When I saw the email asking for reviewers for Parent Bloggers Network members for JumpStart World, I was intrigued. When I opened the email, this phrase jumped out at me: “it’s like World of Warcraft for kids, and educational”! As soon as I saw that, I was hooked. My older daughters have been playing World of Warcraft with their dad, and they love moving themselves around through the world, and learning how to do all the different skills there (and they love playing hide-and-seek). So, we had high expectations when we received the game for review!
When you start JumpStart World, the adult needs to create an account first, and add the names of the children (up to 3 per grade) who will be playing. You set up each child with their name, birthday, and the holidays celebrated your family. When the kids start playing, they get to choose between several characters (MG loved the pink and whlte cat!). A dog explains the rules – you need to explore the world and earn parts of badges, and when you play games in the Math and Reading Arcades, you earn gems. Once you’ve accumulated enough gems, you can buy things to decorate your cabin, or make a myriad of other purchases. Additionally, there is a communicator that talks to you and tells you what to do and where to go to succeed in your mission.
MG had a bit of trouble adapting to moving her character around on the paths, but she figured it out pretty quickly (and in the process got to jump up a few hills!). She was disappointed at first that you couldn’t chat with other players (the other characters moving around are computer-generated). I’m happy with the lack of chat opportunities, it makes JumpStart World so much safer than WoW or other online games! After you’ve explored for a bit, your communicator tells you you need to start playing games in the Math or Reading Arcade, so you can’t avoid the education part too long
The reading games were fun, and started off at a fairly easy level so they weren’t intimidating. Once MG was hooked on a game, the difficulty level went up, and she stayed interested. There were many different games to choose from, too – enough that it would be difficult to get tired of them quickly! The math games were similar to the reading games, starting off at an easier level, then increasing in difficulty as the child won different levels.
In our house, you know that a game is fun when the kids start fighting over who can play next! We downloaded the Kindergarten version for LG, and MG is enjoying the refresher of the Second Grade version. Even if you know all the answers to the educational games, the games themselves are still a lot of fun. There are so many different games and missions, that it will take a very, very long time before they’ve tried all the different games! When you buy Jump Start World, it gives you two months worth of adventures, and you can buy a subscription (half the price of a WoW subscription) for further adventures. There are so many places to explore, my three testers haven’t been able to explore the many different areas away from the math and reading arcades, so they are begging for more and more chances to play! The game got a definite thumbs up from all 3 kids.
As the kids complete adventures, the skill level moves up, and the parents get notifications on the JumpStart World website’s parent section. The parent section allows you to add more children to a section, buy a subscription, send custom blimp messages to fly over JumpStart World while your child is playing, and even make custom prize certificates for your child to earn.
JumpStart World has some pretty high system requirements, so if you have a second computer for your kids, it may not be powerful enough. We had been running Windows 2000, and it required an update to Windows XP or Vista, and replacing the video card. It requires a 1Ghz or faster processor, and a 3D video card in addition to a broadband connection – we recommend checking the system requirements before purchasing. It does not have a Mac/Apple version, which was disappointing to this Mac user. (However, it meant that the girls couldn’t try to play JumpStart World on my MacBook…)
We had several technical difficulties, and having the JumpStart World technical support on Pacific Time while we’re on Eastern Time made it a bit trickier to fix the glitches that happen with any new game. Despite those glitches, and needing to update the computer, it was worth it to see how engaged they were by an educational game! This is good Edutainment!
You can download a free trial version at the Jump Start World website, to test the cool games and make sure your computer is compatible. A full version with 2 months of adventures is $19.99. They do give you a discount if you download the game rather than having it mailed to you. Instant gratification pays off at last!
The three child reviewers give JumpStart World 5 lights out of 5. My husband and I were the ones who had to deal with the technical glitches, so we knocked off one light. I’m sure that those glitches will be eliminated soon – there are some negatives to being an early user of any game or technology! So the Gaggle of Reviewers final score is 4/5 lights
Update 1/24/08: Check out our review update, and see what the Gaggle thinks 2 months later!
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