LeapFrog Leapster 2 Learning Card Game - 21155 Reviews
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LeapFrog Leapster 2 Learning Card Game - 21155

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Leapfrog Leapster 2: How Does It Compare to the Leapster Explorer?

Jan 24, 2011
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Academic gaming, backwards compatibility, kid-friendly

Cons:Below average graphics/sound, not the latest system

The Bottom Line: Some days my daughter wants to play with the Leapster Explorer, but some days, she chooses her Leapster 2!

My oldest daughter is almost 4, and she just loves to play video games.   She also loves to learn new things, so I will take any opportunity to combine these two activities by guiding her towards academic gaming. 

Leapfrog is one of the biggest names in academic gaming systems.   My daughter has had a Leapster 2 for almost a year.   This is not the newest system from Leapfrog, but it is still worthwhile.   Actually, we also have the Leapster Explorer, but my daughter did not really show interest in the Leapster 2 until after she had become accustomed to her Leapster Explorer. 

The Leapster 2 is a handheld gaming system.  It has a directional pad on the left side and two buttons on the right side.   The system is held with both hands, which makes it easy to push the buttons with your thumbs.   The middle of the unit has the screen, which is rather large.   The screen is a touch screen, and children can interact with the content on the screen by using a stylus.  The stylus is tethered to the system, so it can never get lost.  There is even a little holster to store the stylus, so it is not just hanging down and getting in the way.   In addition to tapping things, the stylus can also be used to trace letters in some games. 

The Leapster 2 takes AA batteries.  There are also optional charging systems that can be purchased.  The system does use up batteries fairly quickly.

The Leapster 2 has space for three profiles.  This means that up to three children in one household can use the system.  As long as each child logs in using his/her profile, the system will keep track of his/her progress and work and differentiate it from the work that the other children in the house are doing.   

The Leapster 2 has two games built onto the system.  Both games feature dragons, who will guide your child through the activities.  The first game involves letter/number identification and the second game is a drawing/art game. 

The bulk of the Leapster experience is going to stem from cartridge games, which are sold separately.  These games often feature popular characters like Scooby Doo, Ratatouille, Kai Lan, Dora, and many others.      The games teach basic academic skills like phonics, reading, addition, subtraction, and much more.  The games have multiple levels of difficulty, so there is always a challenge.

The best thing about the Leapster 2 is that it can accommodate cartridges from older Leapster systems, like the original Leapster and the Leapster L-Max.  This is not the case with the Leapster Explorer, which only plays Explorer cartridges.   This is most advantageous for families who have older Leapster systems, but it is worth mentioning to everyone. 

Parents/caregivers can use a USB cable to connect the Leapster 2 to their computer.   By using the Leapfrog Connect software, parents can track their child's progress and see which areas are a child's strength and which areas need a little more attention. 

The Leapster 2 is not without its downsides.  First of all, the system is rather bulky.  It is also on the heavy side.   The screen is large, but I have found that I am constantly adjusting the brightness for my daughter so that she can actually see the screen.  The graphics are on the fuzzy side, and the sound is tinny.  Ultimately, despite these flaws, it is still easy to identify the characters and the objective of the game.    

Now, I am not a video game snob.  I am not expecting a top-of-the-line whiz-bang experience, but after playing with the Leapster Explorer, I can see that a lot of those issues have been addressed; it is a much smoother gaming experience. 

Over the holiday season, the Leapster 2 could be purchased for as low as $25.  There were a couple of days when games were $10 on Amazon.  I think prices like that are very fair, and for prices like that, I can recommend the Leapster 2. 

However, as of this writing, the Leapster 2 is only about $10 less than the Leapster Explorer on Amazon.    Games for both systems hover around $18-$19.  In this current climate, I cannot recommend the Leapster 2.   I would have to persuade you to go with the Leapster Explorer. 

But, I know that Target has had Leapster 2s on clearance in some parts of the country, and with the Explorer being the next big "thing", one can only assume that the Leapster 2 is slowly being phased out.  If you should happen across a clearance situation, or if you find a Leapster 2 at a children's consignment sale or resale shop, the Leapster 2 does offer a lot of fun. 

My daughter does not seem to care that the Leapster 2 graphics are not as crisp as they are on her Leapster Explorer.  She has fun playing the games, and I like that she is working on her academic skills- the fundamental skills she is building are the foundation for what she will be learning during her entire academic career. 

I do recommend the Leapster 2.  As I have mentioned several times, my daughter will actually ask for her Leapster 2 at times, even though the newer Leapster Explorer is also available to her. 

However, I recommend the system with the caveat that you really ought to compare the price of the Leapster 2 to the price of the Leapster Explorer.  If you encounter clearance prices, you have the green light from me.  If however, there is less than a $20 difference between the Leapster 2 and the Leapster Explorer, I really have to urge you to go with the Explorer. 

Recommend this product? Yes

Amount Paid (US$): 25

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