We are constantly on the lookout for new and interesting ways to introduce coding for kids. We believe that learning should fully engage students, which is why we can wholly appreciate unique learning platforms that use games, videos, and other interactive media to help kids learn.
CodeCombat is such a platform.
Founded in 2013, this web-based gaming platform teaches kids coding by letting them clear dungeons, fight monsters, and complete quests.
Sounds cool? We thought so, too! So we decided to try CodeCombat for ourselves and see if it truly lived up to its promise to be “entertaining and motivating to learn.” Keep reading for a full Codecombat review!
What is CodeCombat?
It expertly combines hack-and-slash, turn-based combat with logic puzzles and fantasy scenarios to create a game that encourages kids to learn how to code. Player’s avatars can only move, run, attack, or dodge once the correct command is entered, and running the wrong script can have disastrous consequences.
At higher levels, the difficulty starts to rise fairly exponentially (although not too drastically). At some point, the player’s knowledge of code definitely plays a huge impact on the outcome.
How to implement CodeCombat in a classroom? Find out in the next section of our CodeCombat review!
Follow this link for a FREE TRIAL to CodaKid’s full award-winning course that will teach your child to code!
Implementing CodeCombat in a Curriculum
CodeCombat has eleven comprehensive courses with over hundreds of playable levels, collectively. These courses are categorized according to the appropriate age and skill level. They offer Computer Science 1-6, Web Development 1-2, and Game Development 1-3.
If you’re a teacher, you can sign up to have access to a general dashboard that allows them to select courses for students, customize their study guides, prepare lesson plans, and monitor student progress. There are even necessary translations provided via a helpful open-source community.
Teaching Coding for Kids with CodeCombat
As with any game and method of instruction, there are pros and cons to using CodeCombat as a platform to teach coding for kids. However, in this case, the pros far outweigh the cons.
As the first part of our CodeCombat review, here is a list things we absolutely loved:
The “Play First” Approach
CodeCombat doesn’t upfront tell players that they’re inputting code or that they’re learning computer programming. It presents itself exactly as a game that requires you to enter the right “answer” to get the results you want.
This makes players focus less on the fact that they’re learning Python and more on the fact that they need to enter the right command to make their character attack the incoming skeletal army.
High Visual Gratification
As a game, CodeCombat awards students with gratifying visual results every time they run successful code—and every time they run an error. With traditional coding, an error in your script will just lead to an unresponsive screen or a simple dialog box. With CodeCombat, the wrong code is visually represented as in-game consequences.
Seeing both outcomes so visually can act as sufficient motivation to get the code right every time. This is especially effective for kids who are visual learners.
CodeCombat’s actual gameplay experience is also pretty rewarding. The graphics are sharp and clean, the characters well-made, and the levels suitably designed. And there are a lot of levels to enjoy, too.
Each level is challenging enough to keep things interesting, but there are plenty of hints scattered around to help the players out along the way.
What’s more, the difficulty level of each campaign is adjusted according to the different courses and categories players choose. And from start to finish, the difficulty increases fairly. This allows players to experience the entire game without once feeling overestimated or underestimated with each new dungeon.
Simplified, Not Compromised
The game suggests simplified commands for the player to follow, so you definitely don’t need to have previous coding experience to clear each level.
Unlike other coding for kids platforms, the integrity of programming isn’t compromised for the sake of keeping things simple. Players are taught syntax (which is the foundation of all programming) using beginner-friendly terms, but they must still be aware of their formatting, placement, and basic structure.
For instance, a command such as “hero.moveRight()” will lead your hero in the right direction. But a command such as “hero.moveRight” or “heromove.right” will send your character running straight into a wall of spikes. Proper usage and placement of periods, dashes, parentheses, brackets, and the like are immediately emphasized.
Great Community Support
When you create a CodeCombat account (whether as a student or teacher), you get access to their open-source community; a group of helpful men and women working together to make coding for kids games more accessible.
Follow this link for a FREE TRIAL to CodaKids full award-winning course that teaches important coding concepts like functions, loops, and conditionals!
Accessing & Playing CodeCombat
Once you’ve picked everything you want, you can start playing immediately.
If you intend to keep playing CodeCombat, you’ll need to create a free account to save your progress. Students can either create an individual account or use a Class Code (given to them by a teacher) to create an account linked to their class.
Paying for CodeCombat?
Another thing we admire about CodeCombat is that its core levels are free to play. You can experience eleven levels in their entirety – around 45 minutes of student projects for most learners – without having to spend a cent.
But if you want access to a ton of levels and some cool perks, they do offer a subscription for $9.99 USD a month. With this subscription, you get access to extra level branches to explore. You also get an extra 3,500 bonus gems every month—pretty useful for buying cool armor and weapons for your character.
You can cancel this subscription at any time. CodeCombat also has a 100% money-back guarantee in place.
Other Paid Perks
With a subscription, your child gets access to the following:
- More missions
- Extra lessons
- Exclusive playable heroes
- Access to the “mage” class and, by extension, “spellcasting” which opens up more options for coding
We do recommend investing in this if your child completely falls in love with CodeCombat and wants more. They even get to keep their unlocked content (i.e., missions and characters) even after you cancel the subscription.
But to be very clear, kids can still enjoy CodeCombat fully without paying $9.99, and having a free account doesn’t put them at any sort of disadvantage.
Let’s move on to the most fun part of our CodaCombat review … The gameplay!
Every new player goes through the same introductory tutorial level where they are taught the absolute basics of coding—specifically syntax. There are several levels wholly dedicated to just moving your character using lines of code. No fighting, no complex battle strategies, no convoluted quests. Just, “clear the maze,” “avoid the spikes,” and “pick up the gems.”
Your child only has to familiarize themselves with four commands:
As they move through the different labyrinthine levels, they’ll be taught new ways to modify the four basic commands (i.e., “hero.moveRight(3)”) before eventually being introduced to new commands.
This slow, gradual approach to foundational coding during the tutorial dungeon is absolutely perfect for beginners with zero coding knowledge, as it basically drills the basics of syntax in the player’s head without being overbearing.
Once the player has cleared the introductory levels, they can then move on to the other dungeons. If this is their second time playing it, they can choose to bypass the training level completely.
However, CodeCombat’s gameplay is very linear—one drawback we didn’t enjoy so much. Players cannot choose to jump around and explore other dungeons or levels as they please. Once they pick a dungeon, they must follow the sequential order of the levels until they reach the end.
As players progress through the game, new terrains and new objectives are introduced. Combat is more high-stakes, goals are more specific or demanding (i.e., “clear maze using five lines of code or less”), and other elements of programming (like HTML and scripting) come into play.
Overall, there are roughly 400 levels of varying difficulty—each one a perfect platform for creatively encouraging kids to learn and implement coding.
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CodeCombat Review for Kids Coding: Our Verdict
We’re sure any parent can appreciate a platform that teaches kids complicated concepts in a way that is simple, entertaining, and non-patronizing. CodeCombat manages a perfect three-for-three. It plays to children’s natural love for games, using a genre that is widely loved. It uses a straightforward (and yet utterly genius) system for getting kids to learn and practice coding repeatedly.
CodeCombat manages to simplify advanced programming concepts such as string comparisons, variables, object literals, and relational operators in such a way that kids can understand them without compromising their integrity (i.e., disregarding syntax, formatting, specificity, etc.).
We also love that it’s entirely free. Sure, you can pay for some perks, but the essence of the game and what it has to teach kids isn’t blocked behind a paywall.
Overall, CodeCombat removes the intimidation factor and replaces it with an entertaining, fantasy-themed combat game.
If you’re a parent with a kid interested in learning to code, this is a creatively efficient way to get them started on the basics. If you’re a teacher, this is a great, no-cost activity to add to your students’ computer class curriculum.
The storyline, collectibles, and rewards system should give them sufficient motivation to keep going—and, by extension, keep learning.
Here is the recap of what we covered in our CodeCombat review.
Table of Contents
- What is CodeCombat?
- Implementing CodeCombat in a Curriculum
- Teaching Coding for Kids with CodeCombat
- Accessing & Playing CodeCombat
- CodeCombat for Kids Coding: Our Verdict
Interested in trying out similar coding for kids games like CodeCombat? Let us know what game you want us to review next!
Interested in a course that not only has multiple games, as well as mentor support? Follow this link to gain full access to CodaKid’s award-winning online course that bridges the gap between fun and learning!
We hope that you enjoyed our CodeCombat review.
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