LeapPad: The Amazing Spider-Man

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Nathan Chadwick (E-Mail)


LeapPad is a Learning System made by Leap Frog. The LeapPad is a player that is equipped with a MagicPen. You can place a LeapPad booklet inside and pop in a cartridge and the book comes to life. There is a wide variety of books to choose from such as The Incredibles, Learning A-B-Cs, or The Amazing Spider-Man. The LeapPad helps teach reading and writing skills in a way that is fun for the kids. My wife and I use it to keep our kids quiet on long trips or when we are in meetings together (you can use regular headphones with the System). There is a Spider-Man version of the LeapPad also available as well as a Spider-Man MagicPen you can put into any version of the basic System (which is what I have).

Story Details

The cover indicates this booklet is rated at a 1st Grade level and that it is narrated by Stan Lee. It touts how this book teaching Reading comprehension, phonics, logic and deductive reasoning and compound words.

When you turn on the book, a young man's voice welcomes you to The Amazing Spider-Man. You then get a simple version of the classic theme song sung by a man and a woman. It sounds like it was made on a tape recorder with a synthesizer. Kind of fun, I suppose. By the way, whenever you turn off the book, Stan Lee says "Until next time" in the typical Stan way of making it sound like the funnest thing you'll hear all day.

Turning the page, Stan welcomes you to the Amazing Spider-Man. The first page describes how to use the book, then you get a splash page showing MJ, Peter and Flash in circles superimposed on a picture of Spider-Man swinging over Electro, Doc Oc and the Green Goblin. You can click on their pictures and hear them say a sentence. Flash, for example, says "Awesome!" Yeah. Totally. The Green Goblin coughs the first time you touch him. I suppose it's from the exhaust from his Glider, which looks like it's smoking more than my father-in-law. If you touch him again, he says "Any time, any where, I'll be there, flying through the air." Great. Someone thinks the Goblin was created by Dr. Seuss. To me, it's the only downside in this whole book.

As you read the book, you get the basic origin story of Spider-Man. Peter's a nerd. He gets bit by a radioactive spider. It's hard to tell if the web shooters are organic, although one drawing seems to indicate they are not. You can have Stan read the story to you if you wish. There are games on each page involving sounds, letters, reading comprehension, etc. There's a fun page showing several spiders like a Bolas Spider, Common House Spider and a Mexican Red Knee Tarantula. Each spider has symbols that tell you if they live in trees, flowers or the ground and if they are poisonous. It's a good, educational page that my 5-year-old son really enjoys. Although, now every spider he sees is a Common House Spider.

It turns out that "Triple Trouble" want to get rid of Spider-Man. Triple Trouble, if you couldn't guess, is made up of Electro, Doc Oc and Green Goblin. They trash the town to bring Spider-Man out in the open. Spidey takes on Electro first in a very dirty alley. Kids help Spidey fight by finding compound words and their pictures in the alley. This helps Spidey avoid the lightening bolts. In the end, Electro gets dumped in a garbage can.

The next pages have fun sounds like Crash, Zoom and Shoop all over it as Spidey fights Gobby. Kids help Spidey defeat him with a rhyming game. Thus the reason for Gobby's rhyming, even though I still feel it ruins the coolness factor of the Goblin.

The next few pages call Doc Oc Spidey's most dangerous enemy. I disagree on that point, but I know a lot of people will agree. Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus fight in a warehouse. Spidey gets caught by Oc's tentacles, escapes, then webs up the Doctor. Kids help him do this by playing a short and long vowel sound game. If you close your eyes, it's kind of disturbing hearing Doc Ock say "Aaaaa!" and "Uuuuu!" The sounds are annoying, but it did help my kindergarten-aged son learn vowel sounds. So it works!

The final pages of the story show Flash reading the newspaper and exclaiming how cool Spider-Man is. The newspaper shows pictures from the story and you can play a game to put them in order or find them in the book. It's a fun game and fitting for the age group. MJ is in the background looking at Peter thinking "Wish I was that smart!"

The end of the book is the best part. You get to make your own Spider-Man story! First, you choose from three problems - Dog napping, jewel theft and jailbreak. Then you pick a setting - Old factory, Brooklyn Bridge and train station. Choose a Character for Spidey to fight - Mysterio (my personal favorite), Sandman (my favorite as a kid) or Rhino. Choose an event for Spidey to do to try and beat the villain - Spider-Webbing, Spider-Acrobatics or Spider-Strength. Then you can choose a conclusion - Victory, Not This Time (the villain escapes but you rescue the stolen goods) or Surprise (which is always fun like Mysterio escaping into a cage with a lion or Rhino slipping on a banana peel). The story will be slightly different depending on the options you choose. My kids and I could play this game for hours!

General Comments

The LeapPad Learning System is fun and has helped my kids learn about reading, writing and other things. And the Spider-Man story has the origin, good villains and shows and is a fun way to learn. It's probably my kids' favorite story of all the LeapPad stories they have. It doesn't embarass the Spider-Man legacy the way Spidey Super Stories did, and it works for the 1st Grade age group it's aimed at.

If you have kids, the LeapPad would be a good investment. Then you'd have an excuse to get this, too. If you don't have kids but are a completist, you'll have to decide if getting the LeapPad is worth it to you. But if you do buy it, I don't think you'll be upset.

Overall Rating

I'll say 3.5 webs (even though they are actually spiders). I'd go higher, but the story and games are juvenile and the added cost of the LeapPad doesn't help. But it's a great educational tool starring our favorite Webhead that kids will enjoy. The rhyming Green Goblin sure is annoying, but at least it's for a good cause.

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Nathan Chadwick (E-Mail)