A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that VTech InnoTab Software - Pixar Play is a collection of mini-games and activities based on four popular Pixar movies (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monster's University, and The Incredibles). Some of the activities are educational, such as matching shapes, learning about sea creatures, and recognizing letter sounds. Others are merely for fun. Though the educational content skews into the preschool and kindergarten skill set, slightly older kids will still enjoy creating their own monsters, playing a virtual "claw game," and fighting off Zurg. The cartridge does require a basic set of fine motor skills to use a stylus quickly and efficiently, so some younger kids may get frustrated. Parents may find themselves asked to purchase merchandise with various characters from the game. 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.
What's it about?
VTECH INNOTAB SOFTWARE - PIXAR PLAY is a collection of Pixar-related games and activities. The main menu starts us out in a shop displaying posters from Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Monster's University. The Incredibles storybook rounds out the display. Toy Story has two educational games, both of which focus on letter sounds and early literacy. The Finding Nemo poster brings a shape-matching memory game and a spelling game. The Monster's University area is more about creativity than concrete skill building, while The Incredibles storybook helps kids with reading and word comprehension. Each game has an easy and a difficult level, and kids can win coins that allow them to play the claw machine, where they can win a variety of Pixar character toys. Collecting all the toys unlocks a mystery mini-game.
Is it any good?
VTech InnoTab Software - Pixar Play has a lot going for it, including some of the most beloved Pixar characters, a claw game, and collectible toys. Kids are bound to find something they love and, depending on their ages and skills, may learn something along the way. "Woody to the Rescue" stands out for educational content and freedom to explore gameplay, as does the "Create a Monster" activity for creativity. The collection has some shaky points, though, including the fight scene with Zurg where kids have to tap on a letter that keeps moving from bubble to bubble at a fairly good clip. If the device doesn't register the tap the first time around (which happens frequently), the letter will move before you get to it again. Frustrating. "Dory's Memory Challenge" requires kids both to quickly find a shape formed by bubble fish among other shapes and then remember which rock they've hidden behind. If you're just learning shapes, everything moves a little too fast. The harder level adds in the written name of the shape to identify and more than one set of correct bubble fish.
The whole thing is hit or miss as to whether an activity is fun and has any real educational value. Chances are that most kids will find a couple of activities they really enjoy and play them over and over, making this a fine option for entertaining little Pixar fans but not the best for learning.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about friendship. What are some examples of good friends in the game? Are there examples of people not being good friends? What makes a good friend to you?
Talk about conflict resolution. Why do you think Zurg and Buzz Lightyear are enemies? What might have happened to make this so? What could they do to make up with each other?
- Platforms: InnoTab, InnoTab 2
- Subjects: Language & Reading: letter or word recognition, phonics, reading comprehension
- Skills: Creativity: making new creations
- Price: $24.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: VTech Electronics
- Release date: September 1, 2014
- Genre: Edutainment
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Ocean creatures, Space and aliens
- ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
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