Reviewing kid’s games is usually a very painful task as I have no idea about the latest characters on our television screens and it’s rather annoying listening to the awesome jokes and silly noises. However, Sesame Street has been around for over forty years now and having watched countless episodes as a child, I had no arguments when I was asked to review Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster - but was it a nostalgic fun ride?
Now, of course, Once Upon a Monster is designed for children but considering it promotes parents playing the game with their offspring it is only natural that it should at least be somewhat entertaining for adults too. Thankfully, I can tell you straight away that playing this as a twenty five year old, I still found it to be very fun and if I had kids of my own would happily spend many hours playing it with them. The stars of this game are Cookie Monster and Elmo and between Cookie Monster always asking for food and Elmo giggling to himself, you will not find it hard to laugh even at the slow moments in the story. It begins with Elmo carrying a large stack of books on Sesame Street; Cookie Monster is busy scoffing a cookie and doesn’t notice Elmo so the two collide and books go everywhere. While helping Elmo pick up his books, Cookie Monster notices he has a special monster book with him and remembers reading it in the past and they decide to read it together but as this is a magical tome they end up inside and the game begins.
The game’s main narrative is comprised of six mini stories about monsters with different problems that need fixing. These stories are told in an easy to understand way and there is very little text on screen; in fact, the only text that I came across was in the pause menu and the title of each story. Cookie Monster and Elmo do a good job in explaining what to do on each page through gestures and don’t rush you through each game, allowing younger children to really enjoy the fun. The motions to turn each page, select a story and begin a chapter are very simple and work really well. The motions that are required during the game are equally easy to perform and accurate. Each story is very different, such as the poor monster Marco who has no friends to come to his party, here you must explore the forest to find his friends who have their own problems and require your help. This aid is always in the form of a mini game and gets the kids active while teaching them all sorts of things without them knowing it. A good example of this is when you must help the monster Shelby clean up her garden; one of the mini games has you weed the garden, plants some seeds and then water those seeds. This is repeated throughout the entire game and for every action you perform correctly either Cookie Monster or Elmo will congratulate you and encourage you to continue.
The game is beautifully presented and each page of the book is drawn in a colourful art style. These pages almost act as a pop-up book when you stretch your arms out to enter the story as the screen brings the page to life. The Muppets and monsters are surprisingly detailed considering how simple they are and for once you can see a whole body representation of some your favourite characters, which is a little strange for some of the older audience who is probably used to only seeing the top half, but it is a nice reassurance that they have legs! The game is designed to be played with two people, one taking on the role of Cookie Monster and then other Elmo and they mimic your movements in the different mini games really well. At the end of each story there is a dance game to complete and these are one of the most enjoyable parts as there’s nothing better than flailing your arms and legs around like a melon to not only get some exercise, but give your mates a good laugh or the kids if you’re playing it with the right audience!
Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster is a fantastic game for kids and is still mildly entertaining for adults at the same time. The graphics are fantastic and kids will probably not even notice they are computer generated. The best thing about the game though is that fact that it is silently teaching children values such as friendship and respect without them knowing it and this is what kid’s games should be about.