Every once in a while, a game comes along that transports you to a magical destination. These types of games are full of adventure, charm, and whimsical fun. Sometimes a game can lift the burden of every day life and let you be a kid again. Sometimes a game can let your kids be the decision maker. And sometimes there are games that blend both perfectly.
If you have small kids in the house and are looking for something fun and educational, then “Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster” may be the perfect thing for them. Once upon a monster is a kid-friendly Kinect game that brings to life the same show that has been watched by kids around the globe. All the favorite characters, and even some new ones, stop by and help teach some great life lessons.
The free demo is available on the Xbox marketplace and is a fairly good representation of what the game is about. Although there is a huge market for people seeking nostalgia, adults probably will not be playing this game solo. While there are some kid themed games on the Kinect that adults may enjoy, Once Upon a Monster really comes to life with a younger audience in the room. Playing side-by-side with a younger participant can yield great rewards. This is perhaps the best game on the Kinect where the parent can play with the child at the same time. This is perhaps also the best game on the Kienct where two siblings can be playing at the same time. Having a shuffling living room is no problem, because Once Upon a Monster follows whomever is playing without any hitch. Players can jump in and out as they please, at any point in the game.
There are six chapters in this living story, with the ability to add content through possible future downloadable expansions. There are a set number of activities in this game, but they don’t become boring or repetitive thanks to the changing story. Some of the activities include: posing, dress up, flying, drumming, tossing, and much more. All of the activities are fairly simple, but those trickier tasks can be aided with the help of parents. Each activity page of the chapter is given a star rating and each activity can be played over to achieve up to a 5 stars.
As chapters are unlocked, they are then made accessible for returning at any time. This game doesn’t have free play areas, like some other Kinect kids games, but again all the activities can be played as many times and whenever the player desires. The story seems like it takes about 6-8 hours to complete, with a little over an hour to go through each chapter.
There are some areas that may be a little frustrating for little ones, but all is made fixable by the incredibly easy partner assist and/or tag team approach to playing. The only problem with jumping in and out of the game so easily is earning achievements. The Kinect does a really good job of spotting who is playing and who is earning the achievements, but doesn’t like to give them out for playing as a family affair. In other words, if you are sitting down when your kid earns an achievement, don’t expect it to show up in your profile. You have to earn it yourself.
The graphics, sounds, and presentation are all totally on par with what you would expect from a Sesame Street show. This game really feels like the show, but made more interactive. I was hoping to see more of Double Fine’s fingerprint here, but Sesame Street is clearly the main theme in this game. This is actually a great design choice, because it really encourages kids to play along. I was amazed at how active my kids were in each activity. They picked it up and were carried away to a whole different world. They were literally in Sesame Street’s universe.
In reviewing games, I like to look for the five f’s: fitness, fun, family, functionality, and firsts. This game is not billed as a fitness game, but will definitely get your kids moving (and you too). They will be jumping, flapping, dancing and more. There is definite fun to be had by kids who are of the Sesame Street watching age. The older fans of Sesame Street may have some fun, but nothing is like playing the game with or as a child. The game is very family friendly and has a lot of great life lessons to share. As for functionality, the game is technically great. There are a couple of places young kids could get hung up on, but nothing an able-bodied parent wouldn’t be able to fix. And as for firsts, this is the first story themed game for Kinect and one of the first games to absolutely nail the in and out ability of different players.
In summary, if you have kids in the house of the Sesame Street watching age, this is a true gem to add to your Kinect collection. The game is easy to pick up and lots of fun to go through. While there aren’t really any free play areas, each activity and story section can be played over. Once Upon a Monster may be a bit repetitive for the older crowd playing solo, but will bring a golden smile to anyone who plays with kids.
To discuss this game or the review, please direct your comments to our ‘Kinect to Fitness and Health’ SparkPeople group, here.