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



Fall 2012 Toys
Ages: 4 - 9 yrs.
Price: $69.99

The GS is smaller and sleeker than its predecessor and has been reported as a new favorite handheld in testers' homes. The Leapster GS has the horizontal orientation of a gaming device, and it includes a headphone jack. Its 3.5 inch screen can be used as a touchscreen or with the attached stylus. The device has a camera/video recorder, and is motion sensitive too, meaning a child's movements can be incorporated into some games. Like other LeapFrog devices it is very rugged and withstands real-world use.

When you turn on the GS, each child has a profile. The profiles are straightforward to configure. One profile can be "guest" which resets every time. When the child signs in to the Leapster GS, they see their homescreen filled with apps. Three are included on the device, and over three hundred others are available. The games tailor themselves to the player's grade level and experience. While the stated age range is 4 to 9 years, grade levels through 7th grade are available. There is a home button on the GS that can get the user back to the homescreen at any time.

The apps our reviewers played, including the three pre-loaded apps, included: camera/video recorder and camera games, a drawing app, a "pet pad" where you can train a virtual pet, "Busy Builder" game, Escape of the Sillies math facts game, a Cars reading game, "Matt's Magic Show" math game, "Hap In the Kitchen" math/cooking game, "Monkey Soccer", "Squirrel Summer Time Games" , "Little Pim" - half an hour multi-cultural video, "Word World" alphabet videos, and Discovery environmental videos. Testers were pleased with improved functionality and included content.

All young testers really enjoyed taking photos and videos, and especially commented on the feature that lets them doodle on top of their photos. Among the favorite games were Escape of the Sillies (involves tapping on Sillies with correct math facts and frequent shaking of the GS) , Splurgle (changing water into different states to get through a route), Hap In the Kitchen (measuring different fractions of ingredients and using creative thinking to put together an entire recipe). The whole experience is "gamified" so the users get badges for doing more actions on the device (completing a certain number of photos, etc.). Testers in the upper age range were motivated to explore and use the different features to get badges.

It has a slot for game cartridges, which you have to buy separately. The LeapsterGS takes 4 AA batteries.

Rachel Schiff   ©2012 Parents' Choice

Look for this product at:
Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc

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