Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster review

  • Wonderfully immersive world
  • Intuitive controls
  • Varied gameplay
  • No additional gameplay modes
  • Very short
  • That you’re not a 5 year old anymore

Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster is a game made with the youngest of casual gamers in mind, but those in that audience will definitely go apeshit over being able to actually dance, perform plays, and go on adventures with their favorite Sesame Street characters. Children and parents are sure to love Once Upon a Monster as much as Cookie Monster loves to crumble up cookies in his hand and spit them out on the floor.

The game stars Sesame Street’s most famous faces, Elmo and Cookie Monster. Together they discover a strange, hairy book called Once Upon a Monster, and, in true Sesame Street fashion, ask the player to read the book with them. Players will go through chapters where they will meet new monsters who are in somewhat of a slump. Being the joy-spreading monsters that they are, Elmo and Cookie Monster decide to cheer up their new found friends. Making these monsters happy means doing things like helping a cowardly monster reach his dream of becoming a stage actor and cleaning up a garden that has been filled with Oscar the Grouch’s precious trash. All of the levels and minigames convey the same feeling as watching a television episode - Elmo and Cookie Monster constantly converse with the player and direct the player’s actions throughout the game as they would on the show.

Players participate in minigames like dressing the monsters according to color, playing the drums in a band, and mirroring dance moves using the Xbox 360’s Kinect. All of the controls are intuitive and exceedingly simple to follow, catering to the game’s young demographic. The Kinect also reads the simple movements very well. For example, in one minigame, players are required to play Oscar the Grouch’s version of basketball - throwing balls of garbage in a trash can. If players aren’t careful they can throw the trash ball too short or way too far depending on the force of the throw. So, the game isn’t so simple that a five year old could just flail their arms and progress through the whole game. Once Upon a Monster also moves at the player’s pace in all but a few minigames. It never punishes the player for missing a beat but rewards the player for every success with a bright, shiny star for the level.

As far as presentation goes, Once Upon a Monster looks, feels, and sounds just like the TV show, from Elmo’s infectious giggle right down to the life lessons in making friends, helping others, and sharing. Elmo and Cookie Monster are constantly narrating and giving instructions to the player, making the game easy to follow, even for young gamers. Children who are fans of Sesame Street are sure to be immediately engrossed in Once Upon a Monster from the live action intro scene all the way through the story mode.

While Once Upon a Monster doesn’t offer any additional modes other than the story campaign, it is fun while it lasts - taking us about three and a half hours to complete. Though, it is easy to imagine a child wanting to go back and play their favorite minigame over and over, and maybe even a parent trying to earn a few more stars in co-op.

Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster is a great educational game that children can enjoy with their parents or on their own. The intuitive controls, easy-to-follow story, varied gameplay, and impressive dedication to the tone of the source material make this a great choice for young gamers, especially those who are already in love with the Sesame Street franchise. For anyone outside the child-parent demographic, however, unless there is a need to fill your living space with high pitched voices and extreme fits of joy, you might want to save up for the other bazillion releases coming this holiday.

Oct 11, 2011

More Info

Release date: Oct 11 2011 - Xbox 360 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Published by: Warner Brothers
Developed by: Double Fine
ESRB Rating:


  • Darkhawk - October 12, 2011 6:18 a.m.

    My only objection is a more general one: should we really be catering video games to children so young? Whatever happened to being productive and/or running around outside like a maniac and getting scrapes and bruises? Actually, I have an even more general objection to most digital entertainment directed at very young children. Kids have great imaginations, and certainly don't need TV to keep themselves entertained. On the other hand, with a bit of illicit substance, I can see this being a good party game for my friends and me.
  • mad2man - October 15, 2011 6:10 p.m.

    Well chances are if they're buying this game they already watch TV, and the game seems to keep you active the enitre time
  • Mezolitik - October 12, 2011 4:52 a.m.

    The graphics are fantastic! I'd love to play an RPG or something with those characters. You're never too old for pretty things.
  • Plan10FromOuterSpace - October 12, 2011 3:50 a.m.

    I am going to buy a kinect and this game and then spend 3 hours pretending to be a small child, cant wait. I genuinely REALLY want this and if I ever do buy the useless piece of junk that is the kinect, this and the gunslinger are top of my list of games I want for it. In fact if kinect star wars is at all decent I may buy one and forgo all hardcore gamer dignity for a bit of spazzy arm flailing.
  • mockturtle - October 11, 2011 9:30 p.m.

    I wish they'd port it to PS3 so I could play it. I may be 19, but I can pretend I'm 5!
  • Cyberninja - October 11, 2011 6:44 p.m.

    This game is a 10 the only reason they made it an 8 is so they could use the song 8 is great.
  • FemJesse - October 12, 2011 12:06 a.m.

  • Nap1400 - October 11, 2011 6:08 p.m.

    How did I know the Halo: Reach meme was coming up. Perfect game to do it, too.
  • Plan10FromOuterSpace - October 12, 2011 3:51 a.m.

    has someone made an actually meme for it, coz that would be pretty cool? xD
  • bebl09 - October 11, 2011 5:23 p.m.

    You mean to say this is as good as Halo: Reach!?!?!???? (See db1331, you still can)
  • db1331 - October 11, 2011 5:09 p.m.

    Damn. I was hoping it would get a 9 just so we could trot out the Halo Reach meme.
  • bloodraven - October 11, 2011 5:08 p.m.

    I can totally see myself playing this when no one is around. Turn up some music and no one will ever know! Oh yeah, how much better then Halo: Reach is it?
  • TheFabricOfTime - October 11, 2011 4:06 p.m.

    Yeah, it sure does suck that I'm not 5.

Showing 1-15 of 15 comments

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