“ Manufacturer: Knowledge & Adventure / Type: Nintendo DS Game „
Jump Start is a line of games, mostly for the PC designed to make learning fun. The company is owned by Knowledge Adventure, who also produce the Mathblaster titles, and I have to be one of their biggest fans. I have several software titles and purchased a lifetime membership for my children to their online site. I love this company because they create wonderful games that my children really want to play that are also highly educational. When I first learned they were making games for the DS, I was desperate to get one. I even phoned the company, but the rep was not certain if the game would work in the UK and the price near £50 thanks to a ridiculous shipping charge. Had he been certain, I likely would have saved up and bought it anyway, but in fact the fellow wasn't very encouraging. He talked to me about the other titles we owned and said in all honesty, I already owned all the best titles for my sons age group - he wouldn't recommend buying anything else.
Browsing Amazon recently though, I noticed this for sale for a much more reasonable £4.99 + £2.03 for postage from the USA. I had learned that DS games are region free so I knew by now that it would work. I thought to snap both titles up, but being a bit short I decided to buy one at a time. I won't be buying the second game after having played this.
Jump Start programmes usually have very good graphics. Most of the newer ones are in a three dimensional cgi format. Of course if you happen to pick up one of the older titles from the early 1990's the graphics are poorer, but overall Jump Start has always produced games with good up to date graphics. This game is only 2 years old, so I expected reasonably modern graphics. I was rather disappointed that the graphics on this game just do not compare with their other titles. I can only rate the graphics on this game as poor, but my youngest loves Jump Start and so was still anxious to give this a try.
This game is recommended for ages 5 -8. My youngest is only 4, but he does play a number of other games with a higher age rating and I don't mind sitting with him and helping him with a harder game. I honestly did not think this game would have a lot of appeal to my 7 year old, but I did feel with this age range, at least one of them would get some use from it, and I don't really mind buying a good game at a good price and having to put it away for awhile while a child grows into it. Unfortunately, I don't think my son will grow into this. The graphics and characters in this game that would best suit a 2 -3 year old, but there simply is not enough with the cartoon character to interest a very young child. I do think it The educational exercises would best suit ages 5 -7. The two aspects combined just do not work.
You start the game by creating a profile. you can choose between a very babyish looking boy or girl, with terrible clothes and if you wish an animal shaped hat. My son took the elephant had, but it was terrible and he thought the character looked like one for a baby game. Then you see a choppy animation of Frankie - the Jumps Start mascot and a well known character to my son, and your character, making an emergency landing on Lost Island. After this, my two sons played about with the game for awhile, attempting to reach a distant volcano before announcing that they couldn't get off "The stupid island". You need to collect helium gas to leave the island - but once you get enough to leave - the game is over. You never get to go anywhere exciting.
You collect gas by playing one of five games. Just getting to the games is challenging as the controls are absolutely terrible. Your character takes awkward baby steps and struggles to jump up a tiny step. We did try this with DSI and Nintendo 3ds, with equally poor results for both. The first is water ski and this one looked slightly promising for my youngest. The graphics are terrible, the controls are poor, but at least the subject looked good. You drive a water ski through banners with the correct answer. At the lowest levels, this focuses on letter and number recognition, moving up through more complex addition and subtraction. The problem is - he doesn't like it and doesn't want to play. After this we tried a game called addingtons. You have 4 empty slots and a 5th slot with a number goal. the idea is to rescue as many blob creatures as possible by filling the empty slots with numbers that will add up to the goal number before the creatures are sucked into a vortex or explode. This goes from very simple addition to more complex addition involving negative numbers. The next game was a word building exercise. You get a several tiles with letters, not unlike scrabble and try to make words. If you need help it will highlight tiles for a simple three letter word, so this is playable even by children with very little reading or spelling ability. There are no characters in this game, just a brown screen with some letter tiles. The final game was far and away the best in my opinion, although the children don't like this one either. It is a simple brown grid and you make a pattern by following the clues above each row. I like this as it does involve logic, and is something different from the standard maths and reading exercises - so I do feel this has some educational value.
I feel that the games do offer some educational material, and I do think the children could learn something by playing them. The problem is , they are so dull, that this is a game my children will never pick up again of their own free will. I might make some use of this programme, offering my oldest son a choice a period of time with the logic puzzle and doing maths puzzles in place of worksheets. I do see the game with negative numbers as having some value. I completed this game start to finish in roughly 30 minutes and expect my son could do the same in only slightly more time - as I am quicker at making words as an old Scrabble fan. For 30 minutes of educational content this was not worth the price I paid, but as a home educator, I may get a tiny bit of use from this - if I can't sell it on ebay or to Cex. For an average family, where children attend school and parents do not assign schoolwork, I honestly feel most would be better off throwing this in the bin, then keeping it to take up space. Keep in mind that this was bought for a child who is familiar with and likes the ordinary Jump start characters - and he still has no use for the game.
I hate giving anything Jump Start such a low rating. This is a company I would love to see expand in the UK, and as a rule, they produce wonderful products. But I really can not recommend this game to anyone. Yes, the children might learn something from this, but you will most likely have to force them to play. The whole idea of Jump Start was that the children usually enjoy playing the games, and learn so much faster while having fun. You can get much better educational games free online, and even if this game were offered free of charge, I can't really see it being worth the bother.