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 educational game makes its lessons not only fun, but enticing, by layering them into action-based, cartoon-inspired gameplay. Not all of the mini-games are purely curriculum-based -- some are more reminiscent of what you'd find in a mainstream, just-for-fun video game; but the inclusion of those un-school-like levels only serves to keep kids interested in the game as a whole. The educational games are geared at 5- to 9-year-olds.
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What's it about?
In JUMPSTART: ESCAPE FROM ADVENTURE ISLAND, your dirigible-type airship crash lands on a whimsical, fantasy island, and you must play mini-games to earn sand dollars and buy enough helium tanks to get your zeppelin back up in the air. A few of the mini-games are mere dexterity challenges (rolling an egg into a nest, hopping onto platforms, and avoiding meanie creatures), but most are outwardly educational, based on math and reading curricula for five- to nine-year-olds. Players may need to ride a manta ray through gates marked with the right answers to math problems or roll in a giant hamster ball through banners marked with correctly-spelled words. Another mini game involves choosing clothes for a fashion show, where scores are based on how well the chosen outfit matches the requested criteria (such as \"striped cold-weather outfit\").
Is it any good?
The educational value of JumpStart: Escape from Adventure Island is clear from the first few moments of the game. And the lessons are incorporated very nicely into action-based game formats. Beyond all the learning, though, the game is also fun. It has a colorful look and playful design that should be appealing to kids across the entire five-to-nine age spectrum. And smartly, there's a lot here that is not purely educational -- including the ability to build up a wardrobe and continually swap costumes, and a customizable treehouse -- which goes a long way toward making sure the game doesn't feel like a school assignment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about which of the mini-games kids like best. Do they prefer the game levels that are more traditionally video-game-like? Or do they enjoy the ones that present them with learning-based challenges?
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