Leapfrog LeapTV Educational Active Video Game System
The Leapfrog LeapTV gaming system promises to “Get minds and bodies moving”. Our testing showed this promise is very much fulfilled!
Not that we’re cynical or anything, but we’re usually sceptical when anyone apart from Nintendo, Sony & Microsoft attempt to launch new console gaming systems…because the level of investment and technical know how often prevents other companies from executing well. HOWEVER, we have to eat humble pie when it comes to the LeapFrog LeapTV Educational Active Video Game System because Leapfrog have really hit the mark.
The kids we tested with had a great time playing with this system, but perhaps more importantly from a parents perspective, they had a great time while their education/development was boosted!
We don’t tend to review technical specifications at The Toy Verdict, because it’s the experience/play value that counts. There are other places to look at such technical minutiae as processing power etc., for us the point is does the technology allow kids to do what they want to do without too much frustration, and the answer with the LeapTV is resoundingly yes – in fact we were very pleasantly surprised with the performance of the system, and because we tested games on cartridges (which tend to have quicker load times than disc based systems in our experience) that hanging loading frustration we often find was absent.
One of the cleverest things about the LeapTV system is that there are 3 different control modes – ‘body motion’ where the kids move without the controller, ‘pointer play’ where kids use the controller to point at the screen/the camera and ‘classic control’ mode which is more like a traditional console controller. This control system flexibility allows for a greater number of game play patterns and enhances the overall experience once kids get the hang of it (which they seemed to do fairly easily).
Navigation between games/screens within game was straightforward and children seemed to find this very easy to manage. In terms of other playability factors, overall the system worked well and games were easy to play. There were a few points where children ahd to concentrate to be precise enough to move in the right direction to grab the right image on screen for instance, but this didn’t prove to be a frustration factor.
In terms of games available for the system, at the time of writing there appear to be plenty to choose from. One of the great features of the catalogue of games available is the use of well known/liked characters to entice children into interacting/playing with their favourite characters as a cool and entertaining activity, with educational/developmental advancement as an added bonus! Popular characters include Spider-Man, Jake & The Never Land Pirates, Sofia The First, Bubble Guppies, Dora, Paw Patrol and others. There are also other games without known characters but offering well known, much loved play patterns i.e. kart racing etc.
In the Spider-Man game we tested children move ‘Spidey’ around in a very entertaining game format, and then hit mini-games where they have to solve puzzles/riddles to progress, needless to say those puzzles/riddles are actually developing the child’s use of words, spelling, phonics etc. The best thing about this understated educational content is that Leapfrog have got the balance just right in terms of how much pure fun there should be versus pure education. The children we tested with didn’t even to notice that they were doing school type work because they were having so much fun!
In the other game we tested for the LeapTV – Dance And Learn – kids get fully engaged in a console game dancing experience while again developing vocabulary, phonics, knowledge of the alphabet and compound words. There are pure fun dancing modes which get kids up and moving in a very energetic fashion while seeing themselves dance up on the TV (which kids really loved!) as funny/cute characters dance along on screen, and games which are more about word learning. This game came with 3 game modes and 9 different dance games offering huge play value, positive educational impact and physical exercise – what more can you ask for!
There is some set up when you first get the LeapTV out of the box, but we didn’t find it too arduous. It basically boils down to connecting to Wi-Fi, registering with Leapfrog which can be skipped if time is short, then it’s just a matter of plugging the HDMI cable into the TV , the camera/sensor into the console and plugging the power in. Because we review/test so many products, set up is a real annoyance for us, but we genuinely didn’t find this to be either a). complex or b) lengthy. This is as simple as console set up is going to get in this day and age!
Finally, at the time of writing, the LeapTV looks like great value versus other console gaming systems, with consoles available online for just under $100/£80, which is frankly ridiculously cheap for a system as good as this. For sure you’ll need to buy games for the system, but again with most games currently (at time of writing) costing c. $20/£20 this compares very well with other systems on the market. (N.B. please note pricing for products is usually subject to wide fluctuations, so please research all pricing carefully at the time of any purchases!).
WHO’S IT FOR: Kids aged 3-6 years are going to get the most out of LeapTV. Parents who want to get their kids moving and learning should find the LeapTV delivers on both these goals.
THE TOY VERDICT: The LeapTV is a very good console system, offering active and educational play in a highly entertaining format at a great price. Kids loved playing on the games, and play appeared to be free of any technical frustrations. The flexibility of the 3 mode control system allowed for a wide variety of playing formats. Overall we loved the Leapfrog LeapTV Educational Active Video Game System. Highly recommended.