This is out on Friday and Double Fine's game is looking good. I happen to have a 4 year old girl who is at the perfect age to enjoy it. So looks like we'll be trying out the drop in / drop out coop together this weekend:
I was curious to see how my four-year-old son would take to the game. After a few afternoons with it, it’s basically all he wants to talk about. I was surprised to see how easily he took to the controls, especially since tasks such as flying via arm flapping and leaning seem so complicated. When he did have trouble, the game didn’t penalize him for it. Rather than punish players who don’t duck out of a low-hanging branch’s way or have poor garbage-chucking aim, Once Upon A Monster focuses on praising successes. It encourages cooperative play through seamless drop-in and out gameplay, and none of the tasks are based on competition — so you don’t have to feel obligated to cut your wee one some slack.
Once Upon A Monster is the educational game I’ve been wanting since I first had kids. It’s approachable and easy for them to grasp, while still remaining enough of a game to keep me engaged, too. If you’re a parent whose kids already know their ABCs, Double Fine’s game is a fantastic way to reinforce often-neglected (but critically important) skills like empathy, responsibility, and friendship. Plus, you can make Grover flap his stringy little blue arms like nobody’s business.
The best activities, though, lead to magical moments befitting this cheery world. Petting shy Puffalopes Kinectimals-style and matching them up with adorable guardian Grrhoof is one highlight; another makes clever use of Kinect’s voice recognition by asking you to describe some small events, then stringing your sound clips into a mini-narrative. In Monster’s finest bits, I turned to my 5-year-old co-op partner and saw a smile that’d melt even the most cynical hearts.
Unless you’re a Sesame Street super-fan, playing alone or with another adult will rob those sequences of their full impact. As with the TV show, kids are clearly the center of Monster’s universe. But for parents seeking a videogame to share with their children, this game offers hours of joy.