Saturday, September 20, 2008


I was really excited to try out LeapFrog's Leapster2 game system. My kids adore hand-held video games, and because I spend a fair amount of time trying to keep my children busy in waiting rooms, I'm always thrilled to find something that might keep their attention.

Please ignore the green paint on his face and the glue in his hair.
Focus on his intent interest in the game.

This definitely fits the bill. My kids all adore the game. The really nice thing about this system is that it comes with two activities built in, so you can play it right out of the box, or if you forget all your game cartridges at home.

One of those built-in activities is an art program that lets kids create their own art or decorate the scenes provided in the "sketchpad." It was amazing. I'm 35 and I played with it for a good amount of time. It's pretty neat.

The other activity is a learning game that is focused on letters and numbers. I liked this because it had four ability levels ranging from figuring out the difference between letters and numbers to spelling words. All while flying a cute dragon around the screen. I appreciate the fact that all three of my children can play the game.

The controls and stylus are all intuitive and easy to use. I didn't have to coach my five- or six-year-old at all or show them how to play. It is easy and fun.

Another nice feature of the system is that there are slots for three players to create accounts, as well as a guest sign in spot. This works especially well for me, considering I have three children. Kids use these accounts to upload their art to a computer and to view online awards earned during gameplay.

We also tried out Dora the Explorer's Camping Adventure. My kids enjoyed this game, which, among other learning activities, teaches them some Spanish words.

Because I use this game system mainly in waiting rooms, I usually have my guys wear headphones. So it's amusing to see them playing quietly and occasionally bursting out with a Spanish word that Dora tells them to say.

That said, that was the only downside of this game that I saw: to play the games (at least the ones we tried), you need to hear the verbal instructions, so you can't just turn the sound off. There is a volume control, but if you're on a plane or somewhere that people might object to video game sounds, take headphones.

I'm looking forward to trying out some of the many other games offered for this system. For instance, I don't know what Jedi Math is, but Sam is going to learn it. I'm going to buy that for his birthday.

As for those waiting rooms? As long as the Leapster2 is in their hands, they are the best behaved kids around.

Honesty Clause: LeapFrog gave me this toy and the Dora the Explorer game for free. The Leapster2 retails for $69.99. Game cartridges retail for $24.99.