Dora’s Let’s Play Backpack from Duo is a neat idea: a toy add-on to the iPad that works with an app, providing a simple gameplay mechanic for preschool-aged children based on the hugely popular Dora the Explorer and friends. Or at least, it would have been neat if it worked, which unfortunately for our family, was not the case.
I can see from other reviews and posts on the web that other families are finding success with the Let’s Play Backpack, so it’s good to know that it’s not a complete fail of a product, but that leaves us to look at what the Backpack is supposed to do, not what it actually did.
Dora’s Let’s Play Backpack is literally a plastic version of Dora’s Backpack that works with your family’s iPad by setting the tablet on a flat surface, then placing the backpack’s sensor over the top of the screen while running the app. The app features four different activities, each of which features three adventures, all themed around different places and simple skills. During each adventure, children are given a series of questions to answer to allow them to move through the adventure, complete with full narration by Dora.
All of the answers are simple A or B questions, and you child chooses their answer by placing one of their tokens on either the red or green circle on the top of the backpack. If they’ve chosen the right answer, Backpack will swallow their token, with the winner being the first child to get all their tokens into Backpack. For our family, that was the part that didn’t work. No matter what we tried, the piece that rotates to allow the tokens to drop in simply wouldn’t rotate, though it would turn to empty out the tokens, so clearly it wasn’t completely broken.
That didn’t stop my 3-year-old from having fun playing with the app, even if the Backpack wouldn’t take his tokens.
Where things start to get dicey is the $40 price tag, which feels at least $10 too expensive, and really limits this to only the most avid young Dora fans. I’d be worried about my kids growing bored with the backpack or the app. There are other adventures that can be purchased (five for each of the four different activities at $1.99 each or $6.99 for the lot), but after spending $40 to buy the backpack, I can’t imagine I’d be in the mood to spend another $7.
For long term value, it would be great to see either new free updates to the app, or more free apps that work with the backpack. (Did I mention it should be free?) The activities are really simple in nature, and it seems like it shouldn’t be too difficult to create more to help parents feel like they’re getting their money’s worth.
The GamerPops Recommendation
I really wish we could give a complete review and recommendation for the Dora Let’s Play Backpack from Duo, because there’s definite potential for entertainment and education, and the app itself is simple but appealing for pre-schoolers.
So, we’ve opted to give the Backpack the benefit of the doubt that we received a bum unit, and simply say that families with iPad-savvy preschoolers with a love for Dora may want to check this out, so long as the kids are super into Dora, and they find the Let’s Play Backpack on sale.
A review copy was provided to GamerPops.
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