We were all very excited when the JumpStart Pet Rescuegame for the Wii arrived at our door not too long ago. See our family is big on using technology to enhance learning (and we’re big gaming fans too). Knowledge Adventure produces some of the best educational software we’ve come across. We’ve used their JumpStart learning software in the past and more recently we’ve been exploring the JumpStart 3D Virtual World, Knowledge Adventure’snew secure online environment for kids. I wrote a review on our experience with theJumpStart 3D Virtual World if you want to learn more.
Educational fun on the Wii
But now Knowledge Adventure has taken the next step. They’ve combined their understanding and knowledge of children’s educational software with the fun interactivity of the Wii gaming system.
JumpStart version of the Mii
The Wii game, JumpStart Pet Rescue, is modeled after Adventure Land in the JumpStart 3D Virtual World. Kids can customize their own jumpee, JumpStart’s version of a Mii, which represents the child throughout the game. And this character can be designed and changed and redesigned countless times, depending on the mood of your child. My oldest daughter (7) enjoyed this aspect of the game almost as much as the game itself. And there are three player slots so you can create three separate jumpees and games or in my case, each of my three kids has their own. This enables each child to progress through the game at their own pace, picking up where they left off the last time (though only one person can play at a time).
There are two ways you can experience the game:
My five year old son loves playing in Story Mode which works great for him since he’s very task oriented. Story Mode is set-up like a mission, which completely peaked my son’s interest. All the pet’s in JumpStart land have run away and my son needed to help find them. My son was told if he found all the sections of a story and then read it, one of the missing pets would return. And to find the missing story sections, he needed to complete some tasks. And so my son’s mission began.
JumpStart knows how to make learning not seem like learning. The tasks are a combination of fun experiences and learning games. In some cases my son just needed to follow a trail of letters from point A to B and other times he was asked to complete a game like matching or placing items in the correct order. Throughout the JumpStart world there are friendly creatures to greet, provide help and encouragement. When my son collected all the pages in one of his stories he was able to read it (or in his case, have it read to him) in the library. And to his great surprise and excitement one of the friends returned.
My seven year old daughter enjoyed explore mode. She still needed to find the missing animals, but unlike Story Mode, she was given free reign to explore all the environments in the JumpStartworld (in Story Mode, each world becomes available as a level is completed). My daughter enjoyed discovering hidden slides and games. But her favourite part was adopting a pet for her Jumpee. She would spend time playing with her new pet, teaching it tricks, feeding it and washing it. Even when my son was playing in Story Mode, he could still wander around and explore on his own (his favourite being the slides, which he would get his Jumpee to ride on over and over again).
As a task is completed, whether in story mode or explore mode, kids are awarded with praise as well as virtual prizes. Items like music can be played in the jukebox and letter objects can be used to decorate the JumpStart world.
Playing with the Wii-mote
My kids are pretty familiar with playing games on the Wii(I did say we are a gaming family didn’t I) therefore it didn’t take them long to get the feel of how to use the Wii-mote. The cursor on screen is nice and big, making it easier to see and move for young kids. There were some odd navigation placements where the large cursor caused a few problems (like when selecting a shampoo from the Pet Parlor, the arrows at the bottom of the shampoo menu were pretty close to the ‘Exit’ button. A few times the kids ended up exiting the screen when they were trying to select the next shampoo page). The game didn’t use the Wii-mote interactivity I like from other games. I sort of expected to be able to shake the remote around to put shampoo on the pet, but instead had to hit the ‘A’ button each time to get shampoo out. This didn’t take away from the game, but I don’t think it used the Wii to it’s full potential.
If your child hasn’t played with a Wiibefore, it does take some getting use to, especially how to point the Wii-mote at the sensor bar so it registers on the screen. My two older kids (5 & 7) were pros, but my youngest (2) had a lot of difficulty. I think this skill comes with practice.
A Wii game designed for the younger set
I mentioned earlier we’re big gaming fans, but most of the games we’ve encountered have been for older kids, either due to content or playability. The JumpStart Pet Rescue game for the Wii has been rated Early Childhood (EC) by the Entertainment Software Rating Board which means ‘it contains no material parents would find inappropriate’. Want more information on the rating system? And all three of my kids love this game (even my two year old who plays with her big sister’s help). This is the first game my kids ask to play when given the chance. My son said ‘I love this game almost as much as my Star Wars Lego Wii‘. And for a learning game I think that says a lot.
What the kids have to say
The JumpStart Pet RescueWiigame will in stores in September, just in time for back to school learning. You’ll be able to pick it up at Walmart, Staples, Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Fry’s and other retailers in US and Canada.
Availability:Walmart & Staples (September 1), Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Fry’s and other retailers (September 2)
Age: 3 to 6
Price: $39.99 US
WIN WIN WIN WIN
Knowledge Adventure is running a contest and giving away twenty-five (25) copies of the JumpStart Pet Rescue Wii game (open to US residents only). All you need to do is jump over to their blog and leave a comment telling them how you convinced your child to do something that was good for them, even if they didn’t want to.