed by nice star particle animation and magical sound that improved the gameplay experience for me as well.
I’ve noticed that when you launch the game, it starts straights away with the level selection screen. I don’t know if that was on purpose, but it actually is a good thing, because the child doesn’t need to mass around with unnecessary and complex UI interaction and can quickly start playing the game.
AR Block Tower is a great puzzle game for kids. It’s probably more suitable for 4-7 age group more than all the other block-stacking games that I’ve reviewed so far. The reason for that is because it’s much less complicated and build on a popular identifying shapes game for kids that are known to help children learn basic properties of simple geometric figures and help them practice looking for differences and similarities between shapes in order to be able to complete different puzzles.
A game like this should be kept simple, without any distractions. I have to admit that even as an adult, aside from needing to crouch all the time, I enjoy playing it. I think that it would be better to increase the block snapping distance, although I understand that the design behind it was probably to maintain the same action physically picking up an object with your hand.
It’s also important to make sure that the child plays in a large space without any obstacles and of course, it’s very important, especially for very young kids, that a parent will be there to keep an eye on the child when he plays this AR game. I think the developer should add this warning to parents who have no experience with AR games are aware of it.
Overall, a well-made and fun augmented reality puzzle game for kids with educational value—Definitely Recommended!
Download AR Block Tower free from the App Store for iOS here.