Toca Blocks is a set of digital building blocks for your child to use. But unlike real wooden blocks, these digital ones have magical abilities. By combining the core building blocks (placing one so it covers another), budding engineers will discover new building blocks with unique properties and tactile surfaces. This set of building blocks comes with three animal characters to control -- one that can walk, jump, and punch-through two-block structures; one that can sort-of fly by hovering; and one that can cling onto things to scale up the sides and scoot underneath ledges.
How to Play
Toca Blocks offers an open sandbox, filled with 2D blocks (both discovered and undiscovered), in which to build. There are no goals, no instructions, and no rules (other than inherent rules about how the characters respond to the different blocks.) Kids play with Toca Blocks in the same way they would use a set of toy blocks -- as tools to create imaginary worlds and tell stories.
The app seamlessly switches from build mode to explore mode. In build mode, you can place blocks and other accessories you discover. In explore mode, you control the characters to see how they will interact with the block designs you have created.
Kids start off with four block types: confetti, yellow, red, and green. Builders can place the blocks into the scene by dragging them one at a time. An easier way to fill a space it to use the paintbrush tool, which will drop blocks wherever you sweep your finger. If you don't like what you've built, you can double click on it or tap on the delete tool, which appears as a little black chomping character that eats blocks.
Explorers will quickly discover that if they place one type of block on top of another type of block so that it is completely covered, a brand new block or building accessory will appear. For example, combining the confetti block with the yellow block will produce a black block. When a character encounters a series of black blocks, it will disappear inside and zip through the series to pop out on the other side. Other building blocks to discover include stones, water, sticky blocks, bouncy ones, and more. Sometimes combining blocks creates other items to place inside of your worlds, including trees, vines, flowers, toilets, airplane engines, and even furniture. The teleporting door accessory allows characters to visit other worlds not created by them!
Players tap the "+" button to generate a random new world in which to start. You may enter a vast open space filled with green blocks that look like grass and a big open sky. Or it might be a world in which some things are already built. The three characters will be waiting for you, and you can use the button at the top right of the screen to help you locate them.
While in building mode, you can use your finger to scroll beyond the current screen or you can place your finger on an on-screen rollerball to navigate the vast world. You can go way up into outer space or deep down below the ground.
Toca Blocks appears to be a simple, inviting space in which to build, using blocks. It is that, but there is a lot more underneath this app's hood.
By making the building with blocks so intuitive, this app lets young children jump right in. They will problem-solve about how to build steps and which character will fit inside of a specific space. At times, players will discover that they have led a character into a dead-end. To fix this, they will have to experiment with either building new platforms or blowing up blocks that already exist.
But Toca Blocks does more than just entice children to become builders. It encourages kids to explore, by having blocks that blink at you and characters that respond in different ways to the blocks. It also hints at more by periodically generating worlds that have more than just the starting blocks. Kids will quickly realize that there is more to discover, and then the fun begins. As they start to combine blocks and see their inventory of building items increase, their imaginary worlds can expand. Parents, encourage your builders to explore 2-block, 3-block, and even 4-block combinations.
Also fun is experimenting with how each character will respond to a specific kind of block. We wish that the app would let us pick up each character, to carry them to a location of our choosing, but this is a minor complaint. You can always find them and walk them over to the area you want them to explore.
Toca Blocks lets kids take traditional block building to new heights by infusing these blocks with magical properties and the appearance of tactile surfaces. It’s a unique experience all budding engineers and explorer-types will greatly enjoy.
Toca Blocks is a great app for any child who loves to build worlds and create imaginary stories. It is a well-designed digital toolset that encourages kids to think outside the box. Toca Blocks works well without an internet connection, making it an excellent app to use while traveling or waiting.
This Toca Blocks app review was written by Jinny Gudmundsen.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.