Leapfrog Leapster Explorer
If you’re wavering over whether to buy a DS this year for a smaller child, then the Leapster Explorer could be worth a look
Buy online ToysRUs
Initial thoughts: The Leapster Explorer is described as an education games console for 4-9 year olds, and therefore it’s an obvious alternative to the Nintendo DS. We received the Explorer as part of the Toyologist programme from ToysRUs, and it was tested by Harry, 5, Annie, 8, and their Dad. Here’s what they thought:
Harry was really excited to see this, particularly as he doesn’t yet have his own DS. The set-up was okay, but it’s worth remembering this requires you to download software from the Internet before playing – so you might want to do that BEFORE giving it to an excited five-year-old.
We liked: The console itself is chunky and robust, and the children liked that they could each have their own account on the console – they could create their own pet to look after, and when they played games, the difficulty level was pitched to each child differently based on their ages. We played this with a Madagascar game (£19, purchased separately) and the graphics were great, with a nice platform game combined with spelling challenges and other mini-games. That said, Harry completed the entire game within a single day, so it wasn’t amazingly challenging.
We weren’t keen: There were some small quibbles with this. It seems odd that the Leapster Explorer runs on batteries and can’t be plugged in – making it potentially expensive to run. There were also some issues with the game on the console – the children both loved creating a pet and looking after it but within 60 seconds of playing with their pet, the machine told them they had to ‘buy’ more shampoo and food for their pet – whicn meant hooking it back up to my laptop and downloading from the website. New supplies ran out again within a few minutes.
Overall: The Leapster Explorer is a nice option for younger children, and the games are all appropriate for younger children and definitely boost spelling and reading skills. However, the fact it runs on batteries and the fact that games are all geared to younger kids means it won’t last as long as a DS might – we felt kids would grow out of the Leapster Explorer well before the age of 9.
[Sally, Who’s the Mummy?]
We weren’t keen: