Hey, hey! I grew up on the stuff! I was watching Sesame Street loooooong before they put all their eggs in the Elmo basket (Grover FTW, fools). I don’t remember learning a whole lot from it because of the fractured, drawn out way it taught, so maybe I’m a genius because I watched it for years. I don’t know. I’d had my doubts about Double Fine developing the game, not because I didn’t think they could do it, I’ve loved Tim Schafer since Full Throttle, but because I figured this was the bottom. Frankly, none of their games have been successes, much less big ones, and this may be the only way that Double Fine will ever become a household name. So, uh, how’s the game?
Once Upon A Monster uses the Kinect exclusively, which is a huge plus even if you hate Kinect because the worst thing in the world is having a game that is 90% Kinect and then three button presses. The worst. Of course in this demo there’s, not a whole lot as far as controls. You’re playing with Cookie Monster in Elmo here, rolling through chapters in a book, watching as they banter off each other. You physically flip pages and pull tabs on the edges of the tome to enter each stage (although I find the tab pulling super finicky until I adjusted the lighting in the room to just right). The two chapters in the demo involve separate monsters… and a lot of physical activity! Somehow this seems like an absolutely perfect companion to the long-running PBS show, because of the amount of tip-toeing, waving, and dance moves. (Meanwhile in 1989, I sat on my butt the whole time.) Kids are literally required to get moving; it’s not like those old videos where you can watch… no, nevermind, those were just puppets, they couldn’t do the cool dance moves they do here. One huge element that Double Fine has brought to the table is a stellar art direction, something they’ve always been brilliant at. This is a gorgeous game artistically, looking like a genuine high-grade cartoon that you can’t get on TV, unless you have an Xbox 360, of course (it’s exclusive!).
As a charming bachelor, this game obviously isn’t for me, but playing Monster gave me faith that Double Fine is going in the right direction and this game was a perfect fit for them.