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NanDEMOnai: Once Upon A Monster (360/Kinect)


NanDEMOnai is a semi-regular attempt to profile demos for forthcoming games as unbiasedly as possible, based on their own merits and without any consideration of hype, publisher legacy, place within a franchise, or basis on any existing property. I'm just here to discuss how the demo feels, whether it makes the upcoming release stand out as interesting, and extrapolate how the full game may end up being. Basically, a preview with as little context as possible, like a blind date.

It's rather difficult to extract this demo from any and all context, given that anyone who's ever grown up anywhere has, more than likely, encountered the Sesame Street brand in one form or another. Additionally, it just so happens that I'm fairly old-school in my Sesamexposure, which lends itself to a seething, if completely baseless, hatred of Elmo. But I'll do what I can.

The demo for Once Upon A Monster, from the very beginning, makes every effort to make the players, presumably children and their parents, feel right at home and shows them how to jump right into things. An exchange of comical banter between the renown Cookie Monster and Elmo, the game's main characters, serves as both introduction to the game's premise and its controls.

In the chapter provided in the demo of the virtual pop-up book that is Once Upon A Monster, a whole slew of different activities are offered up, one after another in a friendly onslaught bound to tire out any child, parent, or player trying to hide their ownership of the game from their friends after one full section. For starters, you play through a glorified game of Simon Says with a mussed-up monster who's been scaring off smaller, cute monsters he just wants to befriend.

After gaining his trust and giving him a makeover that turns your new friend pink and purple, it's time to dance. A marathon session with all three monsters ensues, with fairly simple moves switched up after certain amounts of time and constant encouragement from your furry pals.

Once you're done dancing, the demo drops to your standard, stock promotional vid advertising the full version of the game, and you can replay the chapter again once you're done watching it, but that's the only chapter available. Still, the demo does an incredible job of selling the game even without the video. Tim Schafer's touch is clearly evident in how the dialogue manages to stay whimsical and kid-friendly without disinteresting more adult senses of humor. The art style plays perfectly into the picture-book setting, and would look as beautifully at home in a high-fantasy RPG.

While the family involvement angle is pretty clear, I still had a pretty good time, and am genuinely interested in giving the full game a shot once it's released. I'm even a bit less annoyed by Elmo thanks to OUaM. If nothing else, I need to get friendly with Tim Schafer and have kids while he's still alive, so he can babysit. Definitely check this out; the demo won't stay on your achievements list, so your friends can't make fun of you unless they catch you online while you're trying it.
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About nekobunone of us since 5:17 PM on 06.29.2007

Hi, I'm Chris, though I've been going by nekobun and variants thereof for so long, I kind of answer to both anymore.

While I've kind of got my own thing going in the realm of indie coverage, at least in the form of playing through (and streaming) (and writing about) the huge backlog I'm developing of games gleaned from various indie bundles, I try to keep my more mainstream, game-related features here, as well as opinion pieces on the industry at large, out of mad love for the 'toid. When I'm not rambling here or trying to be clever in comments threads, you can catch me rambling on Facebook and my Twitter, and trying to be clever in the Dtoid.tv chat.

Now Playing:
360: Halo 4
PC: F.E.A.R.
SNES: Secret Of Mana

I suck at games: PEW PEW LASERS
Improving game communities: Collective consciousness
Nothing is sacred: These walls have torn my world apart
The wrong thing: Only cream and bastards catch them all.
Love/Hate: I love to hate -you-
Love/Hate: B(u)y the book
The Future: Is still what it used to be
My Expertise: Playing the race kart
Something about sex: Sex sells, but who's buying?
E3 Approaches: It's oh so quiet
Freedom: Together, we'll break the chains of HUDs
East vs West: We've got the empire
Handhelds: Graduating as 2000's Catchemaledictorian
Relaxation: Cheesy double Chief burrito
Online Passes: A spoonful of sugar
Peripherals: Many tentacles pimpin' on the keys
This is what MAGfest is all about
Beginnings: Put it on the pizza
Disappointment: Bad(vent) timing

Recap Topsauce:
It's Thinking: Could you quit playing with that radio, love?
Do the wrong thing: And do it right, for once.
Afraid to shoot strangers.
Not if you were the last junkie on Pandora
Is Jim Sterling servicing the video games industry?
Something About Sex: Unsafe at any speed.
Doing DLC right
Congress passes sweeping Elfcare reform bill
Bottom five healthcare systems in videogames.
Pushing my love over the quarter line.
When my life would depend on an eight point none.
Remember the heroes.
Every Journey begins with a single step.
It's all over now, bomber blue.
Being Social: We'll always have Rainbow Road
Labor Day: Of course you realize, this means wark.
Please, aim it higher.
There Would've Been Brawl: Show me 'round your eggplantcage.
Integration: A place for everything
Zelda Week: I guess this is growing up.
MAGfest: the (don't be an) idiot's guide
Promotions: The bees are alright
Now is the winter of on-disc content
This was supposed to be a dozen items about nekobun.
Without Slenderness, there's something missing.
Cheap tricks (and treats) don't come cheaper than free.
The legacy of the (unlikely) wizard.
Cheap Tricks II: Sugar rush boogaloo
Thank you, for bringing me here, for showing me Home.
Burnt flowers fallen: the tragic bitchotry of Lilly Caul
Red and blue, resolving into purple.
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