VTech InnoTab Software - Pixar Play

Game review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
VTech InnoTab Software - Pixar Play Game Poster Image
Movie-based games amuse; light on learning content, fun.

Parents say

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Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational value

Kids can learn to identify letters, letter sounds, and shapes. There are opportunities to practice word recognition and to label different sea creatures. They can read along with The Incredibles ebook, which may help with reading and reading comprehension. Though the learning elements aren't deep and sometimes are handled poorly because of the controls, they are age-appropriate. Players also will enjoy the opportunity to collect Pixar dolls and characters from the claw machine. Pixar Play may be light on learning, but Pixar fans should definitely be entertained by the gameplay.

Positive messages

Standing up for others or for a common good.

Positive role models & representations

Almost all main characters are supportive, helpful toward one another. A few "villains" (Dr. Pork Chop and Zurg) work against main characters.

Ease of play

Activities mostly easy to navigate with clear directions, but boring mini-games, glitchy controls frustrating.

Violence & scariness

Kids shoot lasers at Zurg as Buzz Lightyear, may get shot back. Nemo can be injured by falling rocks, other sea creatures, but there's no blood or death.

Language
Consumerism

Based on four popular Pixar movie franchises (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monster's University, and The Incredibles) and contains appearances by WALL-E's EVE.

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.

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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?

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