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VTech V.Smile Motion

Submitted by on September 3, 2009 – 11:34 amNo Comment

“Even though a lot of the V.Smile game’s educational content went over Flea’s head, she liked crashing the car or making the skiing man hit the flags.”

Buy online at John Lewis
Price £49.99


Initial Thoughts: Flea’s cousins have a Nintendo Wii but I’m too much of a paranoid Mummy not to feel weird about kids her age playing Star Wars and other “fighting” games. Flea also doesn’t really understand the Wii controls so whenever she plays 2-player games with them they get very frustrated with her because her figure doesn’t ever move! I thought this console would be a good introduction for her, while also providing some ‘safe’ content that I didn’t have to worry about her seeing.

We liked: The console is easy enough to set up once you’ve plugged it into the right socket on the TV – obviously, then, this took us ten minutes – and it’s nice and robust with a simple on/off button, and a nice little area to store game cartridges. I like toys that Flea could potentially get out and play with herself, and put away, and this is simple enough for her to do that without my help.

I’ve read complaints online about the graphics on the V.Smile being poor but it depends what you expect – this is very definitely not Wii or PC quality graphics, but more like the Spectrum+ games I played as a kid – they’re perfectly fine for younger kids, I think.

The game play is fairly straightforward and fun – the game included is based on sports such as car racing and skiing, and the child has to move the character left or right to select different letters or numbers. Even though a lot of the game’s educational content went over Flea’s head, she liked crashing the car or making the skiing man hit the flags.

We weren’t keen: The V.Smile motion comes with a wireless motion-sensing controller. This is great in theory because it means kids can tip the controller left or right to control their character. The problem is that the controller ALSO has a joystick and a big orange button and some smaller buttons. Flea was forever getting confused over what to press and when.

Although this is aimed at 3+, I think the included game is well beyond children of Flea’s age – she’s just turned four. For starters, she’s learning phonics but the game uses letter names – which she found confusing. Then the game uses spelling, which is pointless for children not yet reading with some fluency – for example, it might put up the word “BO-K” on screen with a picture of a book and ask which letter is missing – which went completely over Flea’s head.

A small point, but I was a bit surprised to find that the power adapter is sold separately – at £9.99 when we went into ToysRUs. So out of the box you need to run the console on batteries.

Overall: My advice would be to buy another game for 3 and 4 year olds, as I think the included game might go over the heads of younger children, so they’ll likely get bored quickly. But if you want a gentler introduction to gaming for children 5+, then this is well worth considering. And buy a power cord and second handset when you buy the console.

[By Sally – Who’s the Mummy?]

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