A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while the game's box says it's appropriate for preschoolers, the mechanics are too hard for kids that young. This is a better match for kids ages 5 to 7. The game teaches skills such as spelling, parts of speech, and addition.
What's it about?
For young children, Leapfrog offers a version of CARS for its handheld educational gaming system. This installment keeps the driving simple by not letting cars go off the track, but spices up the challenge by introducing educational questions that kids answer by driving to the correct answer. Cars for the Leapster takes place after the story in the movie: Racecar Lightning McQueen has moved his headquarters to Radiator Springs, but the town still needs help getting noticed. Players enter races to earn tokens so they can buy neon for the town's signs.
Each of the four racetracks has its own obstacles and educational challenges, and there are two levels of difficulty. Kids choose a racetrack and character they want to be. In the Carburetor Cup race, kids are asked about the position of three geometric shapes ("Which shape is on the right?"); to answer, kids must bump a car showing the correct shape before they can zoom forward.
Is it any good?
The Parent Guide for the software suggests that the two levels of difficulty correspond to concepts for preschoolers and kindergarteners. But the skills required to race these cars are too hard for most preschoolers. Players must be able to use the multidirectional arrow pad to speed up, slow down, and change lanes, while also pushing the A and B buttons to perform other tasks that require timing, including jumping over oil slicks, inflating tires to drive over puddles, and blowing the horn to tip over tractors. Kids 5 to 7 are the ideal audience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about which race their kids like best. They can also discuss which character their kids like to be and why. Parents can help their kids start to think about the release of games based on movies. What makes them fun to play? What other Cars-related stuff have they seen around?
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