A lot has changed since then, and my kids will grow up with games that the 1980s me couldn’t have even dreamed of. Which leads me on neatly to the Tori Explorer pack that arrived at my house for review purposes the other day.
The Tori Explorer kit consists of a board, a catapult, wand and spacecraft and some actual physical craft for you to get your teeth into as well. All you need to do is pair the board with your tablet or smartphone and download the current games from either the Apple or Google Play app store in order to get going.
Even for a gaming dunce like me, this seemed straightforward. It was time to dive in.
Tori Explorer Pack Games
There are four games for the Tori Explorer, although there are more planned. They are pitched at kids aged six and upwards and combine learning, problem solving and other activities that help develop their brains, with that most crucial of all factors – fun.
Crystal Chase – this is a space adventure in which you need to dodge obstacles, pick up tokens and do away with the evil space pirates. You operate your ship by holding the included spacecraft above the board and reacting to the action on the screen of your tablet.
For someone who, as I mentioned at the start, grew up with the sorts of games that shredded joysticks and, undoubtedly, contributed to the now critical levels of dumped plastic in the sea, this seems so simple and intuitive that it is genius. Want to go up? Lift the spacecraft up. Want to go right? Turn the spacecraft right. Want to turn left? You get the idea.
Through some very smart 3D technology, the Tori board transfers you every move onto the game you are watching with no lag and with a smoothness that had me thinking that perhaps ‘spacefighter pilot’ is maybe my true calling.
The early stages of this game particularly were great for easing my two-year-old into the world of gaming. He didn’t have to be able to follow too many instructions and he could easily equate what he was doing with his hands to what was happening on screen.
It’s certainly not the sort of thing I would buy for him alone just yet – he’s far too young to really appreciate it – but it was good that he could get involved and feel like he was really playing.
Jungle Rescue – this is the game that my six-year-old daughter fell in love with immediately. You are in charge of a catapult and have to fire rocks at ever more complicated puzzles in order to drop a magic key on top of a cage in which is imprisoned a monkey. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I would write.
The games take skill, accuracy and lateral thinking to work out which bits of the on-screen structure need taking out in order for the key to slide smoothly towards its target and not abruptly smash into pieces on the floor.
Elsa couldn’t get enough of it and I watched her experience every emotion along the way to completing each level. Amusement, frustration, confusion, determination, excitement and elation all came into play at different times and I actually had to prise the catapult out of her hands at bath time.
Shades of Light – This magical adventure allows you to live out all your best Harry Potter dreams and wave around a wand. A mysterious wizard sets you tasks to complete, lifting items with your wand and placing them down so that their shadows create certain shapes. It’s a thoroughly relaxing experience and immensely satisfying too.
Supreme Builder – This is your opportunity to go freestyle and build your own universe. You act as some kind of supreme being, taking blocks from the ground and placing them into a structure of your choosing. The kids loved the freedom of this game and it really made them delve into their creative sides as they played.
With all the games, the further you get in them, the more levels and games you unlock. The Tori Explorer Pack is incredibly rewarding to those who put in the time to play the games.
The more you play, the more you can customise the games too. For example, there are some spacecraft templates for Crystal Chase that you can decorate, colour-in, dowse in glitter or whatever you want to do, which can then be replicated within the actual game.
It’s clever stuff and certainly nothing like gaming was back in the day. Although I would love to see a version of Daley Thompson’s Decathlon where you could either trim or make bushier his moustache.
The Tori Explorer pack is available now from Amazon, Game, Argos or Tori.com and costs £149.99.
It certainly entertained my two and, if yours are around six or above, it is a great way of helping them develop all kinds of great aspects like problem solving and creativity whilst they have a cracking time playing.