A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while this gaming system is touted as encouraging kids to exercise, only two of the seven activities require the child to pedal. However, all the games are played while sitting on the bike and they are fun and age-appropriate. Kids can pedal even when the game is turned off. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that parents monitor and limit children to one to two hours of screen time a day.
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What's it about?
SMART CYCLE aims to get kids moving by having them pedal a stationary bike as part of a video gaming experience. The pint-sized bike, which plugs into the A/V jacks of a television, has an adjustable seat and is just the right size for most children ages 3-6. The gaming system inside the bike runs on 4 D batteries; the software is housed in a key-shaped game cartridge that plugs into the side of the bike. The image on the screen looks like what you would see if you were riding down a road, and it moves forward and backward corresponding to your pedaling.
While pedaling to your first game, you're asked to collect letters, numbers, or shapes by steering toward them and running them over. Games include finding letters in a barn, helping a frog to flick out his tongue to collect letter bugs, and matching shapes underwater by popping bubbles. There's also a race that requires you to pedal as fast as you can to cross the finish line. Of seven activities, only two require you to pedal -- the rest use the joystick.
Is it any good?
While all these activities are fun and age-appropriate, kids would benefit from more pedaling as they play. Parents need to know that it takes 30 to 45 minutes to assemble the bike, and it uses up batteries fairly quickly. Also, while the educational games offer levels, the games don't save your work so kids must start at level one every time they play.
Parents can breathe new life into this system by buying additional game cartridges for $20 each. For ages 3-5, the choices are Discover the Dinosaurs, Dora the Explorer Friendship Adventure, and Diego's Animal Rescue. For ages 4-6, the selection includes SpongeBob SquarePants Ocean Adventure, Barbie Fairytopia, and Hot Wheels.