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Toy Review:    Leapster

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Toy Review: Leapster Multimedia Learning System (LeapFrog)

Electronic Toy

By Leap Frog

Our Recommended Age: 3-6

Our Rating: A+






Buy Leapster Multimedia Learning System






Top Pick. Children 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 spend using the unit.


Designed 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 software.


Children 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 touch-sensitive pen.


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.


Depending 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.


The 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. 


The animations are adorable and help boost the entertainment value of the toy. This toy is highly interactive.


The 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.


A 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).


Few toys have impressed us as much as Leapster. For families with children anywhere from 4 to 7, Leapster is the toy to buy.




  • Finally, a handheld that offers educationally valuable games without subtracting from the fun.
  • Loaded with superior design features -- the care taken in the development of the product is evident.
  • Portable, lightweight, expandable system.
  • Extremely appealing.
  • Adorable animations.

  • Children will want more software for the handheld, which can become expensive. However, this system is generally less expensive than GameBoy Advance.


Our Rating:



For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Leapster Multimedia Learning System
Reviewed April 2004
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