LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Pixar Pals

Game review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Pixar Pals Game Poster Image
Solve puzzles, help others with favorite Pixar friends.

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

Positive Messages

The game encourages kids to think about reusing and recycling materials. It also teaches about teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

WALL-E and EVE are role models for environmental friendliness, while Nemo and Dory model helping others. All of the characters are supportive and friendly and need to work together to open the initial doors into the games.

Ease of Play

The game uses the "D" pad to navigate and the A and B buttons to jump, grab items, etc. Although the characters will appeal to younger kids, this game is not aimed at preschoolers. Many will not have the motor skills to handle the platform levels, and/or the logic/reasoning skill needed to do the mini-games. The difficulty of the mini-games ramps up over time, but most provide helpful prompts for kids who are getting stuck.

Violence & Scariness

The characters are from prominent Disney-Pixar titles and have appeared in movies, games, toys, and a wide range of other products.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Pixar Pals is a cartridge-based game for the Leapster Explorer and LeapPad tablet. Kids will play educational mini-games with Buzz Lightyear and Woody from the Toy Story movies, WALL-E and EVE from WALL-E, and Nemo and Dory from Finding Nemo. The game is suggested for kids ages 5-9, but kids will do best if they are comfortable with a handheld gaming system because there are plenty of directions to follow in this title. Kids can earn "Micromods," which unlock special features or content in the game. These are downloaded through the LeapFrog Connect software.

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What's it about?

LEAPFROG EXPLORER LEARNING GAME: PIXAR PALS has three main areas involving three movies most kids will be familiar with. They feature: Buzz Lightyear and Woody from the Toy Story movies, WALL-E and EVE from WALL-E, and Nemo and Dory from Finding Nemo. Each area starts with the challenge to unlock two doors. The characters must navigate around, collect stars, and work together to get the key for each door. Once the doors are open, the corresponding mini-games are unlocked.

Most of the mini-games focus on sorting and collecting objects in various ways. One minute you're placing planets into their correct orbits, while the next you're collecting fish of the same type, and then you're determining which things to reuse and which to recycle. There is also one that requires kids to create a path for aliens to reach Buzz Lightyear using things like see-saws and springboards. The Toy Story area is a challenging platform-puzzling game. Fact-based educational tidbits are scattered throughout the game, and kids can unlock a variety of achievements. Completing tasks also unlocks puzzle pieces. When they're all unlocked, kids can assemble a jig saw puzzle for each of the three game areas.

Is it any good?

Pixar Pals is a great way to interact with a nice range of Pixar characters, each in an appropriate environment. Solving the initial maze-like levels the first time around is a fun challenge. You'll need both characters to work together. Unfortunately, you'll need to keep moving around those areas to get puzzle pieces after each game. Some kids may enjoy it, but for others it might become tedious.

The mini-games increase in difficulty which keeps them interesting, but they are all very different. The Toy Story area is full of platforming puzzles which can be hard for younger kids. Some kids will relish the variety, while others may prefer certain mini-games over others. Most kids will enjoy the additional challenge of unlocking all of the achievements for completing various goals. The jigsaw puzzles are a mixed bag. It can take a lot time (and patience) to earn enough pieces to be able to complete a jigsaw puzzle. However, it opens up a new activity just as you're wrapping up an old one. Overall this is a fun game with enough variety to appeal to a range of personalities and interests. This makes Pixar Pals a good title for families with more than one child.


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about recycling and environmental friendly behavior. Why should we recycle? What are other ways we can support a healthy planet?

  • They can also talk about helping others. Which characters in the game help others? How do they do so? What can we do to help others?

  • Do you like playing games on the LeapPad or Leapster Explorer? What makes a game fun?

Game details

  • Platforms: LeapFrog games
  • Price: $24.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: LeapFrog
  • Release date: September 28, 2011
  • Genre: Edutainment
  • ESRB rating: NR
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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