Animal Genius

Game review by
Jinny Gudmundsen, Common Sense Media
Animal Genius Game Poster Image
Seamlessly incorporates learning into fun gaming.

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The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Promotes learning as a fun activity.

Violence & Scariness

In a maze game when you are a lion, you pounce on zebras with a roar and then hear a crunching sound as you supposedly eat the zebra. Nothing is shown, and the zebra just fades away.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this software game makes learning about animals fun and interesting. It's a remake of two earlier games with the same name that were produced for the Leapster and the Nintendo DS, so if you own either of those versions, this is not that different. Parents of young children should gauge their preschooler's ability to play a maze game where they become a lion who pounces on and eats zebras. While no blood or gore is shown (the zebra just disappears), kids will hear the lion roar and then hear crunching sounds. This software works equally well in a school setting as in a home.

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What's it about?

ANIMAL GENIUS is a computer software game that makes learning science fun. The game's opening menu reveals five empty habitats: artic, woodlands, ocean, grasslands, and rainforest. Your goal is to play science-based games to earn five animals to populate each of these habitats.

Once you select a habitat, you're shown the animal that you can earn and the number of points needed to win the animal. Then it's off to play four games to earn the points. In the games, you sort animals by attributes, match animals to their traits, help an animal navigate a maze to eat (and perhaps avoid predators), and uncover hidden animals. Once you have enough points to win an animal, a fifth game appears in which you are asked 10 questions about the won animal.

Is it any good?

Animal Genius stands out from other children's games because it seamlessly integrates learning about 25 animals into captivating gameplay. Young children play the games because they're fun. As an added benefit, kids learn a tremendous amount about animals. And children as young as age 5 can enjoy this software because almost all of the game's instructions and reading have voice-overs. But, parents of young children may want to steer their preschoolers away from choosing to be the lion in the maze game, because when the lion pounces on a zebra, it roars and you hear it crunching the zebra's bones.

This software is a variation of Animal Genius originally released on the Leapster in 2006 and then reconfigured for the Nintendo DS in 2007. Both of those previous versions were excellent, but this format is even better because it plays on a bigger screen, which allows kids to see the animals' characteristics in greater detail. Animal Genius is educational software at its best.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about which habitat they like exploring the best. What is your favorite animal? Did you learn new facts about that animal? Which of the five games did you like best and why?

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac
  • Price: $19.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Scholastic
  • Release date: August 22, 2008
  • Genre: Educational
  • ESRB rating: E
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

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