Tuesday, March 27, 2007

it's okay to be smart!

being part of the super cool group, parent bloggers network, means that you review products you think are relevant to your life. i signed up for this one because it seemed like a really fun thing that blake could do... and well, anything fun for blake is fun for me!

i received the brain quest package from brighter minds media in the mail and couldn't wait to have blake play it! the package comes with a dvd and some game cards. i was a little concerned since blake is 8 years old and already in 3rd grade, that i might have made a "mistake" signing up to review this product. only because it's 6-8 year olds, and 1-3 grade. they have older ones, but this particular review was for this age group.


the mini quiz cards that it comes with are a little young for blake, but are great for younger kids, although i'm not sure that it's something they would actually play with. blake wasn't interested in them at all. but really, i'm thinking if he had the next level of cards (4-6 grade) he might be more interested.

when we put the dvd in the player, it immediately started with some questions. i found that a little odd, because i like to have instructions, or a menu of some sort- and this didn't seem to have either. it just intro'ed their logo and who made the game, and then went right into questions.

i thought while some of the questions were rather simple, others were asked in creative and innovative ways that really made you think (for example, you had a word on the screen and you had to take away a letter in the word to spell something else you were given a clue about). i think it was very easy to play with your dvd remote and is a great alternative to just simply watching movies on the dvd player while traveling. i actually love the idea of being able to play a smart game while you're driving. there are so many great computer games out there, but you're limited to playing them on an actual computer. i think the dvd game idea is great!

what i didn't like however, was the fact that there was no menu. there was no way to stop the game and it seemed to not really have a point. it just kept asking questions, with no real goal. i also didn't like how it doesn't tell the kid if you got the answer correct. well, it shows them that they picked the right answer, but it would be better if it was more interactive. for example, if they chose the correct answer, i think the voice should say "great job!" or "you're right!" or something encouraging. it doesn't do anything like that. i also think that the game could be improved if you could choose which level you wanted to play at (since it's grades 1-3... choose which grade level you want to play at). maybe if the questions were also in categories (math, reading, spelling, etc). i realize that if you broke them into categories, kids would never play the one subject they dislike, so you could also have a random category that just includes all of the subjects. the game just seemed to continue asking questions and i honestly don't know how long it continues in that fashion, because we turned it off. i think when you come from playing really structured and creative computer games, you expect the same type of thing in any game that you play. maybe the whole point of it was to be simple? i'm not entirely sure. all i know is that if i would have actually purchased this product, as a mother and a consumer, i would have been disappointed. it seems very unstructured and pointless.

now while i had all these opinions about the game, blake never complained. he said more than once while playing the game that he thought it was fun. but he also said he thought it was easy (but that is because he was at the top grade for the level). i had to make him stop playing, so i could see if there was a menu he missed and so i could futz around with it. he definitely would want to bring this in the car for trips and although he liked playing it, he hasn't asked to play it since. i think he likes games that are a little bit more challenging, or at least more interactive.

all in all, the game is a super idea in theory. i think brighter minds media has the foundation for a really fun and solid game, but they need to make some modifications. to read more reviews on this product and other products, please visit the parent bloggers website.