Hello, and welcome to another installment of the 360 Backtrack. I am about to lose all of my dignity as a man and say I really liked this game based off of Sesame Street. It is amazing since this is based off an educational television series that has been going on for over 40 years now. That is unbelievable, but hey, it’s still a popular kid’s show. Heck, I watched it when I was a kid and it was basically the first show I ever watched, next to Thomas the Tank Engine. Anyway, let’s move into my next topic, Double Fine productions. I think this company and Twisted Pixel are the new Rare, due to their creative and great games and stylized sense of humor. However, this review focuses on Double Fine, one of my favorite companies of all time. I love their games like Psychonaughts and Brutal Legend, which happen to be two of my favorite games of all time. This review will focus on their most recent game and their first licensed game, Sesame Street Once Upon a Monster for the Xbox360 Kinect. When I first heard about this, I had some concerns and I didn’t really think it would work out due to the lukewarm reception to the Kinect line-up that it has right now. Basically, the only games you could and would want to get for the Kinect were Dance Central, Kinectimals, and Gunstringer. Good news for you all with little kids and a Kinect, you should get this game! It is actually not bad. Once again, Double Fine does a great job bringing us a creative license game.
The story is set around Elmo and Cookie Monster, who bump into each other one day. Elmo was carrying a couple of books and Cookie Monster recognizes one of the books called, “Once Upon a Monster”. They then get pulled into the book and have to help a bunch of monsters solve their problems and basically save the day. It’s a lighthearted tale, but for a 22-year-old, I felt pulled in even if the characters and storytelling was simplistic. It isn’t a very deep or dark game, but then again, that would be very messed up for a Sesame Street game.
The gameplay in this game is, of course, a set of mini-games. I am not surprised since this is a Kinect and it was usually made for casual gamers and families. Each chapter is set around a specific original monster that has a problem that needs the help of Cookie Monster and Elmo. There are multiple missions like help one monster get a better birthday party, help a monster become more brave, help a monster regrow her garden, and even help a monster tell stories at the end of the game. There are different scenarios, and a lot of the mini-games will repeat through these chapters, but there is enough variety to where there isn’t the tedious feeling of repetition. You can play by yourself, but it’s great there is a two-player option since the movements and controls are simple and easy to grasp. You will be doing a lot of dancing, jumping, raising your legs up, spinning around, using the Kinect microphone to speak, and a lot of simple movements that shows this game was made for kids, but can be enjoyed by a guy or girl in their 20’s. This whole game will take about 10 hours or so and is really meant to be played in bursts instead of straight through. There are also unlockables like videos of Tim Schaeffer himself talking about the game and other videos.
The graphics are beautiful. They remind me of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat due to the great detail put onto the Sesame Street characters and new monster’s fur. The world is colorful, detailed, and fun to look at. The performances by our puppet friends are great and the humor is actually pretty funny. Then again, if there is anyone that can make the humor in a Sesame Street game funny to a guy in his 20’s, it’s Double Fine productions. The music is great also with a mostly happy soundtrack. It’s very calming and is only energetic when you need it. I’m happy about this since this is how a kid’s show or game is done right in the presentation department. Don’t make it loud and obnoxious all the time. The world is creative looking, but it isn’t extremely over-the-top nor is it safe-looking. Once again, Double Fine gives us a creative and well-put together presentation.
However, there are just a few minor complaints. I had some control issues with some of the mini-games due to them not really feeling responsive. The only times I had issues like this were with the watering mini-games. Other than that, the controls were responsive and simple for kids to learn. I also kind of wish there were more old Sesame Street characters instead of just Grover and Oscar. Then again, that is probably my inner child talking since this show is close to me.
Overall though, this is one of the better Kinect games alongside Gunstringer (seriously, if you have a Kinect, buy Gunstringer!). I know it’s weird for someone like me who’s second favorite game of all time is God of War 3, a very violent game, saying that this is a great game. However, you should really check this game out yourself. It is extremely solid and is perfect for young kids. If you have young kids or love Double Fine games, then I see no better game to get for your Kinect than Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster.
This game gets an 8 out of 10