Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Product Review: Vtech V-Motion Gaming System

In general, I'm skeptical of electronic toys and playthings that purport themselves to be "educational." Still, I can be convinced of a battery-operated toy's value. Parent Bloggers Network hooked me up with a Leapfrog Tag reader and books, and I was so impressed I actually purchased additional books for Z.

So when the opportunity came to check out the Vtech V-Motion Active Learning System (aka "The Wii for preschoolers"), I was all over it like a DDR board.

Set up was pretty straightforward. The system has child-friendly buttons and the controller is appropriately chunky. Z couldn't wait to play the included Action Mania cartridge (can you say "Wii Sports"?), but she had a lot of difficulty mastering the games. So much trouble, in fact, that she'd get frustrated and tearfully beg us to take over. And trust me, this is no Wii. I didn't want to take the controls! The graphics are very Super Nintendo, and while the driving game is probably the best of the bunch, even it only involves heading down a down a road (you can't crash) and aiming for extra points.

But there's educational value, right? Um, sort of. Perhaps the challenges get more challenging with higher levels, but Z's abysmal gaming skills had her stuck matching letters and colors, something she's far beyond intellectually.

I was surprised to see an electronic gaming system that didn't come with a power cord, but because my daughter showed so little interest in playing with the system, we didn't run down the batteries.

The Vtech V-Motion system retails for $69.99 and includes one wireless controller and a V.Link plugin for accessing online games and comparing your rankings with others, something we didn't try.