What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Trainyard is a color-based puzzle game that is easy to learn but hard to master. The game is simple enough that a young child could play the easier levels, but the more advanced levels will challenge puzzle-loving adults. There is some connection to social media, particularly with submitting solutions, but that is optional (and requires a password for Facebook or Twitter access).
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- analyzing evidence
- applying information
- solving puzzles
- combining knowledge
- developing novel solutions
Engagement, Approach, Support
Trainyard is an innovative puzzle game with clean, attractive graphics and a well-designed interface. The game is simple enough that a young child could play the easier levels, but the more advanced levels will challenge puzzle-loving adults.
Kids can learn real railway concepts like switching track, train car merging, crossovers, and collisions. Geometrical concepts like symmetry and asymmetry, timing and color mixing make for a concept-packed experience.
Top-notch tutorials walk kids through each skill. The app does require a high level of fine motor skills, which may exclude some younger kids. The game can be adapted for color-blind players. Players can opt in to Apple's Game Center.
What's it about?
Kids create and test track configurations on a grid background until they find one that works. Trains run from outlet stations to goal stations at variable and easily controlled speeds. If the trains crash, players have to go "Back to the drawing board!" Double tap to switch connections, and use erase mode to get rid of unwanted track. Sometimes kids have to send their trains on an indirect path to merge or crossover at just the right time.
Is it any good?
TRAINYARD has a simple goal: get the color-coded trains from their outlets to their correct stations. Players draw tracks on the screen with a finger, and then send the trains on their way. However, as the game progresses players encounter new obstacles and techniques: combining trains to mix the colors, creating branching tracks that send trains into different directions, and stations that re-paint the trains into different colors. With short tutorials spaced out throughout the levels, Trainyard is very easy to learn and has a good learning curve. But with about 150 levels, the harder stages can stump even puzzle-loving adults.
The graphics are clean and attractive, and the interface is well-designed without a lot of distractions. There's even an option for color-blind players to label all the elements with letters. The game keeps track of the progress of two players, which is a nice touch, although it would be nice to be able to change the names on the profiles. All in all, Trainyard is a fantastic puzzle game that uses some basic ideas in a very innovative way that both children and adults can enjoy.
Families can talk about...
If your kids love trains, seek out books or documentary films about trains for them. If possible, take them to see a real train up close.
Make Trainyard a team effort. Let your kids take the lead and then help them come up with solutions when they get stuck.