Arnold Schwarzenegger’s move to obliterate school text books in favour of electronic reading devices highlights a new age of technology based learning for the younger generation. With an abundance of videogames available on Wii and Nintendo DS, many third-party developers have been quick to jump on the latest band-wagon with child development tools such as Hello Pocoyo and Junior Brain Trainer, both available on Nintendo DS, and there seems to be no lower age limit for an electronic education. If your three-year-old can hold and point a Stylus then apparently his/her electronic education knows no bounds! Junior Classic Games on Nintendo DS contains some easily recognisable puzzle games from an age when the humble book or board game was the norm. Containing thirty classic mini-games designed to test memory, problem solving, number and letter understanding and general observation, the electronic version certainly makes tidying-up after playtime a lot easier!
There are six categories of mini-game; music games, letter games, observation games, miscellaneous games, memory games and puzzle games. Each game is incorporated in an animal theme that is present throughout. Therefore, in a traditional game of Pairs entitled ‘Dual Frogs’, players search for a matching pair of frogs. Older children will recognise that not only are the pairs different colours but also different breeds. With an age range recommendation of four-to-nine years it soon becomes apparent how different ages of children will respond to the games and how they will benefit from it. In ‘Snakeology’, a game in which cards are turned over by tapping the Touching Screen with the Stylus in order to match a picture of a snake to a card on which its breed is written, younger children may not grasp the association though they will learn that the game needs to be completed through a process of elimination and also recognise that snakes come in a variety of shapes, colours and guises. There is an adjustable difficultly setting for different ages and parents will no doubt feel compelled to achieve those top scores when they cadge a sneaky turn. Electronic Theatre is prepared to hedge bets that most older players will be drawn in by a rudimentary pseudo Guitar Hero game called ‘Lemur Dance’ which requires more accuracy than most of the other mini-games. Similarly, younger children will appreciate this game because of the rhythms created. The mini-game requires the player to tap scrolling musical notes as they move down the Touch Screen and overlap an orange line. There is a rhythm gauge that will decrease if you miss a note or touch the note before or after the note crosses the line, in accordance with the modern convention in the Rhythm Action genre.
Junior Classic Games has a certain charm and may well keep a young child amused for half an hour or so however it is fairly basic and lacking in depth. As aforementioned it only offers a selection of thirty mini-games, as opposed to Junior Brain Trainer surpassing a hundred, and many of them are quite similar in nature. At a Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of £24.99 purchasers may view some of the alternative titles available as better value for money. Then again, if your child is animal mad it may be the more desirable option. The game does exhibit an array of cartoon animal noises and jungle music to accompany the games though disappointingly sound is not of the best quality.
On the whole the game does well to provide a comprehensive learning package due mainly to its six game categories. It can be observed that if played frequently and with guidance from parents it will enhance development in key areas such as accuracy, number learning, memory and problem solving. Whilst Electronic Theatre cannot foresee a class full of primary school children replacing their crayons with Stylus’ just yet, parents may well find this game an enjoyable and worthwhile activity to engage in with their child at home.