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Review CornerSoftware
The Robot Club
Rating: four and a half stars
The Bottom Line
The Robot Club helps kids develop programming and problem-solving skills in a series of rather challenging missions. Kids who are up to these types of challenges will find the game totally engrossing.
Award of Excellence
Ages: 10-up   Subject: Math/Logic  Brand: SouthPeak Interactive
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
 
 
Robot Club Product Overview
You've stumbled upon The Robot Club, a group of students who have a secret lab in the basement of a High School. They design and build helpful robots that solve problems around town. In order to join the Club, you need to prove yourself by learning to build " 'bots" using the Club's own programming language.

Start a new game, or load a saved one. There is an option to duel that allows robots to combat against each other. It is best to do the missions in order - each chapter has a number of parts to it, and it is good to start with chapter 1 to get used to the programming language used. Each mission starts with a video clip of the kids in the Club explaining the upcoming mission. There are 6 levels and 31 missions in all, and they become progressively more challenging as you go along.

Each mission requires doing the following in the Workshop:

  • Building your Robot: Creating your "virtual hardware" involves attaching the parts given to the robot chassis. In the earlier missions, the parts in the parts bins are all required for the mission, but later on, there are more parts to choose from, and some of them are not necessary. If you feel like having fun, personalize your robot.
  • Programming: This involves creating instructions and tasks (groups of instructions). Sometimes it will help to create global tasks that run throughout the program. Instructions may require a condition and an action.
  • Run Program: Test your robot on the playing field. Expect to do this often as you fine-tune your robot programming through a series of trial and error.
Other variables to consider are the energy and health gauges.

Once you get the hang of robot-building and programming, you may be up to entering a duel and combat another robot. Fight a computer robot, build 2 robots to fight each other, or duel with a friend's 'bot. An interesting option is the ability to trade hints and even robots over the Internet.

At the beginning, there is a tutorial button that will give some hints, and later, you will always find a "Tips" button at the top of the screen. These give some general hints for completing the missions. If you're really stuck, there's always the Hintline, but you'll have to pay $.95 US, or $1.50 in Canada, for these automated tips.

The Robot Club is wonderful for kids who like a challenge. My computer programmer husband thinks the game provides an excellent mental workout for kids, especially ones who aspire to be computer programmers or engineers. Although my 8 year old son needs lots of help from his dad, this game holds tremendous appeal. If you're looking for a light-hearted breezy game, skip this one. On the other hand, if you really want to get your kids to think, this program is an excellent choice. Many adults will enjoy it as well.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, a Pentium 75 MHz, 16 Mb RAM, and 2X CD ROM (4X recommended).

This program contains some nice graphics and live-action video clips of real kids.

Skills Covered
programming, logic, strategy, creative problem-solving skills, critical thinking,

Educational Value
You can't just play this program without really getting involved -- working through the levels involves some excellent problem-solving. Kids need to really exercise their brain in order to progress through the game.

Entertainment Value
This is going to appeal to a specific crowd -- kids who like challenges and strategy games. For those kids, this program will be extremely addictive. It's got exactly the right attitude for tweeners and early teenagers.

Design
The Robot Club contains a large range of levels of difficulty, and is generally well-designed. The hints provided in the "Tips" section are helpful but don't provide an easy way out either.

Replayability
There's a whole lot of content in this program, and it is really quite addictive and engrossing.

Dollar Value
The game retails for $30 US.

Released: 1998