A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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'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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- Platforms: LeapFrog games
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: problem solving
Creativity: imagination, making new creations
- 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, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Superheroes, Adventures, Fairy Tales, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: E
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.