Toy Wizards would like to thank Ravensburger for providing a copy of Gravitrax for us to review. You can snag your own copy of the Starter Kit for $59.99 from Amazon.
STEM games are all the rage with legitimate children these days, which is something we discussed in our last STEM game review (Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty Puzzle) from ThinkFun. It’s more or less hands-on scientific methods that help kids learn cause and effect in real time; if this, then this. Gravitrax is a straight-forward game that asks the player to make marble run tracks. The instructions has pre-made puzzles for you to follow, or you can off the beaten path and try to create your own.
Upon opening the box, it sort of looks like an intimidating jumble of plastic and pieces. But you sort through it rather quickly and realize what purpose each plastic piece serves for the overall scheme of the game. Also, Ravensburger was polite enough to send me three expansion packs as well that included a ball trampoline, a weighted tipping ball, and a tube that would make the marbles work in succession, much like those big gravity ball set ups in the mall in the 90s.
Like last time, I didn’t quite have a kid with me that was in the range. These Ravenburger games seem to be targeted for the 8+ crowd, and I happened to have a six year old in my possession. A six year old with a fairly limited attention span. But you know what? Let’s guinea pig that six year old. While I don’t like flashing it casually out of context, I will say that my son does happen to be on the Autism spectrum, which I thought might affect the way he plays the game (positively or negatively). For the sake of the experiment, my son and I dove into the game together.
He really liked it! My son understood the premise of the game and really enjoyed seeing if our tracks would work for the marble run. He liked setting up the marbles, pushing the little button, and watching everything happen in synchronicity. Now, was he building these tracks? No– that was too involved for him. Hell, it was too involved for me for the most part, though I managed to get the trampoline to work and the ten year old inside of me who never successfully made a science project felt a flutter of excitement.
In the hands of the right kid, Gravitrax could provide hours of fun. All of the elements work and it is only limited by your imagination and capabilities. As for criticism, I don’t like the idea of the add ons, which cost anywhere from $10-$25. I’d rather the toy just cost $99.99 and come with everything you need to make it a really good time. Also, some of the quality of the plastic seems rather low, especially on the marble track pieces. But it has to be light for the ball to zip around correctly, so I’m not exactly sure what to do to fix it here.
I mean, I only just got a ball to gravity fall on a track.
I’m not a physics engineer quite yet.
Gravitrax Review Gallery: