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Animal Genius (DS)
SCREENSHOTS

Animal Genius (DS)

10/12/2007

29.99

By combining wacky animal facts, entertaining fast-paced animal games, and photo-realistic graphics, this Nintendo DS title makes learning about animals fun for kids.
The Bottom Line
A fun and educational game on the DS. Great for animal lovers!

Overview

Kids who love wild animals will have a heyday with the new Animal Genius game for the Nintendo DS. And parents will be excited as well, because this is one of the few truly educational titles for kids on the Nintendo DS.

Animal Genius combines wacky animal facts, entertaining fast-paced animal games, and photo-realistic graphics to make this into an outstanding video game for kids. Plus all directions, words, and identifications have voiceovers, so young kids who aren't yet reading can play. It is very rare to find a Nintendo DS game that talks to you.

The game is themed around earning 25 animals -- five animals to place in each of five habitats. Kids select the rainforest, arctic, woodlands, ocean, or grasslands; and once there, the game offers them an animal to earn. Kids earn the animals by playing games to get points, with animals varying in cost from 25 up to 125 points.

How To Play

Kids gain the points by repeatedly playing four fun games in any order they wish. In the game called "Scratch & See," kids see a blank gray screen. By moving the DS stylus back and forth across the screen, kids "scratch" away part of the gray mask covering an animal. Since kids will only see part of the animal, they must deduce which animal they are viewing from the traits they can see. The game then asks them to select the correct animal from a list of four.
The "Maze Munch" game lets children become a lion, a clownfish, a skunk, or a chameleon to travel through a maze. When playing as the clownfish or the skunk, they need to gather food while avoiding predators. Playing as the lion may be a little disturbing to younger children, because you chase zebras, pounce on them, and devour them (no blood is shown, but you do hear a loud "roar").

"Matchomatic" cleverly asks kids to match animals to specific traits, such as the body coverings or the type of tail. Kids use the stylus to select an animal on the lower screen and then fling it up into one of two circles on the top screen that shows the trait.
The "Creature Collector" game uses the fast pace of flashing animal pictures to create excitement about classifying animals. For example, the game might ask for all animals that have whiskers. As a variety of animals flash on the lower screen, kids tap those with the requisite trait.

After kids have earned enough points, they must answer correctly ten questions about the earned animal before it is released into the featured habitat.

The game also adds excitement by periodically triggering an "animal alert" which sends kids scrambling into the habitats to find an animal that has wandered into the wrong environment. We found a raccoon in the middle of the ocean.

Game Analysis

This is a fabulous way to introduce children to 25 animals. The games make children think by having them sort and classify animals based on their traits. The maze game teaches kids about how animals fit into the food chain. And the trivia game teaches them interesting facts about each animal.

A similar version of this game was released in 2006 for the Leapster. If you own the Leapster version, this DS version is not all that different. But if you are new to this game, Animal Genius makes a great addition to any child's Nintendo DS library.

All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.

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Animal Genius (DS)
Released: 9/25/2007
Company: Scholastic
Price: 29.99
Platforms: Nintendo DS
Available: Amazon

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