Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Frogger: Hop, Skip & Jumpin' Fun

Frogger: Hop, Skip & Jumpin' Fun

Fall 2008 Video Games
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Producer: ImaginEngine
Price: $29.95
Gaming System: Playstation 2
Two reincarnations are happening with this hyper quasi-educational game-part of a Kids Playground series for little kids only. Sony is trying to revive its old PlayStation 2 system into a pre-schooler learning and play machine. And Konomi, the king of dance-pad videogaming (as in Dance Dance Revolution, etc.), is trying to reinvent its Frogger franchise (original Frogger game dates to 1981) as kiddy edu-tainment.

The idea is to get tikes on their feet stomping, jumping and skipping on the required special controller mat* (see note below) on which colored shapes are electronically connected to colors and shapes on the screen images. So as Frogger or his friend Lilly hop around through the woods, paths and swamps hitting different shapes or colors, kids try to jump on the corresponding shape or color on the mats.

There are a dozen interactive games included-all simple and all requiring lots of exercise. The simplest has no rules and just induces players to jump on any of the mat controls. Others are more game-like-such as the hopscotch game or the insect-catching game (stomp on the shape beneath the on-screen insect and Frogger gulps the bug with his tongue). Graphics are colorful but very basic and the animation is minimal. The music will appeal to little kids and so will the Frogger and Lilly characters.

But will kids get an aerobic workout, improve coordination and motor skills, and learn a healthy, active lifestyle, as Konomi suggests? Hmmm. Something like that. Will kids learn shapes and colors during that workout, as Konomi says? Possibly. One thing for sure is this game doesn't subject your children to the thumb numbing that standard PS2 controllers do-and it is fun.

*Note: Konami's Kids Playground series includes four titles and, according to Konami's info on the series, the Frogger title is the only one that includes the special controller mat, but all of the titles use the mat.

Don Oldenburg   ©2008 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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