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Last Christmas my daughter received a Vtech Vsmile console from her Grandma along with a couple of games. After a few months of playing the same games my daughter was becoming a little bored and wasn't asking to play on the console as much so I decided to pick up a new game when I was next out shopping. However, recently we went to a large car boot sale and on one of the stalls there were a couple of vsmile games in rather bashed packaging and the seller wanted just 50 pence for each game. I snapped them up and thought that even if they didn't work for that price I couldn't complain! The game I am reviewing today is VTech V.Smile Learning Game: Shrek the Third: Arthur's School Day Adventure.
The game comes in a sealed plastic case and features the characters from Shrek The Third on the cover - Shrek, Princess Fiona, Donkey, Puss In Boots and Arthur. It tells us that by playing this game the child will learn spelling, classification, vocabulary categorisation, shapes and number order. In order to get the game out of the packaging you will need some scissors as it is almost impossible to open it without! It is a real shame that the boxes have to be cut open as it would be nice to be able to keep the game inside with the instructions though there is space in the VSmile machine to store your games.
On the game you will find two main modes of play, the learning zone and the learning adventure and in each mode there are various games and challenges for the child to choose.
Learning zone -
* Gingeys stack up - help gingey to land on the correct number - odds and evens, lower and upper case letters. Gingey will fly across the top of the screen hanging onto a balloon which contains the letter or number inside. When Gingey is above the correct space you pop the balloon to make him fall. The gingerbread men all stack on top of eachother when they fall in the correct pile. This is a great game for children to learn the difference between odd and even numbers and that is more tricky than the other option of the lower and upper case letters.
* Pack It up - This is a puzzle game in which you have to match items up to shapes and there are various different scenes in this game. One is the kitchen where you will see a table with various items on such as a fish, milk, strawberry and other things and at the side there are further items in which you are required to put on the table and into the shapes available. This encourages problem solving as the child has to match the shapes up. This can be a little tricky for young ones as they have to find the correct item to match up and then make sure it fits into the correct place on the table.
* This game will bring up a silhouette of a picture that the child has to guess what the item is - for example a pineapple - and they have to match the shape to the correct picture from a choice of 4. The pictures get progressively harder and range from larger items such as muffins to smaller ones such as a ring.
* Spirit Squad - Here you find a group of cheerleaders who will light up and make a tone and you have to repeat the sequence. This game really tests the childs memory and as the levels progress there are more to remember as the sequences get harder.
Learning Adventure - This is a sequence of four games in which Shrek is looking for Arthur.
* Lost In The Catacombs - Shrek and Arthur are on a trail inside a castle and it involves a lot of jumping over obstacles and collecting hearts and shields. This is good for the child to follow paths to find the correct way, learn how to beat obstacles. As the game progresses it involves sums to get through gates so the child needs to work out the answers to the sums and find the correct gates.
* Mountain Run - this is pretty much the same as the previous game but on a mountain side. Again the child needs to jump over obstacles and collect hearts. In this game Shrek meets a pirate and has to battle in order to get past him, this is done by following a sequence of arrows on screen to make either Shrek, Puss or Donkey defeat the pirate. There is more problem solving in this game, Shrek has to bounce on rocks in order to break them to progress for example.
* Arthurs Hide And Seek - in this game you are required to pick up items from the street and return them to the correct shop. For example a rose goes to the flower shop. You are faced with obstacles such as rolling barrels that you need to jump over. This is good for children to learn what items come from which kind of shop. One of the items was a clam which was something my daughter had never heard of so she learnt that clams come from fish shops.
* Shrek Skate - this game features Shrek on a skateboard and you will see a picture along with a word at the top of the screen showing the letters you need to collect in order to spell the words. Obstacles such as people, rocks and puddles feature in this game so you need to jump over them so you don't lose your lives!
OPTIONS - music on/off, life normal/umlimited and tutorial on/off.
BONUS - This is a photo gallery and here you will find any pictures that you have collected during the games so this makes an extra incentive to play the games so the child can see the photo album of everything that they have collected.
Also in the bonus section you will find Donkey Talk which is a list of words that feature throughout the games. The word and picture of the item is shown to the child and donkey will say the word. This helps the child to learn new words and repeat them after Donkey has said them.
The game is aimed at children aged four to six years, and though my daughter is only three and a half she is still able to play quite a few of the games on here.
I think this is a really good game and my daughter has really enjoyed playing on it even though she isn't really a fan of Shrek in particular. The controls of the game are really easy to use, and the controller is basically a pad (such as you had on a Super Nintendo) and has a large joystick on the left hand side, a large button on the right and four small coloured buttons in the centre. To move the characters around you simply move the joystick and the big button makes them jump. This gives children a good start for learning how to use controllers for other kinds of computer games which I am sure most children will do at some point!
Though the game is great fun for children, it is essentially a learning game and teaches core curriculum for even the youngest learners. The various games teach spelling, counting, patterns, logic, and problem solving. During the time my daughter has been playing with the game she has learnt new words, can manage a couple of the very simple sums and the problem solving aspects of the longer games. Some parts of the games are too hard for my daughter, but she will still give it a go and I know that as she gets older and learns more she will be able to complete them with ease.
During the learning adventure games, Shrek will lose a life if he gets hit by various moving objects and at first my daughter had absolutely no concept of this, but by playing more and watching me show her on it she now realises she has to dodge these objects and gets a bit mad if she gets hit and loses a life!! I think that shows how quick children can learn by playing on something like this, and though I don't allow her to play on this as much as she would maybe like I do think it is important to have learning like this in such a fun way.
All in all I think this is a really good game, and I can't believe it cost me just 50 pence which is maybe one of the best bargains I have ever had. I asked my little girl what she thinks of the game and she just said it is great!
VTech V.Smile Learning Game: Shrek the Third: Arthur's School Day Adventure can be found on Amazon for £19.00.
Thank you for reading my review.