LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Camera & Video Recorder hands-on

While it may be unassuming and requires LeapFrog's Leapster Explorer handheld gaming/educational device to actually work, it's amazing just how much the tiny Camera & Video Recorder add-on actually, ahem, adds on.

No bigger than one of the console's cartridges, the camera plugs directly into the bottom of the Explorer, and brings forth true magic. Not only is it a fully working snapper and camcorder for the toy, but it triggers a whole stack of new software to download through the company's LeapWorld portal and app store.

New learning games make great use of the camera, and Pocket-lint tried a few out at Toy Fair 2011 in London. For starters, pictures taken with the Explorer can then be added to a kind-of Space Invaders game, where a child can set his or her own face as the good guy, and somebody else (their Dad?) as the bad.

And, as this is a LeapFrog product, even such things as a simple shooting game has learning activities as, for example, it can be set to play out maths questions ("1+2" appears, shoot the alien with "3" on its face).

Other games include Photo Fracture, which turns a pic into a jigsaw, Story Creator, which turns photos into tales, and Photo Journalist, although that's a rocky road to poverty and bitterness. Ahem.

In addition, pictures can be drawn on, to add comedy glasses, beards and such like, which can then be sent to a computer via USB and the LeapWorld front-end. They can then be subsequently printed.

It can also shoot and record video in standard definition (640 x 480) and there is a microphone on the accessory too. Plus, one of the games is specific to the mode, as Video Maestro plays a song for a child to make a pop video to.

Certainly, LeapFrog supplies plenty of ways the new camera accessory links in with its existing device, and for those who already own a Leapster Explorer, it's a no brainer. At £14.99 it adds so much more, and even considering the main console's price of £59.99, when combined it's still markedly cheaper than a more adult games console, and more learning and educationally-focused too.

Additionally, new camera-specific games and utilities will be appearing on the LeapWorld online store in the coming months, so it's unlikely a child will get bored of it any time soon.

And when we say "child", we mean ourselves, naturally.