One of the more intriguing titles that Microsoft revealed during its press conference was the Kinect game Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster. While I initially would have dismissed this as licensed kiddie crap, the fact that it's coming from the mind of the celebrated Tim Shafer could make it so much more. While wandering past the Warner Bros. booth, I saw some demo stations for it, and while the line to play Batman: Arkham City was massive, the poor Sesame Street demos looked so terribly lonely I wanted to give them some love.
There's a storybook that you flip the pages with a gesture, then open your arms out wide to enter the page. While I couldn't actually hear what Elmo and Cookie Monster were saying because of the din on the show floor, their voices sounded accurate. Even if I couldn't follow what they were saying! Luckily, I had a very helpful Warner Bros. employee to help explain what I was meant to do. The first stage I tried had us teaming up to toss treats to these adorable little fuzzy creatures to lure them out of their little hidey holes so we could pet and tickle them. The goal was to befriend a certain number of the fuzzballs so they would be friends with the big monster who wanted to be their pal, but scared them away because he's so big. See, he tried dressing like the little creatures, but that just scared them. Which is why it's important to be yourself to make friends. All of the mini-games will have lessons like this.
The other one I tried solo, and that was one where you have to direct fireflies towards a tree with a wave of your hand. This lights up the tree for the monster who lives there. Maybe he's scared of the dark? Not sure. Like I said, I couldn't really hear the voiceovers! But it was a surprising amount of fun, and the character designs of the monsters are just terrific. Honestly, the game made me feel like a kid again, even though I'm nowhere near the age range I assume they're targeting with this game. Because the game is all about the drop-in/drop-out co-op gameplay between child and parent or child and child, there's no real scoring or anything, so I don't know what kind of replay value the game will have. For kids, they'll just want to play the games again and again. But for older gamers, there might not be enough here to warrant a purchase, even if it is from Tim Shafer. Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster is due out this fall.