VTech InnoTab Software - Bubble Guppies

Game review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
VTech InnoTab Software - Bubble Guppies Game Poster Image
Wealth of pet-themed activities keep preschoolers engaged.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about pet care, work on reading and vocabulary, and practice colors, shapes, and numbers through a series of mini-games and activities with the Bubble Guppies. They'll count as they dole out dog food and water, and they'll match shapes and colors through a game of Fishketball with Bubble Puppy. There's even an ebook that highlights words as read and define some of the special words. With the Bubble Guppies, kids learn about pet ownership and care while also practicing early learning skills.

Positive Messages

Kids are encouraged to nurture and care for their pets. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Bubble Guppies characters help kids learn about pet care.

Ease of Play

Game instructions are clear, but some of the controls (dragging and flicking) may be tricky for younger kids. Most of the games use the stylus, but some use the motion sensor. The mini-games have two difficulty levels.

Violence & Scariness
Language
Consumerism

This is based on a popular television franchise with many products available.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that VTech InnoTab Software - Bubble Guppies encourages kids to nurture virtual (and, by proxy, live) pets. If your child is already clamoring for a pet, this will only make things worse. On the other hand, they're asked to think about the pet's needs and how to care for them. Some of the games ask kids to choose objects that match a pet, but the answers may not be obvious for all kids (is it common knowledge that horses play with balls?), and there's no explanation given for wrong answers. Editor's Note: This game's publisher, VTech, experienced a breach of parent and student data on November 14, 2015. Click here for more information.

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What's it about?

VTECH INNOTAB SOFTWARE - BUBBLE GUPPIES is all about the world of pet care. Kids can read the ebook about Gil and his friends as they learn how to care for a puppy. The story is read out loud page by page, and kids can tap on words to hear them. Words appear in color if they have a glossary entry for kids to visit. They can head to the \"Story\" area, where they choose from activities related to the grooming, housing, and feeding of pets. Each one has a quiz-type game wherein kids decide which objects are right for the pet in question. Players also can go \"shopping\" to collect a certain object with a shopping cart. In the end, they're invited to play a game or do an activity, such as decorating Bubble Puppy's doghouse.

Kids also can play the seven mini-games and activities separately through the Mini-Games menu. They will unlock objects for decorating Bubble Puppy's house and flashcards to help with reading practice. When kids are feeling creative, they can head into Picture Time, where they can take pictures with wigs and hats or with frames and characters.

Is it any good?

VTech InnoTab Software - Bubble Guppies features characters that young kids know and love in games they will enjoy. Preschoolers can't help but enjoy feeding Bubble Puppy (counting out pieces of food as they go), giving him a bath, and leading him through an obstacle course. The Bubblestorm quiz game requires some knowledge preschoolers may not have (where specific animals live, what they eat, and what they play with), and there's a missed opportunity to explain why an answer is incorrect. It also requires holding an object with the stylus and dragging, which may be tricky for younger kids. A game called Fishketball has similar control challenges, asking kids to "flick" a ball with the stylus. This requires not only fine motor skills but good timing. In the end, kids will be charmed by the characters and, with seven mini-games, should find plenty of replay value, even if they don't enjoy a few of the games. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Discuss the care of your own pet. What types of food, toys, and environments do they prefer?

  • Visit different pets (belonging to friends and family) to see how they're the same and different in terms of care.

  • Practice simple math skills such as counting and sorting by color or shape.

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