I've been extremely excited for Double Fine's Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster for the Xbox 360 Kinect since the second it was announced. Not sure why and it's kind of weird since I didn't grow up on Sesame Street. It's more of a recent development and it may be my subconscious trying to balance out all the violent games I play regularly. That and I really miss The Muppets.
Once Upon a Monster is setup as a children's book and the first chapter sees Cookie Monster and Oscar coming across a sadden monster named Marco. Why is he sad? Because no one came to his birthday party. That's pretty f*cking sad.
Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster
Developer: Double Fine
Publisher: Warner Bros.
To be released: Fall 2011
Sesame Street is all about helping children learn and develop and Once Upon a Monster is no different. The scene I described is honestly pretty sad to look at. Kids will look at this and should trigger some feelings of concern. They'll want to know why the monster is sad and try to help it out.
One of the ways you'll help Marco out is by doing one of his favorite activities, running through the Electric Forest. One player controls Marco and the player will need to jump and lean left or right in order to avoid obstacles. Player two controls Elmo who's riding on top of Markco. The Elmo player will need to raise his hands up in order to grab objects or lower their body in order to avoid overhead obstacles.
Another game that was shown off is a dance mode where Grover puts on disco attire and leads the dance moves. Both players just need to mimic the moves Grover is performing and it's pretty damn hilarious seeing Cookie Monster dance around.
The animation for all of the monsters are based on the real puppet movements so they all move as they would in real life. It's so accurate that there were moments that I though I was watching real footage as opposed to in-game images.
There's also voice control in the game and you'll need to speak to your Kinect in order to make some stuff happen. At the end of the chapter, you celebrate Marco's birthday by yelling "Happy birthday" and telling him to "blow out the candles!" It's kind of like Dora the Explorer, except you don't look like a jackass speaking to your TV since nothing actually happens.
All of the games are pretty simply and there's no real penalty for messing up. Again, this is Sesame Street and they just want kids to get through without disappointment or failure. It's pretty rare to see a game where it actually tries to impart life lessons. Sesame Workshop, the organization behind Sesame Streets, hopes that players discover how to make friends, learn how to cooperate with others and even face fears. That's pretty fucking rad if you ask me.