Games not only have the power to entertain but to educate. Despite the press saying the contrary, I believe playing video games have an array of benefits such as improved motor control, awareness of 3D space, increased problem solving ability, and improved reaction times to name but a few.
Whilst many mainstream games have not openly taught maths, science and history LeapFrog have pioneered the way for using games to educate. Over the past 20 years their family of products has been geared toward making gaming educational. Not all have worked, and not all have been successful but their latest offering aims to be the definitive console for children aged 3-8.
The LeapTV is a small, cartridge based, games console, specifically designed for toddlers and small children, for both entertainment and education. With over 100 educator approved games in the pipeline, the child is at the centre of experience. The game controllers are designed for small hands and offer simplicity as well as variation. The controller easily changes into a ‘wand’ for games such as those which include sport. Some games remove the controller entirely and opt for motion control by way of the mini cam.
To celebrate the release of this new console I threw a little LeapTV party to test out the new tech with some of the most demanding game testers on the planet… Kids!
The party consisted of 6 children and their parents playing four of the titles currently available of the system. These included:
- Pet Play World
- Sophia the First
- Disney Pixar Pals
- Leapfrog Kart Racing
The games were well received with Sophia The First being the best single player experience and Kart Racing the best multiplayer.
Pet Play World
This game came pre-installed on the console and everyone had fun making their pets, washing them and playing games with them. This title looks to have the long-lasting appeal as it rewards your pet the more you play with it and your animal ‘levels up’ making the mini games longer over time.
Sophia the First
As the party consisted of mainly girls, this was a big hit. Not just because of the protagonist, but also the array of mini games on offer. Sophia could dig using the wand, sled down a hill using the controller or simply run around collecting gems using the camera. The graphics and sound were great and the inclusion of a ‘Play Theme Tune’ button was inspired as we must have played it about 20 times.
Disney Pixar Pals
Everyone was excited about this one as it starred characters from Toy Story, Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo. Sadly the core ‘platform game’ is clunky to control and whilst the mini games are fun, you have to use the platform game to navigate between them.
LeapFrog Kart Racing
This simple MarioKart clone was great fun for the children as it allowed then to race against each other (and parents) on a myriad of different track types after solving a couple of puzzles to earn their power-ups. The colourful characters were varied enough and power ups were harmless enough. The ‘rubber-banding’ of the race meant that smaller children could still compete with bigger ones and even win after being stuck behind a rock for a minute.
The party was great fun and hopefully the first of many ‘gaming’ parties I will host in the future. The LeapTV is perfectly pitched at the younger audience and my girls are very happy with it. Like all consoles, some of the games won’t be great but with over 100 to choose from, their should be something for everyone.