The Leapster Learning Game System was an educational handheld game console aimed at 4 to 10 year olds (preschool to fourth grade), made by LeapFrog Enterprises. Its games teach the alphabet, phonics, basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division), and art and animal facts to players. Along with a directional pad, the system features a touchscreen with a stylus pen that enables young users to interact directly with the screen. On February 5, 2008, LeapFrog announced the Leapster2 handheld device as a successor to the Leapster.[1] The Leapster2 is essentially the previous system with an added USB Port and SD Card slot. These additions give the ability to play a downloaded full game or short game including the ability to log data on gameplay, such as what has been learned by the user or art created by the user. Downloadable games are not for sale.[2]

ManufacturerLeapFrog Enterprises
Product familyLeapster series
TypeHandheld game console
Release dateOctober 2003; 17 years ago (2003-10)
Discontinued2009 (leapster cartridges)
2014 (final discontinuation)
Units sold500,000
MediaLeapster cartridges
CPUARCTangent A5
Best-selling gameSpongeBob SquarePants Saves the Day
ManufacturerLeapFrog Enterprises
Product familyLeapster series
TypeHandheld game console
Generation2 remake
Units sold500
MediaLeapster cartridges
CPUARCTangent A5 (Overclocked)
Best-selling gameLearning Path games
SuccessorLeapster Explorer
A girl with a Leapster.

In June 2010, the Leapster Explorer was released and LeapFrog announced a new commercial by Janimation.

The games released since the Leapster2's release log user activity and will send this data to LeapFrog's "Learning Path" system, which tracks educational milestones completed. Completion of certain learning activity can allow online games to be accessed, and in the case of art created on the device, the art can be further embellished online and printed with a printer accessible by the user's computer. Both the Leapster and Leapster L-MAX were retired in 2014 and the Leapster2 was retired in 2019.


Released in October 2003, the Leapster has since undergone several revisions and remakes. The Leapster L-MAX, which is a version that has one extra feature (an A/V TV output, which allows the user to view and hear gameplay on their television) was released in 2004. The L-MAX the console's size has decreased and pen is now a wire instead of a thread. The Leapster TV, a screenless version with the same basic control layout in a console form, was released in 2005 and retired in 2007.

The Leapster was the best-selling educational handheld game console in America and has sold about 4 million units and 12 million software cartridges since its inception, as of May 2007. It is regularly sold in nine countries directly, and in another 7 for teaching English as a second language in schools.


There are approximately 40 games available, and over 50 have been created. This is the largest library for any handheld designed exclusively for educational use.

All games for the Leapster feature a "Hint" function along with a dedicated "Hint" button that will bring up audio or animated information on instructions given in the game.

LeapFrog has not opened the Leapster platform to significant amounts of third-party or homebrew development; software is typically developed in-house or as work-for-hire.

Dave Bauer stated that there is a "depressingly small library of software available for the Leapster ... but some more varied software would make it much more interesting for (my son) ... no platform that has ever been successful without third-party software. ... Besides that, a strong hobbyist platform would be amazing."

Ian Bogost stated "the potential for improved educational game design is simply not going to come from inside the LeapFrog corporation." [3][4][5][6]

Games licensedEdit

Technical specificationsEdit


  • CPU: Custom ASIC containing an ARCTangent-A5 CPU, running at 96 MHz.
  • Memory: Original Leapster: 2 MB onboard RAM, 256 bytes non-volatile. Leapster2: 16 MB RAM, 128 KB non-volatile storage
  • Media type: Cartridges of 4-16 MB with between 2 and 512 KB non-volatile storage.
  • Graphics: 4 MB ATI chip.
  • Audio: Proprietary hardware audio acceleration, which includes MIDI playback and CELP voice compression sampled at 8000 Hz.
    • It retains the same sound source from the original LeapPad from 1999.
  • Screen: 160x160 CSTN with touchscreen.
  • Leapster2 only: USB 1.1 (client only) and full-sized SD slot.
  • Some Leapster2s have no SD slot and use onboard memory in place of it.

All of the software content for the original Leapster was created with Macromedia Flash MX 2004; the device runs a version of Adobe Flash Player ported to the Leapster, that is licensed to LeapFrog. Tom Prichard, Sr. Vice President of Marketing for Leapfrog, stated that he believed using Flash allowed them to "bring the Leapster system to life more rapidly than we could have with any other development method."[7][8]


  1. ^ "LeapFrog Leapster2 and Didj: Handheld Edu-Gamers For the Pre-iPod/Cellphone/DS Demographic". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2021-03-23.
  2. ^ http://www.geek.com/articles/games/first-look-preview-new-leapfrog-technology-leapster-2-didg-and-more-20080327/[dead link]
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-24. Retrieved 2009-01-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-19. Retrieved 2009-01-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2009-01-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Bogost, Ian. "LeapFrog Leapster Update: L-Max and Third Party Development". Archived from the original on 2009-01-05.
  7. ^ "Customer Success Stories". Adobe. Retrieved 2021-03-23.
  8. ^ Scott Janousek (2007-05-23). "Flash Lite 2 - "A Developer's Perspective"". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

External linksEdit