What It IsMobiGo is the latest handheld system that combines games targeted to preschoolers ages 3 and up with learning activities. If you've not yet invested in this kind of toy for your kids, this may be a good time to jump in. The unit is ergonomically designed, easy for kids to use, and such features as a touch screen and slide that reveals a full QWERTY keyboard mimic adult electronics kids see their parents "playing" with.
The touch-control varies by application and includes tap, flick, pat, and drag-and-drop gestures that are increasingly familiar on adult devices. The button controllers are easy for small fingers to manipulate. In addition, there are headphone and AC adapter jacks and volume control. Games are controlled either with the keyboard or the touchscreen, and kids can connect to the internet for online features, including posting scores and downloading games—some of which will be available at no cost.
The unit comes with the Touch and Learn Game Pack, so it's ready to play with right out of the box. Additionally, 11 game cartridge titles will be available featuring favorite kids' characters, including Ben 10, Disney Fairies, Dora the Explorer, Mr. Men & Little Miss, Shrek, Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 3, Disney/Pixar's Cars, Disney Princesses, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, NASCAR, and Super Hero Squad. Each game cartridge is sold separately for $19.99.
The games on the included cartridge use standard video game play patterns to help kids identify letters and numbers and engage in rudimentary logic puzzles. There are two levels—easy and difficult, which are sufficiently different to add value to the games.
It was surprising, however, that in the included cartridge a basic spelling game used a first-person shooter format to spell simple words. Nothing is destroyed or hurt in the shooting, but one questions whether or not this is truly necessary.
VTECH also promotes the various different skills the games teach, but those are not called out specifically on the packages of the additional cartridges. For example, the Ben-10 games list some disciplines but doesn't relate them to the games, making it seem more like the learning is used to promote a fun game.
That said, the games are fun, and the unit is very well designed. It feels good in the hand and has nice details like non-slip sides that make it very workable for small hands. The learning games won't replace time in the classroom, but they are fun ways to drill basic skills.
The challenge with these is always for parents to evaluate the investment required and the different formats to choose from. If you are considering this type of toy for your kids, this might be a very good choice, given the variety of popular game titles, the variety within each cartridge and the advanced design and technology.
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