A German-language green Leapster
ManufacturerLeapFrog Enterprises
Product familyLeapster series
TypeHandheld game console
GenerationSixth generation
Release dateOctober 7, 2003; 20 years ago (2003-10-07)
Discontinued2011 (cartridges)
2014 (final discontinuation)
Units sold4 million
MediaLeapster cartridges
Operating systemMQX,[1] Macromedia Flash MX 2004
CPUARCTangent CPU @ 96MHz
Memory(2MB RAM, 256 bytes NVRAM)
Display160x160 CSTN touchscreen
Graphics4 MB ATI chip
SoundMIDI, CELP voice compression at 8000 Hz
Best-selling gameSpongeBob SquarePants Saves the Day!
Leapfrog Didj
ManufacturerLeapFrog Enterprises
Product familyLeapster series
TypeHandheld game console
GenerationSeventh generation
Release dateJuly 1, 2008; 15 years ago (2008-07-01)
Units sold500
MediaLeapster cartridges
CPUARCTangent A5 (Overclocked)
Best-selling gameLearning Path games
SuccessorLeapster Explorer

The Leapster Learning Game System (previously known as the Leapster Multimedia Learning System) is an educational handheld game console aimed at 4- to 10–11-year-olds (preschool to fourth grade or fifth 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. The Leapster was released in October 2003.[2]

LeapFrog released the Leapster2 handheld device as a successor to the Leapster in July 2008.[3] 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.[4]

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. 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 on October 7, 2003,[2] the Leapster has since undergone several revisions and remakes. The Leapster L-MAX, 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 console's size has decreased and the 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". [5] [6] [7] [8]

Games licensed

Technical specifications


Most 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, said 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".[9][10]


  1. ^ "leapster.cpp (MAME GitHub)". Retrieved 27 January 2024.
  2. ^ a b WARREN BUCKLEITNER (December 4, 2003). "For Little Fingers, an Array of Digital Tutors". New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  3. ^ "LeapFrog Leapster2 and Didj: Handheld Edu-Gamers For the Pre-iPod/Cellphone/DS Demographic". Gizmodo. 5 February 2008. Retrieved 2021-03-23.
  4. ^ "First Look: New LeapFrog Technology–Leapster 2, Didg, and more | Geek.com". Archived from the original on 2008-12-07. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  5. ^ "Water Cooler Games - Hacking the Leapster, plus Squeak and procedural literacy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-24. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  6. ^ "Water Cooler Games - the Truth about Third Party Development on the LeapFrog Leapster". Archived from the original on 2008-12-19. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  7. ^ "Water Cooler Games - Leapster: Third Party Development after all?". Archived from the original on 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  8. ^ Bogost, Ian. "LeapFrog Leapster Update: L-Max and Third Party Development". Archived from the original on 2009-01-05.
  9. ^ "Customer Success Stories". Adobe. Retrieved 2021-03-23.
  10. ^ Scott Janousek (2007-05-23). "Flash Lite 2 - "A Developer's Perspective"". Archived from the original on 2020-09-15. Retrieved 2021-03-23. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)