VTech VSmile Motion Active Learning System

DESCRIPTION: A games console aimed at 3-7 year olds, which plugs into the television and combines wireless motion-activated play, web connectivity, and educational games. The system is available in either pink or blue. Includes console, wireless controller, wrist strap, ‘Action Mania’ learning game cartridge, AV cable, and instructions. Comes with 4 x AA batteries (for console) and 3 x AAA batteries (for controller).

ASSEMBLY: The system is very easy to set up. The console and wireless controller run off batteries which need to be inserted before use. The console is connected to the television via an AV cable, which simply plugs into free colour-coded input jacks on the television. Following this, it is simply a case of inserting the learning game cartridge, and following the options and instructions on screen.

GOOD POINTS: The V.Smile Motion console is certainly following the lead in ‘active’ play, and is great fun for even the youngest of players.

The console is simply yet effectively designed, with a strong durable exterior to withstand even the roughest of handling, and a selection of big easy-to-use buttons. The games cartridge slots securely into the front of the console in an upright position, and there is room to keep any additional cartridges in a flip-up storage area on the back of the system.

The console also has a number of useful connection points: a V.Link port for uploading game results via a USB or ‘V.Link’ device (sold separately), a microphone port for connecting up to a microphone (sold separately), and a wired controller port (with rubber door) for plugging in the original wired V.Smile controller. One of the great benefits of this system is that it is completely compatible for use with original V.Smile games, which enables you to upgrade to the Motion system without having to spend a small fortune on a new set of games. There are however also a wide range of games aimed at different age groups available specifically for the V.Smile Motion, meaning that its appeal will continue for several years.

The motion controller is just as sturdy, incorporating a joystick which has direction lights to indicate in which direction the joystick is being moved, and a large oversized orange ‘enter’ button for easy play, along with four smaller coloured buttons used to choose answers or perform certain actions depending on the game. The controller is wireless which allows more freedom of movement during play, and on the back of the controller is an attachment point for the wrist strap to be attached. Also on the back is a switch which allows either one or two players to be assigned to the controller, plus an option to turn the controller off when not in use to save battery life. Another great feature is that the controller accommodates both left-handed and right-handed players.

The console comes with one learning game cartridge, ‘Action Mania’, which will provide your child with plenty of fun educational play. The cartridge contains three separate games, Rapid Race, Ball Park, and Raise a Racket, all with good graphics and clear instructions which are easy for young children to follow. The games can be played either using the joystick or motion control (i.e. tiliting the whole game pad in the direction you want to go), and the player can choose from a male or female character to control.

Rapid Race has two options of play – ‘Streetrace’ and ‘Bobsled’. In the ‘Streetrace’ option, the player races along the road with the aim of collecting stars, avoiding objects and choosing the correct letters to complete given words. The latter option is similar, in which the player must sledge down a course and choose the correctly numbered flags to pass through.

Ball park consists of ‘Balance It’, in which the player rolls the ball in the correct direction to collect as many healthy (as opposed to unhealthy) foods as possible, and ‘Bouncing Ball’, where the player must tilt the controller from side to side to direct the balls to the correct coloured pile (this speeds up over time).

Raise a Racket has a choice of ‘Competition’, a straightforward game of tennis by flicking the remote back and forth to simulate a racket, and ‘Good Aim’, where the player must use the controller to hit a specified number of blue (but not red) balls into a net.

All the above games are timed to make them more competitive, and the console keeps records of personal high scores.

In our opinion, this is an excellent gift for a young child, packed full of fun educational learning appropriate to the age intended and in keeping with the recognised developmental key learning stages. The system promotes skills in basic maths, letter names and sounds, problem solving, memory, spelling, language and phonics, as well as encouraging discovery and exploration, and development of motor skills.

BAD POINTS: Battery consumption will be high with heavy use, although rechargeable batteries can be used to save on long-term cost.

Source by James Youell

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