If you saw the Microsoft press conference in its entirety, you saw Double Fine’s simulated family play Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster for the Kinect. Even if this game isn’t for you, know that this is a proper title regardless of genre – gameplay is intuitive and accurate, visuals are sharp, and overall it is true to its audience unlike many titles out there.
Sure players above 7 years old may likely pass it up. This is not the game for that crowd, however. This is for the child and his/her family; and for them, it is perfect.
Tucked away in a corner of the Warner Bros. booth was where you could find Double Fine at this year’s E3. A rather large man from Double Fine greeted me and asked me if I wanted to play. Sure, I said, setting down my computer bag. Given the height difference, I was naturally Elmo to his Cookie Monster.
There was no new gameplay beyond what they showed off at the press conference. Albeit, to actually play the game is best for an impression. After the play date, I must honestly say I was surprised.
Getting into Once Upon A Monster is effortless. Even a child can do it, which is the point. The premise has the player searching for a lost children’s book sharing the same title as the game. One navigates through chapters (levels), using hand swipes to turn the pages, opening up both arms to fly into the chapter of choice.
In true Sesame Street fashion, each chapter touches upon a life lesson. The chapter we demoed focused on why you should be yourself — a straighforward message matched by straightforward gameplay.
The first part had us mimicking GrrHoof, a behemoth of a monster trying to be a small bunny-like Puffalope. Creeping, stomping, hopping and throwing my hands up, Elmo matched my movements for the most part. There were a few times where he struck poses slightly different than mine (picture the tiny red monster slightly leaning and sticking one leg strangely out while I’m standing straight), but I chalk that up to the game’s stage in development. The bug catching portion of the chapter was perfect on the other hand.
Overall I have to give Once Upon A Monster two thumbs way up. Barring the minor tick mentioned above, gameplay is spot-on, the graphics are lush and things are only going to get better with Double Fine at the helm. I don’t have children, but there are two things that are certain if I did: I would groom them to be better gamers than I, and I would pick this game up first day of release this Fall, no questions asked.