News and reviews of children's products from Edutaining Kids.com

Restoring and Cleaning Your Classic Nintendo Games

The members of the original Nintendo generation have begun to enter their 20s and 30s. Many of them even have children of their own. For many, the onset of adult life comes with an occasional desire to revisit some of the simple pleasures of youth, and there can hardly be a better way to do this than by replaying some of the classic console games that gave us so much pleasure in childhood. Unfortunately, classic Nintendo and Super Nintendo games were cartridge-based and extremely sensitive to dust and corrosion, and when the delicate metal contacts on these cartridges were dirty, the games would often refuse to function at all. When buying a classic Nintendo game on the secondary market today, this problem is even more likely to occur as the vast majority of used cartridges that are available have been improperly stored for two decades or more. Thankfully, with just a few household items, it is possible to restore these games to their original operation while avoiding the inflated prices that are charged by game retailers for cartridge refurbishment. Getting Started Before you begin restoring your classic Nintendo games, you will need a fully-functioning and clean Nintendo console. Nintendo games are equally as susceptible to blinking and non-playability if the console is dirty as they are if the games themselves need to be cleaned, and it is far more difficult to clean the inside of a console, which was never meant to be opened by the end user. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you purchase a refurbished Nintendo console to enjoy your games with a minimum of hassle. Alternatively, several clone consoles are currently available which emulate the original hardware to near perfection. The SNES/NES FC Twin Video Game System is a popular example of this; it is able to play both Nintendo and Super Nintendo games, and generally costs under $50. Supplies Required Before you begin cleaning your classic Nintendo games, ensure that all of your supplies are laid out in front of you in a manner that is accessible. You will need some isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, a large supply of cotton swabs, a small dish or cup, and a place to dispose of your dirty cotton swabs. Because alcohol is a highly flammable substance, do not smoke or leave an open flame in the area where you will be working. Cleaning Your Games Pour some of the alcohol into your dish. Alcohol evaporates quickly, so using a separate dish will allow you to close your bottle...

Hot Toys for Christmas 2009

Don’t forget to check out our yearly Gift Guides for Children and Families: Holiday Edition 2009. We have top ten (and more) toys, games, books, music, and more for each of these categories: Top Gifts and Toys for Babies & Toddlers Top Toys and Gifts for Preschoolers Top Toys and Gifts for Kids Ages 5 to 8 Top Toys and Gifts for Kids Ages 9 and up Top Gifts for Families: Holidays edition You can see the top toys for Christmas (and other holidays of the winter season) here: Amazon’s Top Picks in Toys 2009. Hyperdash has been selected in many toy lists each year, and it’s no wonder. We love the game that has kids thinking on their feet–literally. It’s an Edutaining Kids Top Pick as well, as it fits perfectly into our expectations for a quality “edutaining” toy. Hyper Dash puts a new spin on the term “active learning”–it promotes listening, memory, and math skills, as well as giving kids a little workout. Intense fun! For more information about this fun and educational toy, see Wild Planet Hyper Dash. Zhu Zhu Pets are one of the most wanted toys this Christmas, but their scarcity has led to toy stores upping the prices. There are many other alternatives to be found, thankfully. Some of the toys that appear on both Amazon’s list and our Edutaining Kids Holiday Gift Guides include Crayola Glow Dome which allow kids to draw on a dome and have their drawings projected onto the ceiling in full glow in the dark glory, LeapFrog My Pal Scout and LeapFrog My Pal Violet (cute little stuffies that actually say your child’s name after they’re programmed, LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table, and...

DSi versus DS Lite: To Upgrade, or Not to Upgrade?

DSi vs. DS Lite: “To Upgrade, or Not to Upgrade?” Sorry, Hamlet, but where technology is concerned, that is the question. If Shakespeare were still around, he would surely agree; whenever a shiny new version of something you already own is released, it can be difficult to decide whether or not that extra lustre is worth the inevitable extra money. To simplify this comparison, the DS Original will be lumped in with the Lite, as the leap from the Original to the Lite was purely aesthetic: the Lite is smaller, sleeker, features more options for the backlight, and is an all-around better piece of hardware (barring, of course, the Original’s more-attractive price tag and the Lite’s lessened utility as a blunt instrument). The leap from DS Lite to DSi has come with its share of aesthetic improvements, but also with some interesting functional changes, the significance of which will ultimately depend on what you want out of your portable gaming system. If you’re debating a DSi purchase, you’re in one of two camps, generally speaking: 1. You own a DS already, and you’re wondering if an upgrade is in order. 2. You do not own a DS, and are wondering if the DSi, the newest and priciest of the three available versions, is the one for you. In either case, the best way for you to make your decision a well-informed one is to be aware of the changes that the DSi has brought with it. No out-of-ten score can replace the usefulness of a point-by-point comparison in helping you to decide whether or not the new perks are enough to warrant your purchase. First, here are the aesthetic tweaks that this newest member of the DS family is sporting: – The power button (a slider no more) has moved from the right side to the unit’s face, next to the lower left corner of the DSi’s bottom screen, where it is much less likely to be mistakenly triggered as you’re holding the unit. A tap of the button will send you back the DSi’s main menu, and holding it will turn the device on or off. – The volume control has similarly changed from awkward slider to button-based adjustment, and is located on the left side of the unit rather than the bottom. – The Lite was a slim and sleek piece of work, but the DSi is even more thin and pocket-friendly. – Buttons are less prominent on the surface of the DSi, lessening the likelihood that...

De Blob is de Bomb

Imagine a world without color. That’s what the citizens of Chroma City are facing if the I.N.K.T. Corporation gets its way. Enter an unlikely superhero: de Blob. Armed with a Wii-mote and Nunchuk, you get to take on this role and bounce, splat, and roll your way around the city, painting it as you go. This video game is well suited for the Wii. As you bounce, de Blob bounces. As you swing the Wii-mote, splats of color are hurled across the screen. Racing through the city, splashing, splattering, and painting everything in sight, is fun. Squashing Inkies is even more fun. Inkies act as color police, trying to stop de Blob from coloring the city through the use of ink turrets, ink spills, tanks, and other devices. De Blob is part of the color revolutionary movement. His fellow color revolutionaries have special powers such as painting, combating, racing, and supersizing. Together, de Blob and his helpers paint the town and free the citizens from a dull and uncolorful world. With its “Long Live Color” story line, de Blob is entertaining and fun. It also has an educational element in that young players learn about mixing colors. When paint is mixed in de Blob, the mixtures are accurately portrayed. For example, if de Blob is currently blue and smashes a yellow paintbot, he turns green. As he continues smashing into paintbots, his colors change accordingly, eventually turning him brown. Landing in water washes de Blob clean. De Blob, by THQ Inc., is rated E (for everyone). Mild cartoon violence involves squishing Inkies. This game is fun for players of all ages and doesn’t take too much time to get involved. Younger children enjoy bouncing around and making a mess on screen while parents can relax knowing that the mess is a virtual one. Long live color! Why do we recommend this game? Impressive audio and visual, and gameplay to match. It’s challenging enough for older kids and adults, while still very appealing and “playable” for the younger crowd. A family pleaser. This is why de Blob is on our Best Nintendo Wii Games for Kids list. For more information, user reviews, or to buy:...

The Benefits of Karaoke for Kids

When most of us think of karaoke, we think of one of two pictures, little Asian men singing bad renditions of Madonna songs, or the tone-deaf guy with the leather jacket, disco shirt and bad comb over (as if there is such a thing as a “good” comb over) taking himself far too seriously as he desperately tries to croon his way into the heart of the girl at the bar who was kind enough to acknowledge his presence when he dropped a cheesy line though his drunken stupor. In either case, the idea of karaoke as an aid for helping your kids to succeed in life probably seems, at first glance to be an oxymoron. Bear with me though, for when you realize what an incredible tool karaoke is, you will undoubtedly rush right down to the local Y’all Mart to buy a player and some discs. Kids learning to read often find the task daunting, frustrating, and anything but fun. It’s even less fun if the other kids read better or if adults have to help them too often with the words. Karaoke is a really fun outlet. Not only are the words highlighted on a screen as they roll by, but they are words to songs with which your children are familiar. Start out with the tracks that include the singer’s voice. Seeing the words on a screen and hearing a musician they love pronounce those words correctly in a flow that makes the words mean something as they string together in a times beat will help improve your child’s recognition of words, ability to pronounce those same words when seen in other venues, and allow them to hear the proper pronunciation of those words without feeling stupid for not having figured it out themselves. It’s a fun way to learn, in a format where children have no idea that they are learning. In time, you will be able to use the music track while your kid sings the words back without the aid of the musician and in so doing, they will read the screen better than they have ever read anything before. Most people have trouble speaking in front of others, no less singing in front of others. Karaoke offers a venue for this to happen in a way that is non-threatening, and in a way that will help your child build confidence. Our voices are like instruments. In time, all but the most tone deaf will learn to play those voices with confidence....

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