Sesame Street: Elmo’s Musical Monsterpiece|
Sesame Street: Elmo’s Musical Monsterpiece is geared for children age 3 and up. I have a two-year old son at home who enjoys watching Sesame Street, so the staff here at Game Chronicles decided I’d be the best to give it a try and see how it played in his hands.
The best part about this game is that it features Elmo, Abby and Count von Count, who are among the most recognizable and beloved characters in Sesame Street. Also, their voices are seemingly portrayed by the actual actors who do their voices in the show, so you don’t have any of that fake imitation garbage that you sometimes get with other name brands. These characters are also brought to life in the game using pretty decent 3D models, so it really gives the child the feeling that their favorite Sesame Street characters are right there in the living room with them. There is a story centered around helping Elmo, Abby, and the Count to create a “Musical Monsterpiece”. It is a vague story that serves more as an excuse for the various games, but when it comes to three year olds, you don’t really have to worry too much about having a cohesive story, so it didn’t really matter.
The game features several short games that ask the player to perform a task that is music or counting related. One example is a honker is in the middle of the screen and Abby and Elmo are on the right and left side of the screen. The honker honks his horn and it is either a fast honk or a slow honk. Abby and Elmo each have honkers too and one honks theirs fast and the other honks theirs slow. The player then tilts the Wii remote in the direction of the character that matches the honking of the honker in the middle. It seems incredibly simple and almost boring to an adult, but my son seemed to be fairly engrossed in the task of trying to get it right. There are constant reminders and directions given by the characters to help aid the child in the process. It also allows the player to make as many mistakes as they need before coming to a successful completion of the game, so you never “lose” the game, which is something that I particularly liked. It was always positive and never discouraging to my son.
My biggest issue with this game is that when the young child does make a mistake, there is a relatively long wait before you are given the opportunity to try again. My son, whose attention span isn't very long to begin with, got thrown off by these pauses between chances to give the game input. Many of the games are similar to the one described above and ask the player to tilt the Wii remote right or left to send an object or character in the correct direction. There also seemed to be a longer than expected lag between the input and the resultant action, which made it difficult for my son to understand what he was actually doing. This is probably my only real concern with this game, although it is a major one. For a young child, cause and effect needs to be fairly obvious, and I felt that the inputs for this game weren’t instant enough to really reward the child player with the knowledge that they were in control.
I felt like the games were simplified to the point that a child any older than five or six would find it too easy and boring, but the pacing is too slow for a young child that wants to be constantly moving and doing things, not waiting for the game to get done explaining to them what to do. Then there would be a delay as the characters explained to him what he did wrong and how to fix it. Meanwhile, my son would be tilting the remote back and forth trying to do it again, and nothing would be happening, which added to his frustration. I believe they tried to make the game a slower pace so younger players would be able to keep up with it, but I feel like they overshot this goal and are losing the child's interest in down-time. This is also the first video game that I've let my son play by himself, so it could just be that he is too young and unfamiliar with the controls to really grasp that he is doing anything at all.
There are a few games that ask for constant input, like a dancing game where the child mimics Elmo's dancing motions on the screen, or where you jump to make Elmo jump, and my son especially enjoyed these. Also, after some practice and a little patience, he started to learn how to play the other games, as well, but I still wished that it would have been a little more intuitive for younger gamers. The story does a good job of focusing on the themes of music and rhythm and counting, so it is educational and interactive. I just felt that it fell short in a few areas that could have been done a little better.
Overall, however, I would recommend Sesame Street: Elmo’s Musical Monsterpiece as a good early childhood development game that assists parents who want to teach their young children about counting and music in a new and different way. As I said, with a little patience and help from the parent, the child can learn how the game works and really enjoy it, especially since it features characters that the child is most likely going to be familiar with and enjoy. Also, when it comes to games geared toward young children, it seems that this is probably among the best in its field.