A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Didj game is based on the Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie. This game is about fighting. If you want to avoid violence in video games, don't choose this one, because you play as Anakan or Obi-Wan, wielding a lightsaber to defeat clones. This video game is unique because in addition to playing a side-scrolling game, kids will also do math problems with the curriculum specifically selected by parents. Unfortunately, this game is far too short for the price, and its save points are too sparsely placed.
What's it about?
On the surface, LeapFrog has a great idea for its new Didj handheld gaming device. Mix the Star Wars universe, which every kid loves, with math puzzles, which only some kids love, to get a learning experience that most kids will enjoy. In DIDJ STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, the story is somewhat like that in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated movie: Anakan and Obi-Wan try to defeat Clones and Separatists who have developed a fearsome droid called Ultra Droideka.
Essentially, this 2D sidescroller takes you through 12 levels in four environments. After you use two buttons and a D-pad for some gameplay, you're stopped to solve some basic math problems in order to progress. The math problems are fun and focus on simple geometry, fractions, and place values concepts. By connecting the Didj online, parents can choose what part of the math curriculum the game will feature.
Is it any good?
Unfortunately, there just not enough there: the game's way too short, the presentation isn't polished, and the save points are set too far apart. When you boot up the game, you get a few screens and minimal plot points, and no opening movie to explain what's going on. While the Star Wars music is great and the backgrounds are generally lavishly detailed, the characters are small, the kind seen in side-scrolling games 10 years ago. You'll slash, duck, and climb through the levels, and even pilot a Jedi Starfighter through an asteroid field.
Yes, the math problems are presented in an engaging format and appear periodically within the game. And yes, though the game is short, there is a replayability element. If you go back and replay some tasks, you'll earn badges. These badges translate to Bitz points, the faux currency which allows you to trade on the Didj web site (Leapfrog Connect) for sounds and music to customize your game. Too bad you can't exchange them for an extra level or two. The amount of gameplay, although educational, is less than the amount you get in a $10 downloadable game and not as challenging. While the game shows some promise for the Didj, there really needs to be a lot more play and a lot more learning.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what math skills the game imparts and whether it added or took away from the gameplay. Do Star Wars characters need to use math in their daily heroic activities? What kind of math went into designing the lightsaber? How would you have designed it better?
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