Review by David Thomas, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2015
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Hakitzu Elite: Robot Hackers

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Code-fueled robot battles err on the side of engagement

Subjects & skills

  • Critical Thinking
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Pros: Consumer-quality graphics and a high-tech theme will draw kids in.

Cons: Doesn't actually teach a lot of code, and features can be hard to use.

Bottom Line: A great concept that can hook kids on coding, but will require teachers to look elsewhere to make learning stick.

Hakitzu would work well as one of several options to introduce coding to kids. While the robot theme will certainly appeal to some students, it won't grab them all. Used as an option early in a lesson about programming, the robot battle theme could stimulate interest. But over time, the game won't take kids very far in their coding education, and teachers will need to be ready to send interested students elsewhere for deeper learning.

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In some futuristic dystopia, humanoid robots battle to death in a combat arena. Played out like a life-sized version of chess, the game has players program their battle bots using pre-set functions and JavaScript syntax. Each turn, the bots run their code, attempting to disable the enemy and hack their central command core. Students will appreciate the polished 3-D graphics that feel more like a video game they'd play at home than a traditional educational game. The visuals go a long way in building interest.

On face value, Hakitzu provides an enticing gateway for younger robot fans to take control of their machines and learn a little code. A stripped-down JavaScript coding interface allows players to send their robots marching across the screen and into various forms of melee. And while this programming chess match can be fun, it ultimately fails to deliver in any meaningful way on its educational promise. Hakitzu could have its place as a teaser to get kids interested in learning code. But for more in-depth engagement and learning, other titles carry the programming lessons to much greater depth in a more supportive environment.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Featuring flashy graphics closer to what you would find on a modern gaming console, Hakitzu promises thrilling gameplay and has great visual appeal.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Controlling combat robots with code sounds like a great way to get kids programming. In practice, the lightweight JavaScripting and emphasis on slick graphics create some learning disconnects. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Built-in tips and hints zip past on-screen, so it’s easy to get stuck and hard to figure out where to turn for help.

Common Sense Reviewer
David Thomas Director of academic technology

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