Sesame Street has been on television for more than 40 years. In all that time, it has been a cornerstone of children's entertainment. As we grow older, however, the famous muppets like Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, and Grover have nothing left to teach us and quickly lose their appeal. Leave it to Tim Schafer and the folks at Double Fine to change all that.
Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster didn't start out as a Sesame Street game at all. They had already begun work before bringing in the Sesame Street elements. In Once Upon a Monster, you're taking on the role of Sesame Street staples Cookie Monster, Elmo, Oscar the Grouch, and Grover in various minigames that are all about kindness, friendship, and sharing.
For the on-the-floor demonstration, one of the developers and I were taking on Elmo and Cookie Monster, respectively. There was a monster in the background that was honestly more afraid of us then we were of it. To make it feel better, we were to mimic the monster's movements. In this respect, it was sort of like Dance Central, mirroring onscreen movements.
The next minigame had us catching fireflies, with the assumption that part of why we're scared of monsters is because they are often in the dark. For this, fireflies would buzz around the screen and we would use our hands to "catch" them. The game was even handy enough to show a couple virtual hands on the screen so you knew where the Kinect thought our hands were. Most of the bugs were small and you could just move your hand over them, but there were larger bugs that required you to use both hands and hold them for a few moments.
The last minigame we tried involved some very cute little creatures. Though we had shown that the larger monster was harmless, these little fellas still needed convincing. To do this, we would throw little treats to them to coax them forward out of their holes. Throw too hard or hit them and they would flee. After throwing a few treats and bringing them forward enough, one would run up and we would use our virtual hands to pet the little creature, reassuring it that everything was okay.
Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster really captures the looks, sounds, and whimsy of Sesame Street. The Kinect controls are fairly tight, particularly considering the game is still early enough in development that they don't have a firm release date yet. The minigames are numerous and varied already and they're still creating more. I was really amazed how much fun I had with this game. It will be a must-own title for those with children. Even if you don't have any, you may want to pick it up anyway for a great party experience.