hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Sesame Street: Once Upon

E3: Double Fine's Once Upon a Monster is my happy song

9:27 PM on 06.07.2011 // Nick Chester

Double Fine founder Tim Schafer sees quite a few similarities between Children's Television Workshop, the folks responsible for Sesame Street, and his own studio.

At Double Fine, says Schafer, the goal is always to try something new, to reach a new audience, and to push the boundaries of the medium of games. Forty years ago, CTW did the same thing when it launched Sesame Street, changing the landscape of children's television and education for ever. That's why the upcoming Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster makes more sense than you might think for a studio whose last retail title was Brütal Legend, a mature title influenced by the world of heavy metal.

I had a chance to see a new chapter of the game's living story book, "The Garden of Weedin'," recently. As a parent of a toddler who's been watching Sesame Street religiously as of late, I'm more excited for this colorful Kinect-exclusive than a grown man has any right to be.

We've previewed Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster before, so I'll just give you the high-level overview of what it's all about. It's a story book brought to life, where two players enter a magical world of good-natured monsters, each of which is struck with a little problem. Using Kinect, players engage in a series of what are essentially mini-games as they assist the friendly creatures with their plight.

In "Garden of Weedin," we meet a brand new monster named Shelby. The normally cheerful Shelby loves gardening, growing, and all things nature, but now she's sad: her garden is ruined. It's being overrun by weeds, and her beautiful, once colorful garden is now trashed. Wait, did someone say "trash"? Enter Sesame Street's own connoisseur of junk Oscar the Grouch.

"What a beautiful disaster," says Oscar, "yucky muddy mud everywhere! And look at all that trash. This is the worst garden I've ever seen… I love it!"

Cookie Monster and Elmo, who the players will be playing as, have an idea: help clean the garden, and let Oscar keep all the trash. "It win-win situation," growls Cookie Monster, as Shelby claps cheerfully.

The story was broken up into a few mini-games, the first of which involved tossing pieces of trash into cans. It starts off relatively easy, easing players into the basics of the movements. Later, the trash becomes color coded, and you'll have to match the garbage balls with the like-colored receptacle. Later in the chapter, players flapped their arms to make Cookie Monster and Elmo (who were wearing bee suits, of course) fly up the tallest plan in the garden. The final section involved "tuning" flowers to sing along with "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Start" by standing up or squatting down to move the pitch higher or lower.

In all cases, the games were simple and fun on a basic level, which is exactly what you'd expect from a game designed for parents to play with kids between the ages of four- and six-years old. To keep things interesting for players of all ages, Double Fine has implemented an adaptive difficult system into the title. If the game notes you're doing particularly well, it might make the games for that player more challenging. The Kinect sensor is even being used to determine approximate age based on height, modifying gameplay behind-the-scenes to match.

But while I was never challenged or particularly blown away by the in-game activities, Once Upon a Monster truly makes up for it in all of the other ways that count. It's adorable beyond words, with such colorful designs, amusing monster dialogue, and activities that I couldn't help but smile while playing. As it turns out, that feeling of elation was key in the game's development.

"The original codename for Once Upon a Monster was 'Happy Song'," explained project lead Nathan Marz. "This is a game that I just wanted when you looked at it and play it it, I wanted you to feel as happy as when you hear your favorite song on the radio.

"This is about an intentionally uplifting and positive experience for families, not another game about guys who say 'Delta!' and shoot people in the face," he says.

I look forward to singing this happy song with my little daughter this fall, when Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster hits shelves.

Photo Gallery: (9 images)
Click to zoom - browse by swipe, or use arrow keys

Nick Chester, Former Editor-in-Chief (2011)
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Editor-in-Chief @ nick at  more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Shinta avatarShinta
MGO's pretty fun! I suck at it though. I mostly hang back and just mark enemies and get the occasional sniper kill. It's pretty fun to be semi-useful with a very hands off role like that. Love my avatar character guy too.
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
Fuck Insecticons
nanashi avatarnanashi
they pooped in my food they pooped in my food they pooped in my food they pooped in my food
Robo Panda Z avatarRobo Panda Z
I have been accused of the greatest of crimes - cookie snobbery.
KyWii avatarKyWii
Rock Band 4 is really fun...takes me back to my teenage days of high school. Also reminds me of all the hours I wasted on a plastic guitar instead of getting better on a real one xD
Avoclefo avatarAvoclefo
Team Fortress 2 just got a massive community-made Invasion update. SFM short, reskins, cosmetics, and 4 brand new maps?!?! God, I love this game and its wonderful community so, so much. [youtube][/youtube]
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
AARRGGGHHHH!!!, GODDAMIT!, fucking SOMA has crashed 3 fucking times in a row and I always lose ~20 minutes of playtime!, playing the same section over and over kinda ruins the tension! >.<'
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
N-Not that P1 isn't perfect the way she is! Isn't that right sweetie? Yes it... Oh, now don't you go and listen to those P2 fans! They just go around spreading rumors and pretending Hitler was just a handsome gentleman in sunglasses, that's what THEY do!
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Persona Q has made me realize I really want a Persona 1 remake on 3DS in a similar style. A lot. A loooooooot. You listening, Atlus?
Super Mario Maker, the announcement of Sonic Lost World for Steam, and remembering all of the mods that got made for the PC version of Sonic Generations makes me wish SEGA/Sonic Team would make their own dedicated Sonic level creation game.
gajknight avatargajknight
Hey, is your fridge running? You better catch it. I mean, it has all your food, and without food, you die. Like, forever. You don't wanna die right? If you die, how will you watch The Good wife with your favourite bowl of Ben and Jerry's ice cream? Go.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
My local Best Buy is drowning in Marth & Dark Pit amiibo
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Spooky yet totally true gaming fact: the bushes and the clouds in Super Mario Bros are the same exact shape. #Spooky
Sr Churros avatarSr Churros
It is coming fast AAAAAAH
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
The newest PS4 update finally got rid of that bug where I'd get the "you can customize your power options" message every time I turned on my console!
El Dango avatarEl Dango
Should I just pass on MGSV? I haven't really liked any of the games after Snake Eater, and it's being used as a money sink at the moment.
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
[Youtube][/youtube] All the episodes are on youtube now. Also I never knew they got to do a season 3. Pretty cool. Now back to Transformers. Scored a gc to my favorite thai place too. Pad ahoy bitches. It's been too long.
ashamasha avatarashamasha
i have almost all the pieces i need to build my own Arcade machine... and the last one arrive this Saturday! Soon, one my childhood dream will became true!
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Interviewer: Konami, why are you selling cosmetic DLC for MGSV? Konami exec: I breathe through my skin.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
What is the Dtoid chat room?
more quickposts


destructoid's previous coverage:
Sesame Street: Once Upon

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -