Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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As pointed out in our original review for The Sandbox, the title of Pixowl's world-building game is meant to be taken literally. Players dip their hands in a digital world where gritty molecules can make mountains, oceans, forests, and even power simple electrical circuits.
The Sandbox EDU retains the first game's world-building charm, but repackages it as an educational tool. Players can access trivia and learn lessons about how the game's elements react with each other. Some of the lessons are genuinely enlightening, while others can be difficult to tinker with. Either way, it would be in Pixowl's best interest to smooth out the game's English dialogue. There are a ton of spelling errors and grammar tragedies on-hand, which is definitely not good for an educational game.
The goal of The Sandbox EDU is to let kids learn by experimenting with the game's pixels. There is, for example, a virtual chemistry lab wherein players complete a circuit and light a Bunsen burner, then must supply enough oil to keep it burning long enough to boil away water. Another lesson plan demonstrates the impact humans have on the Earth, for better or for ill. There are also chances to make music, learn how to draw pixel art, and mess around with electrical circuits.
The pixel-perfect precision required to solve some problems in The Sandbox EDU can get frustrating. Granted, most stages let players zoom in to place pixels, but when this option is disallowed for whatever reason it can make issues hard to solve. Luckily it doesn't pop up often.
As noted earlier, the more troubling problem with The Sandbox EDU is its spelling and grammar. It's not such a big deal in the original Sandbox, but this is supposed to be an app developed specifically for teachers and parents. Someone should have nitpicked the script before letting it go up on the marketplace.
The Sandbox EDU is definitely flawed, but messing around with its digital dirt in free play mode is still pretty fun. The variety of lessons on-hand is impressive, too. It's definitely a solid learning tool, provided the students playing with it are already English-language wizards.