LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Transformers Rescue Bots: Race to the Rescue

Game review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Transformers Rescue Bots: Race to the Rescue Game Poster Image
Robot platformer demystifies natural disasters.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids will learn all about natural disasters and phenomena including lightning (and forest fires), rain/flooding, tectonic plates, volcanos, earthquakes, ash clouds, and tornados. They'll also get a sense of what first responders do and what tools they need for their jobs. The activities also help kids understand how to look at and understand a map. By helping with natural disasters through engaging gameplay, kids learn about them as well as what first responders do to help.

Positive Messages

The focus is on helping the people of Griffin Rock survive a series of natural disasters. Cody's family and the Rescue Bots work together to make it happen.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most of the characters are robots, but Cody (and his family, in passing) is passionate about helping others.

Ease of Play

This is a platform-style game with lots of jumping, dodging, and shooting. It may be tricky for kids with less-refined fine motor skills. This is compounded by controls that seem to have a mind of their own at times. However, help is readily available, and directions are clear.

Violence & Scariness

This is primarily robot-on-robot violence, but they shoot each other with water, fire, and other substances. It is mild cartoon violence (robots disappear when hit), but it is fairly constant. 

Language
Consumerism

This ties in to the Transformers Rescue Bots TV show, as well as the larger Transformers franchise.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Transformers Rescue Bots: Race to the Rescue is a departure from traditional LeapFrog fare. This one has a lot more video-gaming features. Although there are some phenomenal scenes that explain how certain natural disasters occur and plenty of useful information that crops up throughout, much of the game is spent in a platformer-style gameplay. Kids will be jumping, shooting, and dodging all while collecting important supplies for the people in need. 

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What's it about?

LEAPFROG EXPLORER LEARNING GAME: TRANSFORMERS RESCUE BOTS: RACE TO THE RESCUE is an adventure game that follows Cody Burn (and his family) and the Rescue Bots as they try to save the people of Griffin Rock from an evil plot. It has seven levels, each focusing on a different natural disaster that strikes the town. Kids will help rescue the people by moving them to safe locations, putting out fires, and eliminating hazardous situations. All the while Cody explains how the disaster impacts the area (for example, the earthquake epicenter is too close to the dam and may cause it to collapse). Each disaster includes an interactive animated sequence that clearly explains and demonstrates the conditions that cause it and what's happening that we don't see (such as ice particles rubbing together to cause lightning). Kids then help the characters suit up like first responders and choose the right equipment for the situation (such as a firefighter jacket, an ax, and lights for a forest fire).

Each level also includes two rounds of platformer play, wherein players battle Disaster bots, avoid pitfalls such as falling rocks, collect resources for the town, and eventually battle a \"boss.\" Once again, throughout the play, Cody explains how people need fresh water or other supplies and how the disaster is impacting the environment. Once unlocked, each of the explanations of the natural disasters can be replayed from the main menu.

Is it any good?

LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Transformers Rescue Bots: Race to the Rescue is a gem in so many ways. The platform-style gameplay is appealing to kids, especially those who have experience with other gaming systems. The educational material is well-woven into the story line. Indeed, it doesn't drill kids on what they've learned, but it does make the "instruction" so compelling that it's hard to forget. In one animation, kids are asked to grab an ice crystal and bump it against others to form lightning. During another exercise, kids remove blocks of trees to create a firebreak.

The one major drawback is the controls. Kids who aren't gamers may struggle with the platform-style gameplay. Jumping from platform to platform is tricky, and the controls occasionally seem to have a mind of their own. A game for a preschooler or kindergartner should be easier to navigate, so it may end up appealing more to older kids, especially after the first level or two.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Discuss natural disasters with your kids. Explain how your family is prepared in case you face something in your area. Reassure any concerns kids may have.

  • Talk about the use of water guns and similar weapons in the game. Are they justified in this situation? Why, or why not? Are there other options for the team?

  • Visit a fire or police station and learn how they keep your neighborhood safe.

Game details

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