LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Adventure Sketchers

Common Sense Media says

Engaging platformer emphasizes creativity and adventure.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The "free the trapped citizens and defeat the bad guy" plot is mostly positive, but having to rescue the princess and the queen doesn't say much for girl power.

Positive role models

Good Fairy Earl is supportive and kind, but there aren't many other positive role models.

Ease of play

Simple controls and plenty of tutorials, but the device may make gameplay more challenging, especially when you're required to use virtual A and B buttons.

Violence & scariness

Enemies zap you, drop things on you, and shoot fire bolts at you. You can jump on them to make them disappear, and, with power-ups, you can shoot your own bolts back or turn them into ice cubes. 

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

No privacy or safety concerns.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Adventure Sketchers is a downloadable platform-style adventure title with a creative twist. In addition to battling silly enemies, rescuing townspeople, and saving the kingdom, kids can add to the story with their own drawings, customizations, and sound bytes. There's some cartoon violence, and characters can lose all their lives during play, but, other than forcing players to repeat parts of a level (which is frustrating)l, it's all very low-key. The game does get progressively harder, and parents should note that this will be much too difficult for young LeapFrog fans who don't have the fine motor skills to time their jumps appropriately. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading

Arts

  • drawing

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • problem solving

Creativity

  • making new creations
  • imagination

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Despite some challenging controls, kids will be drawn into the adventure. They'll be excited to see their own drawings and hear their own voices as part of the game.

Learning Approach

The learning isn't particularly deep, but it's done well. That said, diversity and creativity are hampered by the lack of the color brown, or even tan, in the drawing tools. Otherwise, kids will feel empowered by the addition of their own creative choices to the story and game.

Support

Kids can easily track their progress through a Kingdom map as well as a library of their drawings. LeapFrog has additional parent resources on its website. Parents can track learning through the LeapFrog Learning Path.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading

Arts

  • drawing

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • problem solving

Creativity

  • making new creations
  • imagination

Kids can learn to think creatively about problem solving, as well as how to draw simple pictures through guided activities. Although Adventure Sketchers plays more like a video game, it still engages kids' creativity by having them draw power-ups and defeat obstacles with a magic pen. They'll also find reinforcement for reading skills, as each chapter ends with a book page that's read aloud with highlighted words. This manages to teach kids without seeming like education software, which helps it reach even the most reluctant learner. Adventure Sketchers will draw in kids with its gameplay and keep them entertained for hours.

This Learning Rating review was written by Christy Matte

What's it about?

LEAPFROG EXPLORER LEARNING GAME: ADVENTURE SKETCHERS takes us into the world of the Nublins, whose kingdom has been overtaken by the Evil Wizard Grumpus. With the help of the Good Fairy Earl, players will design a hero and set forth to battle enemies. Along the way, they'll collect treasure, free the Nublins and their royal family, and eventually defeat the Grumpus. Players will use the Pen of Power from the Good Fairy to create power-ups, defeat obstacles, and make the journey their own. They'll also record sound effects and a special hero "catch phrase" that will be used throughout the game. Over time, the Book of Wonder is filled with the story of the hero's journey. There are 10 levels, including the tutorial, each with drawings, coins, and treasure. Some of the Pen of Power experiences walk kids through drawing a particular object, such as a bat, with lines to trace. Others give them the freedom to draw whatever they'd like.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

With an emphasis on creativity and adventure over more traditional educational skill building, LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Adventure Sketchers feels more like a video game than previous LeapFrog titles. For kids clamoring for games that don't feel like part of a lesson plan, this is a great addition to the LeapFrog library. Kids will enjoy drawing or decorating their own heroes, recording their own sounds (be prepared, parents!), and exploring with a sense of freedom.

The story is fluff, but who cares? If the game falters at all, it's in the controls, especially in the Pen of Power area. In addition to lacking the color brown (useful for skin, hair, tree trunks, and a variety of other things), the drawing tools can be frustrating to use with any accuracy. Similar challenges arise as gameplay gets harder and jumps need more precision. But the game is fun and and unique, so know your child. If they'll be easily frustrated by a drawing that doesn't look "just so" or by having to replay certain areas again and again, pass on this one. Otherwise, don't be surprised if you have to drag them away from this creative adventure.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about violence such as the kind found in Adventure Sketchers. Could you make this sort of game without any battle scenes? Does the fighting make the game more fun? Why, or why not?

  • Set up a creation station with plenty of blank paper, markers, and crayons, and challenge kids to solve life situations with their own drawings. What would a dish-washing robot look like? What about a toothbrush that brushes for you?

Game details

Platforms:LeapPad Explorer, LeapPad Ultra, LeapPad2, Leapster Explorer, LeapsterGS
Price:$24.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Available online?Not available online
Developer:LeapFrog
Release date:July 7, 2014
Genre:Adventure
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies, Superheroes, Adventures, Fairy tales, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires

This review of LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Adventure Sketchers was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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