A Learning Handheld Electronic Game for the Young’uns: Leapster

I am not big on handheld electronic games for small children. Having said that, this was the best buy for my child. She had little interest in toys before having the Leapster. We have had the Leapster for years now and she still plays with it. From the day I bought it, she played with it without me encouraging her to play. I swear that first day I had to pry it out of her hands at bedtime! If you knew my child, you would know why this thrilled me! Usually she did not play, she would follow me around the house.

What I also loved about the Leapster are the learning games. So I do not feel so bad about her playing an electronic game. I cannot say that I am the only one teaching her as the Leapster has taught her so much too! Autistic children learn best by seeing that is why PECS systems are so popular! The Leapster’s graphics and games are perfect for the way my child learns!

There is another Leapster on the market that connects to the television, this one does not do that. It is only a handheld game which suits us just fine. That makes it easily able to travel. We have to travel an hour each way to therapy and this Leapster game ceases the grumbling and crying from the backseat! It keeps my daughter occupied for long stretches of time and she is learning from playing.

The Leapster has sound controls, the sound can be turned off or turned up. There are about 11 different levels of sound that you can put the Leapster on. The voices are encouraging and friendly. It also has a switch to dim or lighten the screen. The graphics are bright and clear on it. The actual screen is 3″ by 3″ almost. Seems small but you can see the games very well! There are times the stylus may stop working so well, this is fixed by recalibrating it. This is easy to do!

We have had it for years and it is very sturdy. I have only worried about the stylus as my daughter tends to chew on it and pull the game around by the cord that the stylus hangs on. They do sell packs for the Leapster and additional games you can buy for it. It comes with a thick protective plastic covering for the screen, it flips up and attaches to the back when the child is playing and then flips back down over the screen and snaps into place. The stylus is 3 1/2″ long and is made of plastic, it has a rubber hold on the stylus pen. There is a holding place for the stylus at the bottom of the Leapster. The stylus is attached to the Leapster by a cord so it does not get lost.

There are buttons on the front of the Leapster to control the game: Home to go back to the start where all of the games are listed, Hint if the child needs help, Pause in case Mom is talking to child and child wants to pause game, A and B buttons. There are also the dimmer and lighter switches on the side of it to adjust the lighting on the screen and volume buttons on the top as well as the on/off switch is at the top. There are arrow keys too so different games can be played.

If your child wants to hear the sound but you do not, there is a place to hook up headphones. Headphones are not sold with the Leapster. It is solid and about one pound in weight. My child can easily play the Leapster and use all of the buttons on it with no issues. It is made for younger children so they can easily play it. The Leapster is 3.1 x 11 x 11 inches. The console allows 3 different players to save their progress and also a guest to play.

The Leapster comes with various games inside of the handheld console. Other game cartridges are sold as well that cost $20 and more. Every now and again, I will see one on sale for $12.00 but not often. Since the new version of the Leapster came out, these are going on sale more often. We paid $93 for this one but that was a long time ago. Now you can find them for $59.00. You have to watch as some do not include as many games in the Leapster console. Read the package carefully as some may have more games included. Ours came with Shape Shop, The Chicken Coop, The Color Corral, and Rabbit River.

The Shape Shop:
My daughter’s favorite one.This one has 3 different levels that get progressively harder. In this game, the child uses the stylus or their finger to move shapes into a picture/ diagram. Such as a picture of a train has a triangle, rectangle, square, and a smaller rectangle shape in it. The child looks at the bottom of the screen and moves the right shape into the right place on the picture of the train. There is no time limit. Little mice have asked for your help to build.

The Chicken Coop:
In this game, the child can pick either letters, shapes, colors, or numbers. Then they can pick the number of chickens they want to play with. This number goes up with the different levels. This game also has 3 levels. This is a matching game where the chickens are sitting on eggs, when the chicken is touched, she flies away and reveals the shape, number, letter, or color.

Rabbit River:
This game has 4 levels. This game has the rabbit jumping across the river on logs. As it goes along it gets harder, with the child having to search for letters to spell bed or numbers to add to 10. It goes up to the highest level of multiplication and spelling longer words. It can get challenging even for me!

The Color Corral:
This is an art play space. There are various pictures that are devoid of color and the child can color them in and put in different stamps of various animals and things that actually have sounds and move! I love that one button makes it snow, rain, night, or day. The different backgrounds are a barn in color, a barn with no color, a spooky house with spooky music no color and with color, a pond with color and without, a space scene with color and without, under the ocean in color and without color, and a blank page for the child to create their very own.

The different stamps are: mouse, owl, broom, comet, astonaut, anchor, fish, spider, worm, stars, seahorse, treasure chest, sunflower, ghost (cute!), shooting star, ladybug, lobster, frogs (the characters in the Leapster games), chicken, cat, duck, spaceship, butterfly, pumpkin, octopus, starfish, rabbit, and a cute alien! On the blank page, the child can use the magic wand and move it across to reveal a secret picture. The child can choose the width of his paints or writing and the colors when he is drawing his own picture.

As the child plays these games, they collect seeds. Then they can go to Birdie Bonanza to feed the birds. They get to see the birds put on a show or sing a song. Each level and difficulty of each level will give more seeds and when the child does a game quicker, they get even more seeds. Each game tells the time it took to finish it. So the child can try to beat their time or a friend’s time. Also there are certain games that will give a code so the child can go online to www.leapsterworld.com and put in the code for a cool surprise. When this first came up on the Leapster, my daughter must have repeated www.leapsterworld.com a hundred times a day!

The Leapster does eat batteries. You will spend more in batteries than for the charger so just break down and buy it. Trust me, I am telling you from experience. It is worth it! Also the headache about the Leapster dying and the child crying is gone with the charger! We place ours on it each night and it is ready to go the next day.

All of the games are unisex. I have had boys play my daughter’s Disney Princess game and girls fighting with her over wanting to play her Spiderman game! The games are so fun that either would enjoy them. They are all learning games, nothing objectionable in them. If you have twins, do not think that they will share this because they will not. We know twins that received only one for Christmas and there was hair pulling, screaming, and fistfights and this was just in my backseat! It is marketed for children ages 4-10 years old but I have had children younger than that and older than that playing it and loved it. There is help built in the game if children need more instructions to play a game. Really the only drawback to owning the Leapster is not being able to afford the expensive games!