Dream house, dream life — Pixel Stars has it all!
Shaped like a house, the Pixel Stars unit features a protective front that slides up, revealing a 1-inch square, colored LED screen. The toy also has a keychain clip for on-the-go play, and four clearly marked buttons that kids will use to navigate the Pixel Stars virtual world! It is available in one fun color scheme, pictured above.
When they first start up the Pixel Stars Dreamhouse, kids choose and customize one of three characters: a celebrity chef, a street style fashionista, or a social media star. They shouldn’t stress about the choice, though, because one of Pixel Stars’ best features is that kids can easily and immediately toggle between these three profiles, making different choices and exploring different options for each character!
The basic setup for each character is the same: Kids start in a house with a kitchen, a living room, a bathroom, and a bedroom. Then, they use the left and right arrow buttons to navigate a cursor around the room and select an object to interact with. The object will provide a menu of options — all with pictures, so no reading is required. Do they want to sleep in the bed, or read in the bed? Get food from the fridge or get a drink? After they make a choice, kids will see an animation of their Pixel Star character performing that action. I love that these animations are fun, but short enough that kids won’t lose interest or focus!
Each choice also impacts the Pixel Star’s “status,” which is a series of bars measuring her happiness, hunger, health/cleanliness, and tiredness. Every action will impact multiple status bars. Taking a shower, for example, increases cleanliness but makes the Pixel Star more tired and hungry. While this makes it difficult to ever fill every bar to its max, this provides an alternative to the status bars simply decreasing over time. The result is one that both kids and adults will appreciate: Kids can leave the game for as long as they would like, and the Pixel Star’s levels will stay the same. There’s no need to check on the Pixel Star in certain time increments, which is a great feature for busy kids!
On top of basic household interactions, there is SO much more to explore in the Pixel Stars Dreamhouse. Kids can play minigames (a different one for each character) to earn virtual coins, which they can spend on hundreds of virtual items to customize their space, from extra rooms (up to 32 total!) to pets, clothes, and furniture. Customization and personalization is a huge theme throughout, as kids can choose the color of each furniture item, the layout of the house, the look of each Pixel Stars girl, and so much more.
Despite its relatively low price point and small size, there is a ton of play value packed into the Pixel Stars Dreamhouse. The ability to seamlessly switch between characters and the endless options within each character profile mean that kids can play for a substantial amount of time without the game becoming repetitive. Plus, because the toy doesn’t connect to the internet, it provides a totally safe tech experience.
I also love that, despite the many interactive aspects of the game, the instructions are a very manageable four pages and rely heavily on images. This makes the toy feel very approachable and easy to learn, providing a thorough overview and fun tips while leaving a lot of content for kids to discover as they play.
The one clarification I would provide, however, is about changing the volume on the Pixel Stars Dreamhouse. The toy features different sound effects to go with each button press, animation, and more. While they are a fun aspect of the toy, there will certainly be situations when putting Pixel Stars on silent is preferable. And don’t worry, that is an option! However, while the directions say that you can find the settings (including volume control) by selecting the Pixel Star’s laptop, I didn’t realize at first that the settings are a subset of the laptop’s “shopping” option. Once you discover this, it is easy to adjust the volume for any situation.
Overall, the Pixel Stars Dreamhouse makes for an easy-to-use, safe tech toy that is perfect for on the go play!