Thursday, April 8, 2010

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I was very excited when Community Team from JumpStart 3D generously offered me a membership to their virtual world and a giveaway for my readers. As you might have gathered from my blog, I was trying to keep my daughter as “unplugged” as possible for the first three years of her life. But since both of us work in high-tech, Anna sees us on computers quite often and loves it when she gets to play too. Now she gets up to 1 hour of electronic entertainment a day, and I thought that JumpStart 3D will be a great place where she can come back again and again for fun games and learning. As I do with some books, movies and games that could potentially fly over her head and frustrate/confuse her, I decided to log in and travel around in this world myself first. So here is my first review (I promise that review from Anna’s point of view will still come once we find time to play together). It can be summed up like this: Very interesting concept, but needs work!

Pros first:

  • - I liked the idea of earning coins to upgrade your character. We had a JumpStart CD game before where you were getting things for your pet and then you were supposed to drop your pet off and get another one. Anna was really unhappy with this game scenario. This one keeps player motivated in upgrading the character, so it’s already much better.
  • - The world is pretty big, richly detailed and includes many interesting places. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to visit some of them – see cons now.

Cons:

  • - The performance on my computer was horrific. I kept clicking on other sites to make sure that I am not experiencing a general Internet congestion, but it looks like the problem was really with JumpStart site. You don’t want to have a wiggly preschooler on your lap waiting anxiously for 5 minutes for the game to load. A few times the game appeared completely stuck, and I had to close the browser window and therefore kill the game entirely. I am hoping that I was just unlucky, and therefore I want to try again on the weekend to see if performance improves. I will update you in my giveaway post.
  • - Navigation is somewhat complicated due to so many different options. This is not a problem for an adult or an older child, but I can’t imagine that my daughter will be able to get around in this world on her own without playing for hours (and I am not quite ready to let her play for hours).
  • - The first place I visited was a Brain Training Arcade. It has a very interesting 3D layout, but it looked to me that certain games just repeat across several machines. I was also disappointed that games for 3-5 are so boringly repetitive. In one game I tried, the cows asked to match the numbers and then praised the player for matching letters. The other game was exactly like the first one, except now it was monkeys, not cows. I was hoping to see games that would involve a bit more logical thinking. But in defense of JumpStart developers, navigation in this world does require a lot of logical thinking.
  • - The website is not very helpful, to say the least. It has a cool interactive map in one of the menus, but the map doesn’t give any information about what is available in this location and what age group this area is designed for. Hey, JumpStart, hire my husband, and he can really help you in an area of usability. You need this help to make your great idea even better!

Stay tuned for Anna’s review and a giveaway coming some time next week (and I sure hope that I can report better news on product performance!). Hmm, I am wondering if I ever get another review offer from anyone? Still – I am committed to providing an honest opinion on the products and services that I am reviewing.

7 comments:

Ticia said...

So, I'm guessing you no longer need to win my giveaway.....
Interesting that we didn't have any of the play problems of being slow on our computers. But, we have fairly new ones for paying MMORPG games.
I'm guessing Anna might like the games aimed towards older kids, that's probably more where her skill set is.

Evenspor said...

We tried it a couple of months ago, just the free trial offer, and the play wasn't slow, but every time we played, my computer shut off after so many minutes. Every single time. I figured that couldn't be good for my computer, so we stopped playing.

I also found navigation to be pretty tricky.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

We've had mixed reviews with the JumpStart Cd-Rom games, too. Some are just excellent, and some are great ideas, that just didn't quite make it. I look forward to hearing more, after you've had more time with the membership.

Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

I've never heard of this. Looking forward to Anna's review! Sounds interesting!

Adriana said...

It was very interesting to read your review since I just got asked to review the same program. My membership just got activated yesterday so I have not got to try it out yet with the boys. I'll let you know how it goes.
Oh, I finally got the McLinkey put up. It was not working yesterday for some reason.

Debbie said...

I have been reading reviews for this program, but am not completely sold on it as of yet. I look forward to reading more of your review, but I really doubt I will be going there anytime soon.

Pathfinder Mom said...

I was curious about this as well. We really don't need any more screen time, but I do like to know about good possibilities for the future. Sounds like this one is a miss.