Reader Rabbit Kindergarten (Wii)
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Reader Rabbit Kindergarten is an adventure game featuring animation-like graphics and a slew of educational mini-games. Despite the word "reader" being in the name of the hero, the game is about much more than just reading -- it also reinforces basic math skills, memory and rhythm skills, rhyming, and more. While the game and its contents are appropriate for kids as young as preschool-age, those youngest players may not have the manual dexterity and precision needed for some of the mini-games. This will vary from child to child, of course, but be aware that young kids may need some assistance. It might also help to reduce the Wii remote's sensitivity through your console's main "Wii Options" menu.
What's it about?
In READER RABBIT KINDERGARTEN (Wii), Reader and his lion pal, Sam, are surprised one day while flying through the sky in their airborne boat. The ship is suddenly caught in bubble wrap and the heroes find themselves bouncing on the surface of a balloon world. A friendly turtle informs them that their ship was wrapped for Bubble World's safety, since it has pointy parts, and is being kept inside a castle. But in order to get in and retrieve their ship, Reader and Sam will have to wake the dozing bull that guards the palace doors. The two travel around Bubble World collecting musical instruments to form a band and wake the bull. To earn the instruments, they have to complete educational mini-games. They'll slam-dunk basketballs with rhyming words on them, arrange cocoons into patterns in order to hatch butterflies, use basic addition to add balloons to the wings of a plane and even them out, and more.
Is it any good?
Reader Rabbit Kindergarten can definitely be lauded for the wonderful educational content of its mini-games, but what's even more pleasantly surprising is how fun and engaging its story is. There are plenty of jokes and a number of catchy songs, and the whole game -- both the cinematic story sequences and the playable parts -- look like old-school cartoon animation. It can give little kids a feeling more like they're interacting with a TV show than playing a video game.
The multiple difficulty levels are great for allowing kids to grow with the game, and when a child is doing well the game will ramp up the challenge on its own. However, very young players, especially preschoolers and even many in the target kindergarten audience, may have difficulty with the controls (as they may with almost any Wii game that involves pointing the remote, as opposed to, say, shaking it). The point-and-click control method is great for younger kids on a touchscreen (as it is in the DS version of this very game), but aiming across space at a moving target requires an entirely different level of dexterity and understanding. Be prepared to assist little ones when necessary.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the educational content in the game. Ask kids if the lessons learned here match what they're learning in school. Ask them when and how they think they could apply such knowledge outside of the classroom.
Families can also discuss how to make the best use of an educational video game like this. How often should children be allowed to play educational games? Should you restrict playing time in a fashion similar to entertainment-only games?