Bottom Line: Solve puzzles which range from simple to nearly impossible and learn color theory all by rolling marbles through paint pots contained in a maze.
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Blendamaze is a new educational game from developer Border Leap, combining color theory with a maze puzzle which makes for surprisingly addictive play. Each of the puzzles, over 100 in all, follows the same basic concept. One or several marbles are rolled into paint by tilting the iPad or iPhone in order to blend the colors needed to create a match to the target dot color.
The app starts with a tutorial creatively blended right into the first few levels of simple mazes. Though the concept stays easy throughout, the puzzles soon get hard. Halfway through the Primaries set (30 different puzzles), I started having to work a little harder to get all colors needed for a perfect match. An exact match earns a gold star. Colors that are almost right earn a silver star, and a color that is off a shade, but still has the right colors blended earns a bronze.
The second level, the Secondaries, is where I really got stuck. My kids, my husband and I all tried to get past Level two of the Secondary puzzles (puzzle #32 overall) with no success. The three target colors are varying shades of green, yet there are four reds in the corners of the maze which seemed impossible not to hit. Sometimes landing an already-colored marble in the red turned it black, and the level had to be restarted. Every level has to be completed in order—no skipping a hard level for later.
Though you can start a level completely over, you can't just erase the last move. This proved more frustrating for my kids than it was for me. Sometimes, there are trap colors—black, or a color that cannot be used to make the target colors. There are also traps within the puzzles where the marble gets stuck in an area with no out. If two out of three color matches have been made and the marble ends up in a corner with no way out, the whole level has to be restarted. My eight year old son summed it up with, "This app is fun and very challenging. You have to have perseverance." I persevered, and finally mastered the first three levels. (Hint: make friends with the walls!)
My ten year old son soon picked up on the color theory and puzzle solving, definitely showing more aptitude than his colorblind father and color dense mother! His favorite way to play the game was to tell me where to move the marble next. He was the brains, and I was, for the first time in my life, the brawn.
In addition to stars, playing well also earns the user Achievements, including the "Double Decker" for completing all double-target Primaries levels with gold stars, "Delicate Maneuver" for completing Tertiaries level 3 with gold stars, and the elusive "Natural Artist" for completing Tertiaries levels 1-15 with gold stars. Running through the Full Spectrum with gold stars earns one the title Blendamazing, but this may be like bowling a perfect 300 game.
There is also a free draw section of Blendamaze, which is accessible by the tapping the palette on the main menu. Younger children can get in on the fun without the frustration of the puzzle. My five year old had fun rolling the marble around and learning more about how colors blend together, even though she didn't quite understand the concept of most of the levels.
I would love a setting for younger children, allowing them to undo just one move, instead of restarting an entire level. This would make the app fully accessible for all ages to learn about color blending, with just a little less frustration. Parents of young children should also know that there are links to Facebook and Twitter on the main menu page.
The app is not native for iPad, but the colors were still clear when magnified x2. I hope this will eventually change in an update. New levels are already promised for future updates. It would also really help me to know the names of the colors being created. My poor children now think olive is called "puce," and puce is called "that really pretty purple color." This feature would be another handy addition to the app.
Blendamaze, currently just $.99, is a great approach to learning about color theory. It may be too hard for the younger children to complete the creative and challenging puzzles, but the free play still lets them learn. Older children and adults will finally figure out exactly how to make citrine and olive—and puce!—without needing a trip to Sherwin Williams.
Heather Hetler may soon be seen wearing clothes that match in her job as a speech-language pathologist, now that she understands more about color theory. There's probably still no hope for her colorblind husband. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.