LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Octonauts

Game review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Octonauts Game Poster Image
Mild confusion of facts, fiction won't sink ocean adventure.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn to identify ocean creatures through auditory and visual clues. They also can discover what types of creatures live in the different zones of the ocean and how they use camouflage or other protection tactics. They'll practice investigative techniques and using clues to find a solution. Parents may need to help kids differentiate between the fanciful and the real in this game, but otherwise there's plenty to learn about the creatures of the deep. Octonauts provides a great introduction to the sea and the creatures that live under the waves.

Positive Messages

Themes of friendship, helpfulness, caring, patience. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

All characters are kind, helpful. They work together as a team, support each other.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, easy to learn.

Violence & Scariness
Language
Consumerism

Characters are from a popular book, television franchise. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Octonauts is a preschool marine-science game based on the popular kids' television show Octonauts and a series of books as well. The game doesn't require any reading but does include some challenging marine terminology such as "hard carapace," "bioluminescent glow," and "pectoral fin." So, though the activities are accessible to really young kids, the content will go over the heads of many of them. Older kids are likely to continue to enjoy the activities and content, even if they weren't already fans of the show. 

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What's it about?

LEAPFROG EXPLORER LEARNING GAME: OCTONAUTS is an adventure experience set in the ocean. Kids join the Octonauts, a team of eight diverse creatures, as they fulfill their ocean-based mission to "Explore. Rescue. Protect."  The learning content explores the ocean sunlight, twilight, and midnight zones. Along the way, players will navigate the Gup-B submersible boat using the stylus or tilting their device to go up and down. Players also will find and solve the mystery of how some marine animals were injured thanks to a "Creature Report," wherein they answer a series of multiple choice questions based on information they've learned along the way. Once kids have played through a mission in each zone, they unlock the separate mini-games/activities for free play. They also can continue to collect all the creatures in their encyclopedias.

Is it any good?

LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Octonauts is a clever integration of learning and gaming. It's clever enough that you may not be convinced that the information is factual. There is, in fact, a Cookiecutter Shark, by way of example, but it's unlikely that an accordion would really serve as a useful way to distract an orca. This melding of fanciful objects and creatures with the real deal may be confusing for kids, as it's not always clear what's fact and what's fiction. If you can push that aside, however, the activities are cute and fun but repetitive (a trait that rarely bothers preschoolers), and there's quite a bit of information packed in there, especially when you consider the audience. Moreover, there are some wonderful lessons about teamwork, nurturing behavior, and even playing detective. It also does a great job of incorporating visual, kinesthetic, cerebral, and auditory learning activities into a seamless learning experience that gets progressively more challenging (for example, the multiple choice options expand) as you play. Two fins up for a title that's a bit out of the norm but seems to work quite well that way.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about real vs. pretend. What are some parts of the game that tell about real things? What are some parts that are pretend? How can we tell the difference? How can we find out if something is real?

  • Talk about marine life. What are the different zones in the ocean? What are some creatures that live in each one? Why do you think they live in that region rather than one of the others?

Game details

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