The V.Smile is an educational game system by VTech. It is designed for children ages 3 to 7, but offers software designed for several age groups between 3-9. Titles are available on ROM cartridges called "Smartridges", to play off the system's educational nature. The graphics are primarily sprite-based. The console is often sold bundled with a particular game. Several variants of the V.Smile console are sold including handheld versions, or models with added functionality such as touch tablet integrated controllers or microphones. The V-Motion is a major variant with its own software lineup that includes motion sensitive controllers and has Smartriges designed to take advantage of motion-related "active learning". The V-Motion and Smartriges however are fully backwards compatible with other V.Smile variants and V.Smile Smartridges, and a V-Motion Smartrige can even be played on V.Smile console or handheld, albeit with limited functionality.
Several versions of V.Smile and V-Motion consoles and handhelds have continued to be sold after newer models are introduced, allowing consumers a wide variety of consoles to choose from (often offered in pink color schemes for girls, as well) without worrying about a lack of backwards compatibility between games or consoles. Some key differentiators between systems and the ability to fully utilize all game functions include the options of a microphone, touch tablet, additional joystick port (for 2-player gameplay), stylus-enhanced controller, or motion sensitive game pad (With V-Motion).
A V.Smile generally has an on and an off button on the console itself and two joystick ports, and a compartment for keeping the cartridges in addition to the cartridge slot. Originally only available in Orange/Purple and bundled with a Winnie the Pooh game, a pink/purple colored console was shipped later, targeting girls and bundled with a Cinderella game. Much later, a Red/Blue and Red/Silver model was introduced and bundled with a Scooby Doo game.
The buttons on the game system and controllers are large to accommodate small children's less developed manual dexterity. The default controller consists of an analog stick, four colored buttons, a large enter button, a button (dubbed the "Learning Zone" button) that immediately takes the player to a minigame section of the software, an Exit button (that either brings up an option to end the game or to keep playing, or to exit out of any menu that the player is in) and a Help button (which repeats the spoken instructions or hint provided by the game to the player).
A second generation V.Smile console was launched in 2007. The console is now bundled with a microphone, and a redesigned controller was shipped, which now comes with a graphics tablet built in. However, the design of the console is still the same as the first generation console apart from the presence of a microphone holder. The internals of the system also appears to be based upon the design of the first generation console, as software meant for the first generation console is playable on the second generation console, and vice-versa, although software that takes advantage of the microphone feature will disable the sections of the software that requires the use of the microphone if played on the first generation console.
Source: Wikipedia, "V.Smile", available under the CC-BY-SA License.