“Bweep bwop whirrrr” is the official robot call for robot creators to get making with Tiny Bop’s fab new app for preschoolers and children, Robot Factory.
The Robot Factory app lets kids build and customise their own robots and then see how they fare in a game environment. The app is refreshingly pared back when it comes to instructions, and intuitive when it comes to game play. Start by creating and naming your avatar, and then get straight to building your robot. There are 100 different parts to choose from, and thousands of possible robots to make.
When the robot feels complete, a tap on a pipe to the outside world gets you to the game, and away you go, picking up points as well as ideas for improvements on your current design. As the rectangular body of my robot rolled thumpily along the landscape I thought, “next time I should give him wheels.”
Happily, it’s possible to pause the game, return to the factory and do some major or minor revamping of your robot. Add some Sasquatch feet, handy scissor arms or a bigger brain and test it out in the environment. When you’ve created the perfect robot, you can save it to the showroom and start on a new creation.
Each robot prototype changes the sorts of things players can do in the game and the way the robot moves through the environment. The world is full of obstacles, and each robot has its strengths and weaknesses. Some will survive, and some will end up a pile of scrap.
Aside from actually playing the game, Robot Factory is beautifully designed. With nine palettes to choose from, the colours are easy on the eyes, and the game has a two dimensional, mid-century modern vibe, with robots that look like 1960s era visions of the future. The sound effects too are just right: the tweet of a bird here, the beeping of a robot there. It’s not a surprise that the app won the prize for iPad app of the year.
I speak from experience when I say the Robot Factory is the sort of app you download for your kids and end up playing yourself until the wee hours of the morning. Download from the App store at your own risk. It’s pretty fantastic.