As Christmas draws ever near, the time has come to enthuse about the latest wonderful gadgets you could be getting for yourself, or for your loved ones.
One of these wonderful gadgets is the Xbox 360 “Kinect” attachment. If you have kids, and don’t already have a Kinect (or an Xbox 360) then it’s a brilliant choice this Christmas. Especially now that you can pick one up for around Â£250 with a spate of games.
One such game, Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster, is a surprising foray back into a series which I thought had been consigned only to childhood memory. I’ve not really seen anything “Sesame Street” either on TV or in stores despite having a 4-year-old daughter; so the game comes as a surprise.
Fortunately, it’s a pleasant surprise. Whilst I’m most certainly not in the target market, my daughter is and has thoroughly enjoyed the diverse variety of activities available throughout the games storybook.
My daughter is no stranger to gaming, insisting on playing everything from Minecraft, to Rayman Origins, LittleBigPlanet and even, if she can force a look in, the likes of Skyrim. But there’s something reassuring in plonking her in front of a game which is not only targeted at children, but that encourages a more active method of play. Kids, as you may know, appear to have limitless reserves of energy. Expending some of that playing a Kinect game isn’t a bad thing, particularly with the outdoors being largely unappealing in the winter months.
The Kinect is not without its drawbacks, though. It isn’t perfect when it comes to motion tracking and it’s sometimes tricky to get it, and a hyperactive child, to play well together. Certain elements of Once Upon A Monster are particularly tricky, such as pulling both sides of the storybook, an action which requires a fairly elaborate and co-ordinated gesture. Additionally, sometimes it just doesn’t want to play nice, and a quickly frustrated child will soon find themselves angrily flailing about in ways it’s never likely to recognise. But, by and large, it works well and some of the mini games are much easier and more co-operative than others.
A particular example, which finds you running into the screen jumping, ducking and reaching, involves much less finite, full body gestures which the Kinect is far better at recognising.
Make no mistake, Once Upon A Monster is nothing but your typical compilation of Kinect mini-games and doesn’t bring anything groundbreaking to the Kinect table. What it does bring, however, is a varied fun and engaging adventure that’ll keep the little ones busy whilst the grownups ( good lord, that’s us! ) get down to business with the Christmas meal.