‘Laser Maze Jr.’ Mixes Logic, Science, and Fun

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‘Laser Maze Jr.’ is recommended for single players, but kids of different ages can enjoy the opportunity to work together towards a similar goal. Image: Lisa Kay Tate.

It isn’t easy trying to get two kids who are separated by five or more years to find the same activities interesting, much less enjoy it together as a team.

This has been the case with many tabletop games recently in our house. With one young teenager and one who just turned six, each with their own separate learning curves, levels of competitiveness, and, most importantly, threshold for boredom, the search for a new game that appeals to both of them is quite the undertaking.

ThinkFun, Inc. has announced some of their new games for 2015, including Laser Maze Jr., a version of the award-winning Laser Maze with age-appropriate challenges for players as young as six.

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ThinkFun’s ‘Laser Maze Jr.’ offers similar challenges as its ‘Laser Maze’ game for players as young as age six. Image: Lisa Kay Tate.

Laser Maze was one of two of ThinkFun’s products nominated for the Toy Industry Association’s 15th Annual Toy of the Year Awards for 2015. The other nominee, the marble run and logic game Gravity Maze, won for Specialty Toy of the Year.

Laser Maze Jr. has also received its own share of awards, including a Parents’ Choice Gold Award from Children’s Media and Toy Reviews.

The goal of both Laser Maze and Laser Maze Jr. is to use both science and logic to guide a laser beam from its starting point to an end point (a rocket in the Junior edition), by the placement of mirrors, space blockers, and beam splitters. The junior level includes 40 challenge scenarios ranging from easy to difficult.

Although this in intended as a single player challenge, I found more effective as a way to get my children to work together on a singular goal.

It was a little difficult for my six-year-old to take on at first, since her lacking of impulse control made her just want to start lining up little rocks and mirrors in any which way she saw fit. This became frustrating for her.

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Getting acquainted with how the pieces work is part of the fun for younger players. Image: Lisa Kay Tate

When my 13-year-old worked alone, she immediately wanted to start at the most difficult challenge. This also became frustrating, but teens being teens, she refused assistance.

It was when they sat down together, to work on a challenge, that the entire dynamic of the game changed. The six-year-old, who had the full attention of the big sister she admired, became very intent on finding a solution. The teen, wanting to take on a role of responsibility and knowledge, became a worthy teacher. Together, the pair worked their way through some of the tougher challenges, and had someone with whom to share their victory.

As a result, our younger found it easier to sit down to this game on her own, and couldn’t wait to show off her successes (on some of the easier levels) to her sister.

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There’s something really satisfying about using logic and science to get that little red rocket to light up, no matter what your age. Image: Lisa Kay Tate.

I’ve always adhered to the theory that teaching a concept to another person helps you learn it better, and this was the case with our teen. After helping her little sister with a challenge, she was better able to figure out the harder challenges on her own.

This game didn’t just appeal to younger players, as having it out on a table, was a great way to fill in those lapses in conversations when family and friends visit. On a recent visit from a relative, all it took was for one person to pick up a challenge card, and everyone was working together, laughing and having fun debates about what piece goes where.

Both Laser Maze and Laser Maze Jr. retail for $29.99, and share a similar gameboard. There are 60 challenges for Laser Maze, with smaller-sized challenge cards and more game pieces.

I do recommend this game, but I would occasionally ignore the “single player,” designation from time to time. Through working together on this “single player” game, my girls were able to experience the joy of problem solving, the satisfaction of learning something new, the accomplishment of reaching a goal, and, most importantly for me, acting as a team.

You can’t ask more than that from any game.

GeekMom received a copy of this game for review purposes.

Lisa Kay Tate is a veteran feature writer with 20 years experience in newspaper, magazine and freelance writing. In addition to serving as Associate Editor for her local arts and entertainment guide, El Paso Scene, she has been a regular contributor to the site ihogeek.com and maintains her own blogsite at lisathegeekmom.wordpress.com. She and her husband, writer/photographer Rick, live on the edge of "New Texico" where they keep busy raising their two geeklings and sharing space with their dog, Sirius Black, and cat, Loki.