are infatuated with handheld games, and, unlike most
infatuations, this one lasts. The Leapster is a portable
handheld toy that not only has staying power, parents
can feel confident about the time children will inevitably
for children from preschool to first grade, Leapster is
a fun and educational alternative to units like the GameBoy. It
features a large color LCD screen that is touch-sensitive, a directional arrow
pad, and other gaming buttons. Best of all, kids use the
attached stylus pen to interact with the game's
learn as they play engaging games with both audio
and visual reinforcement. Unlike GameBoy, Leapster speaks to
kids as they play, which is especially helpful for children
not yet able to read fluently. Kids interact with the games by
pressing arrow buttons and controls, and by using the
unit comes with one software cartridge, and more software is
available separately. If the success of LeapFrog's LeapPad
is any indication, parents can feel confident that the
Leapster software library will grow and flourish. At the
time of this review, Leapster software includes Leapster Software: Kindergarten, Leapster Software: Dora the Explorer- Animal Rescue, Leapster Interactive Video: The Letter Factory, Leapster Software: SpongeBob SquarePants Saves the Day, Leapster Mr. Pencil Learn To Draw and Write, Leapster Software Math Baseball,
and Leapster Software: 1st Grade.
on the software used, Leapster is an educational
game player, electronic book reader, interactive video
player, and digital art studio. The educational games are
multi-level and adjust to children's performance. Hints and
tutorials are given.
included software features five main activities. With the
exception of the coloring and music activities, the games are
multi-level. Kids select the difficulty level by touching a
number with the Leapster pen (stylus). One game, Catcher
Fields, involves moving Tad along the screen in order to
catch falling letters. On the first level, children are
shown and told the letters they need to catch. On level two,
kids are asked to catch letters without the visual prompt.
Level three features alphabetic order. When children make a
few mistakes, a tutorial with Edison begins. Kids can skip
the tutorial by pressing the Hint button, if they wish. When
kids catch a few wrong letters in the alphabetic order
activity, for example, Edison flies onto the screen and
suggests they try singing the alphabet song.
animations are adorable and help boost the entertainment
value of the toy. This toy is highly interactive.
design of Leapster is outstanding, reflecting careful
attention to detail. A protective cover flips over when the
unit is not in use. Although changing the batteries is a
little time-consuming (a screwdriver is required), the
design insures that little hands don't contact the batteries.
Leapster sports a nice large screen and play area, but
remains lightweight. It is larger than a GameBoy
Advance, but not too big that it discourages portability. A
headphone jack is included (headphones aren't), which is a
nice option, especially for long car rides! The toy operates
on 4 AA batteries so that it can be taken anywhere, but when
kids are content to stay put, Leapster can operate with an
optional AC adapter.
Leapster Recharging System is available separately and is an
economical option for families. It includes a rechargeable
battery pack, a docking system, and an AC adapter. With this
unit, kids can easily recharge their Leapster when they're
not using it (overnight, for example).
toys have impressed us as much as Leapster. For families
with children anywhere from 4 to 7, Leapster is the toy to