Ok, so you are going away for Spring Break to Granny's house in Florida, but Granny doesn't have a computer. You may be taking your laptop, but it's always a little dicey turning over your work filled machine to the kids. What else can you take along for the kids to do on a rainy day or just for some quiet time out of the sun that's fun and educational?
Enter Snap TV games. These are computer games that can be played on a TV using a DVD player with a remote as an input device. (Don't worry they also can be played back home on your computer or even on a game console that plays DVDs.) And they are not just some knock off computer games. The Snap Games folks have picked some of the best brand name titles from the book, TV, online and software world to make this first transition to DVD driven games. I SPY Fantasy and I SPY Spooky Mansion are two good examples. Both are bestsellers from Scholastic and can now be played on the computer or on the TV, and if anything, are even more fun in this bigger TV screen format. Of course being on a DVD, which has more storage space than a regular CD, there is also more content on board to play, see and do which can keep the games (and fun) going even longer.
To introduce me to Snap Games, the folks there sent me of their latest titles that happened to be from the I SPY series. If for some reason you don't already know about the I SPY franchise, it's all about finding objects that are hidden in plain sight in cluttered pictures in a technology take off from the old Victorian parlor game "I Spy With My Little Eye." Participants are asked to find a specific object on the screen, but these pesky objects are often not exactly where you might think they might appear. Players also have to solve a riddle first to figure out what they are being asked to find.
In the TV remote version, to maneuver around the screen and select one of these hidden items, you use the arrow buttons on the remote to move a square around the pictures on the screen. When you land upon an object that you hope is part of the scavenger hunt, you push enter. If you get lucky, you move on to a new challenge and if you don't, you can get some help or keep trying. Either way, kids have fun. They also practice their visual memory and listening skills, as well as build their vocabulary, while playing. Not bad for a bit of time in front of the TV.
Both these titles will appeal to the 6 to 10 year old crowd and it's hard to choose between them. While I SPY Spooky Mansion is the ideal setting for solving riddles, playing games, revealing hidden objects, and trying to discover the three very different escape routes out of the house, I SPY Fantasy offers the chance to rescue a princess by finding the hidden keys to the castle, a deep sea adventure and a mission on an alien planet as well as six other adventures for young explorers. I also had not seen the ghost making machine aboard I SPY Spooky Mansion in previous editions of this game and thought it was a great addition to the package.
From a practical side, I had no trouble getting these games up and running on my DVD machine and using my remote. The young players who tested these games for me seemed quite up to the task of finding hidden objects using the arrow keys and the enter buttons. Having played older version of this game, I actually thought the response time was quite quick in this TV version, which is a plus. These would also be lots of fun in a car equipped with a DVD player and remote, too.
These games are certainly computer-ready as well, so when you get home from "computerless" Granny's house, the kids can also play them on the computer for hours. These games do have staying power and the fact that the clues are read out loud means that younger kids may also love to play them. Older kids and even adults may also find themselves challenged a bit by the riddles and the clever ways that objects are hidden away in plain sight. Traveling to Grandma and Grandpa's or not, snap up these games and let the "thinkfest" begin.
I SPY Spooky Mansion
I SPY Fantasy
Both play on any DVD player or computer or game console equipped with DVD drive
For more information about the more TV/DVD ready games and interactive books and where to buy them go to the Snap TV site at http://www.snaptvgames.com