LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Pet Pals 2: Best of Friends!
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Pet Pals 2: Best of Friends! is a great introductory title for the Leapster Explorer and LeapPad Explorer. Unlike some of the other games, this one does not follow a set story line. Kids are free to explore, play games, and take care of their puppy. It does have an emphasis on consumer behavior, as you are given coins for doing certain tasks (including being a good friend) and are encouraged to buy clothes, toys, and premium food for your puppy. The game also supports Micromods, which allow kids to connect online and download additional game-related content, and the LeapFrog Learning Path where parents can track their kids' progress in the game.
What kids can learn
- achieving goals
- identifying emotions
- labeling feelings
- friendship building
Engagement, Approach, Support
The activities on feelings and friendship can help connect kids to their own life experiences. The math sections feel forced, but do help kids with simple arithmetic skills. Nothing too deep, but all age appropriate.
Parents can track kids' progress through the LeapFrog Learning Path and will find additional tools and resources on the LeapFrog website to help reinforce the learning.
What's it about?
LEAPFROG EXPLORER LEARNING GAME: PET PALS 2: BEST OF FRIENDS! invites the player to adopt a puppy, name him/her, and then care for this new friend. Puppies need to be bathed, played with, fed, dressed, and entertained. Kids earn Puppy Points for nurturing their pets. As they earn more points, they increase in rank and are eventually able to adopt additional friends. Outside of the virtual house, there are plenty of other things to do. Kids can shop at the Pup Boutique or the Bark Mark for clothes, food, and toys. They can visit the training center to learn new tricks or the park to play with friends. There's a dog show where kids demonstrate their ability to bathe and dress their pet, and also show off their math skills (addition and subtraction).
Kids can earn trophies and coins that they can use to shop. While walking around outside, they also have the chance to make friends with the 10 other puppies who live in town. If they can tell what emotion the puppies are feeling (from a multiple choice set of images), they can build up their friendship and possibly earn prizes. And if they're in need of more cash, they can try out the Treasure Hunt, where they can earn coins and collectible items. Much like other games, they earn badges for completing tasks and meeting goals.
Is it any good?
Pet Pals 2: Best of Friends! is a cute game that will have a lot of appeal across gender lines in the target age range. Because it doesn't require a lot of special knowledge or gaming skill, it skews younger, but picking out your own puppy and playing with it does have universal appeal. Although there is no set storyline and no "end goal," kids may enjoy trying to become "best friends" with all of the puppies in town and finding all of the collectibles in the treasure hunt. Other kids will simply enjoy the day-to-day care of the puppies without being concerned about completing things. This one is a good staple for the library of Leapster Explorer/LeapPad Explorer owners, especially those on the younger side.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about caring for a pet. What does it take to care for a pet in the real world? How is that different from caring for a virtual pet in a game?
They can also discuss what it means to be a good friend. How can you be a good friend? What can you do if one of your real friends is happy/angry/sad?
Families can talk about money. What does it mean to save money? Why would you choose to save your money rather than spend it right away?