Many people want to become Mark Zuckerberg, and that is why many parents are sending their kids to expensive coding courses or buying plenty of programming books, hoping their kids can become a coding master one day. The Tangiplay coding toy can make the job easier (and cheaper) for parents by letting kids learn the fundamentals of coding and have fun at the same time.
How the TangiPlay Coding Toy Works
Tangiplay belongs to a new generation of coding toys that encourage kids to learn as they play. It is a collection of 12 colored blocks that interact with an app that you install on your tablet.
There are four main colored blocks:
- Blue – Sequencing block, for controlling the robot actions and movement
- Green – Loop block, for automating repetitive actions
- Yellow – Function block, for repeating the same steps on demand
- Purple – Conditional block, for planning an alternative route when obstacles appear
There is also one Red block, which is used for game activation. It is not in used in any part of the game.
The objective of the game/app is to use the blocks to program a robot to move and build new railways. During the process, the child needs to recharge the robot, overcome obstacles, and send passengers to destinations.
Each block stands for a command that you pass to the robot. Simply press the block on the screen to issue the command.
To get started, you have to install the app on your tablet. It is available for both iOS and Android. One thing to note: don’t install the Tangiplay app from the Play Store. It has not been updated in quite a while. Download and install the apk file from the Tangiplay site instead.
Start the app and press the Red block on the screen to start the game. You will need to pair it with the coding block with the serial code at the bottom of the box for it to work.
There are nine levels in total, each containing a various number of puzzles. Each level will focus on one coding concept. Level one will show the basics of getting the robot to move and build tracks, get rid of obstacles and charge when its power is low. The second level introduces more objectives for the robot to fulfill (such as picking up the passenger and dropping him at the bus stop).
The third level will introduce the concept of Looping, where kids can make use of the Loop blocks to create loops and shorten the steps. It will even show you more complicated steps within loops so you can automate even more steps.
The fourth level will introduce the concept of Functions, where kids can learn to create functions and call it on demand.
The 8th level adds the “If/Else/End If” conditioning rules, which give the robot instructions on how to behave when it detects an obstacle.
During the gameplay, it will guide you along on which block to use and how to use it.
Every action you take is added to the left side of the screen. Everytime you made a mistake, you can go back to the action flow and correct the action.
I let my 7-year-old daughter play the game, and she is able to clear the follow the instructions to complete the game with ease. She is able to understand how looping and If/Else works, but she got stuck at the Functions. It took some explanation (from me) and quite a few levels for her to understand how Functions work.
Does it work?
One thing for sure, this game isn’t going to turn your child into a coding master. As a way to introduce the concept of coding to kids, this can be a fun way to do so. I do find that this game is most effective when there is someone at the side guiding and explaining the concept to the kids.
But wait, what are the cons?
While playing the game, there are quite a lot of glitches with the software. First, the screen is not sensitive to the block (or vice versa). When you press the block on the screen, there are times when the app doesn’t detect anything. In the worst case, it will get mistaken as another block. For example, when pressing the Arrow block on the screen, it can get mistaken as the Loop block at times.
In addition, on subsequent play, the graphics can get distorted, and the hinting overlay didn’t get cleared, leaving a huge patch of marks blocking most of the view.
Also, there is no explanation of how to achieve three stars for each puzzle. You may be able to meet the game objective (by moving the train from the start to the end), but sometimes you can’t get three stars and don’t know why. If it requires a specific action (or using specific blocks) to achieve three stars for each level, I would appreciate it leaving a hint so kids can learn where they can improve.
Lastly, the app is very battery intensive. On my fully charged tablet, it only took 45 minutes of playing to drain the battery completely.
Is this worth it?
The overall concept of this coding toy is good, and its ability to explain difficult concepts and make it into an interesting game is what makes this coding toy shine. However, the implementation can be disappointing (and frustrating) at times. You just have to be prepared for occasional glitches and stand by with a charger to charge your tablet as you play.