Objective: You are a wanted criminal who is hiding from the police. Unable to get out of the country, you instead construct a maze in the area around your hideaway. When the cops find out where you are, the police send in one squad car first to assess the situation. When you hear the sirens in the distance, you decide that itís time to leave. Initially, the time limit for the police car is 2 minutes. If the cop car makes it through the maze within 2 minutes, you are captured and sent to prison. If you escape, you advance to the next level.

Operation: First, using the set of 25 maze pieces included in the kit, you construct a maze for the police car to run. The start plate should be placed on an edge square, though the end plate can be placed anywhere. You may use all 25 pieces, more if you have purchased additional kits, or less if you so choose.

maze

Panel 1

Then, using input controls on the trunk of the car, you select the level of operation. The higher the level, the more 'intelligently' the car will behave. Since the cop car uses a computer algorith to figure out which way to go down the maze, the search depth and memory depth will depend on the level selected. You also must tell the car how large the maze is, that is, how many pieces long is it on the longest side.

maze

Panel 2

maze

Panel 3

Remember, this is a 'smart' cop car. It can remember everywhere is has traveled, so it will have a picture of what the maze looks like from everywhere it has been. If you lie, you automatically lose. A larger maze means that the cop car will have more time to traverse it. Remember that you have to plan your escape as well. A larger maze makes it harder for you too. Additionally, with each round of play completed, the car will automatically raise the level one step, and it will make attempts to 'learn' your style. This car is running a very complicated computer program. You may be surprised how hard it can be to trick.

As soon as you press go, the car starts off. At level 1 with a size 5 maze, the car has 120 ticks, approximately 1 minute to complete the task.

maze

Panel 4

The car begins to drive down a random path. If it "hits" a wall, it will be able to back up and go down a different way. If set to a higher difficulty level, the car will make more intelligent choices as it tries to "guess" where you, the criminal, is hiding.


maze

Panel 5

When the final destination is reached, the round ends. Results are then calculated and shown on the display panel. A positive or zero time reading means that you didn't make it out. A negative time reading means that you escaped.


maze

Panel 6

maze

Panel 7

Scoring: Scoring is cumulative for each session, which may include more than one round. There is no feature that enables scores to be saved. However, the all time high score will be retained automatically. Scoring depends on level of difficulty, maze size, and elapsed time. If the cop car is unable to complete the maze, you receive a very nice bonus that increases with level but decreases with maze size. The score is updated continuously on the LCD panel while the car is running. The longer the car must run, the more points you will earn. You will also be awarded points for wrong turns, dead ends, and time spent backing up.

Extended Operation: For a little more fun, bring a friend. Set the maze up as usual, but include two start points. Put one car on each starting position, and program then with the same level and maze size. If you hit the 'Go' button on one car, it will detect the other car and both will start moving. This can be especially fun with an extra large maze. The two cars will communicate to each other information about the maze as they both try to solve the case together.

Interactivity: Here's more about the interactivity. The car has feelings. That's right. It can get pissed off, or it can make fun of you. Once the car starts down the maze, it may encounter trouble: a wall, a dead end, back to where it started. If any of those things happened, the car's speaker chimes in above the sirens with phrases like 'darn,' or 'what am I doing here again!' If the maze turns out to be too easy, it'll let you know too. Or it may congratulate you for a maze well done.

Actions/Reactions:

  • The police car hits a wall. It reverses.
  • The police car detects a split in the road. It chooses a direction and proceeds.
  • In Variation 2, if the police car detects you, it pursues you.
  • The car flashes its lights and sirens as it proceeds. The car can get "excited" or "frustrated." It indicates its "feelings" through siren noises, horn honks, backup alarms, flashing lights, etc.
  • The car takes a wrong turn. It "learns" the course, where to go, where not to go.
  • The car uses its algorithms to predict where you might be hiding. Its predictors improve at higher levels. For example in can detect it is traveling in a circle and avoid situations where it could go off the board and be forced to back up.