Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster Review (360)
With a slew of games under their belt such as Brutal Legend, Trenched, and Psychonauts, the team at Double Fine has now created a simplistically wholesome game for preschoolers and elementary students everywhere. Once Upon a Monster is a visually charming take on the world of Sesame Street that brings learning back to the forefront in video games. For any parent or caregiver looking for a Kinect game that will engage young children, encourage interaction, and foster imagination while creating a bonding experience, Once Upon a Monster is that game.
The game begins on Sesame Street with a whimsical introduction from Cookie Monster and Elmo. Players are then transported into a magical storybook where the majority of the adventure takes place. In here, players will work alongside Cookie Monster, Elmo, Grover, and a host of other well-known characters to accomplish small tasks. From helping a new friend names Marco have the best birthday ever, to conducting a plant chorus, putting on a play, watering gardens, and cleaning up beasts. Little faces are sure to light up with laughter and excitement as they are rewarded with stars for completing the assigned objective.
Once Upon a Monster is certainly an ensemble of mini-games. Taking advantage of the Kinect technology, it caters to its targeted audience making it very effective and easy to use. The drop in/drop out co-op is a great addition letting second players enjoy the games they want to play, and skip over the ones they don’t. Mistakes are also forgiven by reverting to autopilot or constant encouragement from one of your onscreen pals. Moreover, the game doesn’t offer any negativity. As long as you manage to complete a mini-game to the best of your ability, you’ll still be able to move forward to the next game or chapter. This allows for little arms and legs that might need a rest to take a break without feeling like the game will penalize them, or for adults to stand behind children in order to help guide their movements.
With roughly 30 minutes per chapter, the game may feel a bit repetitious for older children. However with witty dialogue, a collection system, and unlockables such as behind-the-scenes videos, making-of documentaries, and achievements, it certainly gives them something to strive for. And once chapters are unlocked, you can play them in any order you wish.
It’s also worth mentioning that there’s no awkward setup sequence and you’ll never see any kind of calibration screen. Just pop the disk in and watch the magic happen. Even if youngsters are unsure of where to stand, Elmo and Cookie Monster there to let them know if someone is standing in the wrong place. And it’s only if someone is constantly out of position, that a players shape will appear onscreen as a brightly colored figure on a white background as an indicator of what the camera is picking up, a visual aid worth having when young children are involved.
Overall, Once Upon a Monster is a superb family oriented game. Adults will feel nostalgic from seeing their old friends and children will enjoy discovering, playing, and interacting with all the new and old monsters. With themes such as friendship, overcoming insecurities, and perseverance, Double Fine’s game will surly become a hit in every household.
9 out of 10
Please note a review copy of this game was given to my by GamerFitNation. Many thanks to them for allowing me to do the review.