When I was a child (some years ago now) TV was different. We had shows like Thundercats, Transformers and the original TMNT. Although these shows have resurfaced in new forms over the recent years, they are just not the same as they used to be. However sometimes a show starts when you are a kid and keeps running. Sometimes the formula doesn’t need to change and you don’t need to dig out old videos to show your little cousins what kids TV used to be like in the ‘good old days’.
Sesame Street is a prime example of one of these shows, it was great for kids twenty-five years ago and it’s still great for kids now. I only wish when I was four years old that technology like Kinect had been around as the two are a perfect fit. As a partnership the coming together of this technology with this well-established institution of kids TV only serves to compound Sesame Street’s educational but fun message.
Ok, so let’s get one thing out of the way. Kinect Sesame Street TV would not be my game of choice over the likes of say Borderlands 2 or Mass Effect 3, but there’s a very good reason for this. This game is made for kids. It has to be said that if you’re over the age of ten or don’t have young kids then there is nothing really here for you. However if you do fall into those categories then Kinect Sesame Street TV could have a lot to offer.
It’s difficult to call it a game in the traditional sense, as it is more like an interactive version of the show itself. This seems strange but is actually one of Kinect Sesame Street’s greatest strengths. Children will simply feel like they are watching an episode that is somehow interacting with them rather than playing it on an Xbox. Soho Productions have really succeeded on this front, as the interactivity that your kids can have with their favourite characters is really quite impressive.
It’s kind of strange to watch someone ask Elmo a question and actually get a response through the TV or throw an item to a Muppet and have it catch it, but this is common place here. There is plenty to do too from playing a piano with your feet to visiting and creating Elmo’s world. Granted, this isn’t my idea of a good time when it comes to Xbox gaming, but my friend’s kids were having a blast.
As with all Kinect titles there is the occasional problem on a technical level. Not detecting movement or understanding responses correctly are rare issues here, but are issues none the less. Weirdly however, Kinect Sesame Street TV is one of the more impressive titles in this area as these issues didn’t occur half as much as many other Kinect titles. This may in part be due to the basic nature of what Sesame Street requires to succeed. You are not saving the world here, just solving the odd maths problem and talking to Muppets. It doesn’t feel epic but then again it doesn’t have to.
Another worthy quality worth sighting here is the amount of positive reinforcement. Your child will never be ridiculed for getting something wrong. Encouragement is given until they get it right and then they are commended. Although it seems like a small and relatively obvious point, it is incredibly important as your kids will continue to have fun and in no way see the game as a negative experience. Something else worth noting is the price. Kinect Sesame Street TV will set you back around £19.99. Not bad for a new release and it is also bundled with a second DVD disc containing four episodes, which is also sure to keep children amused for a while. The value for money here is pretty good, but again this is a very limited product.
Graphically, Sesame Street isn’t exactly bar setting, but I assume that this is simply because it doesn’t need to be. Kids don’t really care as long as they get to talk and play with their favourite Muppets, and that means that this title looks about as good as it needs to. Although it would have been hilarious to have seen a Sesame Street game that looked like Crysis 2, I feel the aesthetic may have been a little lost on the audience. The key here is that this game is active and educational. It sounds cheesy, but if your kids like Sesame Street they will have fun and learn, while also being active. Although I’m sure this title won’t sell millions, it does pretty much do what it intended and relatively well.
All in all Kinect Sesame Street TV is a good experience for kids. It takes an old concept and applies it successfully to new technology making for a fun experience. Add to this some great value for money plus free episodes and you have a great present for any toddler / child who is a fan of the show. Its only real drawback is that will only appeal to a small audience (pun most definitely intended), meaning its sales will no doubt suffer. Despite this, it’s nice to see someone actually using the 360 to educate kids and give them something fun to play at the same time. Would I recommend it to parents with young kids? Yes I would.