Developer: The LEGO Group
Price: FREE
Version: 1.01
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

For those unfamiliar with LEGO MINDSTORMS, they’re basically a unique brand of LEGO designed to help teach programming and robotics. Pretty funky, right? Well LEGO MINDSTORMS Fix the Factory is a sort of video game rendition of the same idea, only without the need to build anything.

fixthefactory04The power is out at the NOGO factory and EV3RSTORM (I know, ugh) is the bot for the job. Players must guide him through 24 levels filled with switches, batteries, conveyor belts, and so on, but the catch is that he’ll only do what he’s programmed to do. So rather than using a virtual stick and action buttons, players will have to plan out their moves ahead of time and make sure they’re moving, turning, and whatnot when they need to. This is made even more complicated with the inclusion of the conveyor belts, which move of their own accord once per action/turn.

Fix the Factory may not be the first robot-programming game I’ve played, but it’s probably the prettiest. It’s hard to tell from the screen shots but everything is actually in 3D, and EV3RSTORM’s (seriously, ugh) animations are incredibly smooth. The puzzles are also well designed, although they’ll probably be a bit easy for older gamers. But each new element is introduced well, and there’s just enough time to get used to a new obstacle before another one is thrown into the mix.

fixthefactory12And yet, there’s so much that Fix the Factory gets wrong. Well, it doesn’t so much get anything wrong as it just doesn’t get things right. For example, each level has four stars that players can earn: Attempts, Errors, Moves, and Time. With the exception of Attempts and Errors, there’s no way to know what the goal is until the level is complete. So while I may have to complete a stage without using more than 4 moves and in less than 40 seconds, none of that is indicated in-game. Even more troublesome is the fact that once the level is completed there’s still no indication of what the target move count is. The interface itself is also problematic as the program tiles can be placed anywhere in the window and slide around automatically when one is dragged into place; which means it’s incredibly easy to accidentally place a command in the wrong spot. And this, of course, makes trying to finish quickly a lot tougher than it should be.

LEGO MINDSTORMS Fix the Factory looks great and can be entertaining, but there are a surprising number of basic gameplay functions that have been left out. It’s playable, certainly, but it could stand to be a lot more user-friendly.

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