Blinks: A smart, tabletop board game

Blinks Tech GameSource: Nicole Johnston/ TechnoBuffalo

Blinks is a fun alternative to traditional board games with a technical twist that brings a unique element of fun to game night. It uses smart technology to give you several different games and playing options, and flexibility to create a game board that allows individual, or group play. I gathered several groups of family and friends to see just how fun this game system is, how it compares to both traditional board games and digital gaming systems, and how long Blinks will hold one’s interest. Here’s everything I learned.


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Blinks Game System

Bottom line: Blinks is a good novelty item, but the games are basic and don’t hold interest for very long. There is potential for the Blinks game system to evolve and become better.

Pros

  • Fun and different game system
  • Growth potential
  • Easy to transport
  • Developer kit available

Cons

  • Games are pretty basic
  • Some quirks getting the system ready to play
  • Expensive

Blinks: Why it’s cool

The Move38 Blinks game system starter kit comes with nine, hexagon-shaped pieces with magnets on each side. This allows the pieces to fit together to create fun shapes that look like honeycombs. Each individual piece is programmed with a different game, so in total, you can play nine different games.

To start a game, arrange all the pieces face down, so that that game tags aren’t showing. Keep the game piece for the one you want to play separate from the other pieces. Some games give you instructions on how to set up the tiles depending on how many people are playing. Others let you design how to arrange your “board.”

Blinks Tech Game

Blinks Tech GameSource: Nicole Johnston/ TechnoBuffalo

The game tile needs to be activated. This is done by pressing down and holding pressure until the tile indicates it is ready. You then connect the game tile to the other hexagon pieces. Each piece will start blinking as it “learns” that game you want to play. The board will let you know when it is ready to play by turning all tiles green.

Blinks Image

Blinks ImageSource: Move38

The games included with the Blinks kit range from simple games, like WHAM!, a Whack-A-Mole type game, and Darkball, which is a basic Pong game, to ZenFlow which is designed to help you meditate and relax. Astro is a fast-paced game that uses the hexagon tiles separately once the board is activated, and is a fun party game since many people can play at once. Overall, the games are pretty straightforward to learn.

Category Blinks Game System
No. of Blinks games included 9
Power source CR2032 watch batteries
Recommended age 12 years and up

When you’re done, you can roll your Blinks tiles into magnetic carrying cases that look like uncut sushi. These can then be easily plopped into a suitcase, purse, or fanny pack to take along on a trip or to a party.

The groups that helped me play with Blinks ranged from young pre-teens to adults over age 50. The older groups ultimately felt a traditional board game was more up their alley, but the preteens, teenagers, and even several young adults found the Blinks to be a fun alternative to bulky game systems. They liked playing an electronic game with other people and not being limited by the number of game controls that can connect in order to play. Some of the games got competitive while others were neat to try out. A couple of people enjoyed playing the solo games Blinks has to offer more than the group ones.

The downside to Blinks

The Blinks game system is pretty innovative, but it does have its limitations and some frustrations. For example, if you don’t set up the game tiles and activate the game just right, and quickly, you have to start from the beginning. There were times when it took three tries to get it right because each tile is so sensitive to touch. It is possible to accidentally touch a game tile as you’re activating the game which results in an error or a dead, unplayable tile. Some of the youngest members of our groups gave up trying after a couple of attempts, while the older generation became intimidated enough to not try at all. Also, if any tile on your board becomes disconnected from the rest of the tiles it cannot simply be reattached. With some games, the entire game setup has to start again from the beginning.

Blinks Tech Game

Blinks Tech GameSource: Nicole Johnston/ TechnoBuffalo

Another setback is the games themselves. At first, they are fun to play. The nine games are different enough to engage the interest and skill level of different players. However, after awhile players became bored and disinterested. Inquiring and encouraging playing Blinks again at a later date weren’t met with the enthusiasm as the first time players tried it. And so the game has sat after the initial curiosity was met. One way to curve this is to purchase the Blink developers kit. This system lets you create and program games you and your friends are interested in playing. It comes with all the hardware and instructions. No additional Blinks come with the development system, but blank tiles are available to purchase separately.

Blinks Image

Blinks ImageSource: Move38

The Blinks starter kit costs $129. That is a substantial investment for a system that didn’t hold interest for very long. Also, each game tile is powered with a button battery, a CR2030 watch battery to be exact. The tiles didn’t show any signs of losing power over the month I tested them. Move38 claims each pieced has enough power to last for 40 hours of game play. But eventually they will go out. Knowing how much batteries cost, it will be a bigger bill to replace nine button batteries compared to the couple of AAs used in a GameBoy or in Operation.

Is Blinks worth it?

Because Blinks is such a new game system, there aren’t more game options than the nine that come with the starter kit. That makes the $129 price tag a little hard to justify. However, Move38 is developing more games that will be released soon and, hopefully, on an on-going basis. With more choices and options for play, Blinks may become a longer-lasting entertainment tool, and possibly set the standard for other smart, tabletop game systems. There also isn’t a lot of incentive to create games compatible with other game systems as you would find in traditional digital gaming. Overall, the idea is smart, the novelty is fun, but it may be a little too pricy to invest in until additional games are available, or when it becomes compatible with other games or gaming systems. I do see potential for Blinks to become a better and more engaging game system in the near future.

4
out of 5






As a party game, the Blinks game system is fun. But for most players the games are too simple to hold interest for very long. It’s also a pretty pricy game system, though there is potential for more games being offered in the future. You can make games yourself with the Blinks Dev Kit.


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Blinks Game System

Bottom line: The Blinkes game system is fun at first, and the idea is brilliant. It just doesn’t have the game variety to justify the price tag, yet.

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