User Rating: Excellent
Pros:Sharp graphics, covers K-3rd grade. Teaches math and basic algebra.
Cons:Exposed electrical contacts, easily removed from hand held device. Mainly for girls. Dark Graphics.
The Bottom Line: Nice Tinkerell themed math game for your little fairies. Sharp graphics, but a little dark. Make sure your little one is ready for the challenge, otherwise, it might be frustrating.
Recommend this product?
For the most part, we've kept our daughter away from most computer and video games. But her 4th birthday was coming up, and we were starting to consider something from Leapfrog because she did have Leap and Lilly which helped her learn the alphabet and count to ten once she started talking.
The Leapster Explorer is recommended for children, ages 4-9. It has a variety of plug in modules for a wide range of developmental stages. It also has several basic games and activities pre-installed. But let's be honest, the reason these kind of toys/games take off is the ability to pop in or download new games. When we purchased the Explorer, we also purchased the Disney Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure Game Cartridge (if you do purchase the Explorer, we also highly recommend the recharger and battery). There have been a number of $5 coupons and sales on this product line. So keep your eyes open for a bargain, especially during the holiday season. I would never pay more than $25 for one of these.
Details About The Cartridge.
The cartridge comes in a case that is about the same size, but about twice a thick as a CD case. And, like most packaging, it's mostly air inside to discourage the 5 finger discount crowd. The cartridge snaps in a little nest within the case, and keeps it pretty well protected.
The cartridge is about the size of a compact flash memory card, but with a little lip or over-hang on the top (little taller to help orient to slot) and bottom. The contacts are gold plated pads along one exposed edge of the cartridge. I think this may present an Electro-Static Discharge (ESD) risk from static shock (hazard to electronics, not the child) if someone is playing around in an area where you get zapped occasionally. Maybe I'm just being paranoid, or maybe it's the engineer in me.
The cartridge loads into the Explorer very easily, and much to my chagrin is just as easily removed. This is quite a temptation for a four year old. There has been at least one occasion where we spent a day and a half trying to locate this Tinkerbell cartridge, not knowing where it was taken out. Could have been anywhere along several stops of a 100 mile trip. Luckily we found it in the seat of the mini-van. Since our daughter is the biggest Tinkerbell fan in the world (well maybe in our zipcode), I was already planning to spend another $25 to replace it before we found it.
How Well Does It Work?
Our daughter has been able to figure out how to use these cartridges rather quickly. Before we knew it, she was more familiar with the games than we were. Each game cartridge tends to highlight a particular class of activities, such as Math, Logic, Spelling/writing, etc. The Disney Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure game is targeted for the 5-9 year old set (K-3rd grade), and focuses on teaching the following learning skills:
The activities are set up around various types of games, such as filling in simple math equations by counting dots in graphic icons, and figuring out which one to select to complete the equation. I find this activity a little difficult, because the dots are pretty small. But I suppose these are geared for fresh young eyes, not eyes going on 50. This activity is embedded in a sort of maze or obstacle course that must be navigated, with bonus points that can be "captured". Some of the obstacles are a bit difficult to negotiate, for an adult, and a 4 year old. I suppose as she gets on toward 5 or 6 years old, this will be a piece of cake for her then. In this activity, Tinkerbell is navigated using the up/down/left/right cursor button and selections are made usually with the A/B buttons.
There are other games or activities contained within this cartridge which are a bit too difficult for our daughter at this time. I plan to try to get some exclusive time with the Leapster Explorer so I can provide some additional feedback on those activities. However, anytime I express interest in the game, our daughter insists on playing and showing me how it works. Please check back in a few weeks for an update, after I've had some time to explore the Explorer and the Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure game cartridge.
Now all that said, this game is intended for a slightly more mature child. And our daughter does have some difficulty with this cartridge. But she has been figuring out some of the activities. She may not understand the cause and effect by guessing the right answer. So ultimately, I wonder if this could be a determent. But the good thing is that she seems to have gravitated more toward the two games that span her age range ( Disney Princess, and Disney Tangled )I find the graphics of this game to be very good, if otherwise dark. I would have preferred to see a more vibrantly colored style. This leaves me feeling a like I'm playing a Batman game. Otherwise, the cartridge loads (boots up) pretty quickly, and is ready to use within about 10 seconds or so.
I would be happy to recommend this to my friends and Epinion readers, and their little ones. But please make sure your little fairy is ready for the level of activities. I think as our daughter matures, this will become one of her favorite games, unless she outgrows Tinkerbell first (is that possible?) She does enjoy the ability to swap different cartridges to satisfy her entertainment desires of the moment. And eventually, this will help her with her basic math skills.
Amount Paid (US$): 25
Type of Toy: Educational
Age Range of Child: Other