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Monday, September 12, 2011

Sesame Street: Ready, Set, Grover! Impression

An interactive game that parents will enjoy letting their kids play

What? Elmo is not the headliner? Indeed this is the case with Sesame Street: Ready, Set, Grover! on the Nintendo Wii … sort of. While the game is titled after Grover, Elmo is front and center on the game case as well as in-game but kids won’t care. Grover, Elmo and Abby guide younger gamers on a Wii adventure full of get-up-and-move mini games that will teach and entertain kids. Having played with twin 3-1/2 year olds, let’s take a look at what RSG has to offer.

Gameplay – Two modes of play are available the first a challenge mode, the second a free play mode accessing all the activities found in Grover’s challenge. Grover’s challenge is made up of the mini-games found in free play, or play games, mode. Stretch with Abby and Grover, jump and duck, catch cans and learning to dance are just a few of the activities found in RSG. The games require only one controller, held sideways, and movements are simple to follow and fun to master. Once younger gamers get the concept there is no stopping them. Jump, duck, count, learn nutrition and hygiene as well as controlling one’s body movements. There are many activities for kids and when taught by Elmo, Grover and Abby, kids pay attention more than they would to an adult trying to show them the same (proven fact folks, proven fact).

Unless it’s absolutely necessary the included Grover slipcover for your Wii-mote is not the best fit. It does not line up as neatly as seen on the box and does not simplify controls as much as touted. Give the young ones in your life some credit that they can target 1 button with 1 number on it from a set of others, but that’s just one fathers opinion.

Graphics – Being a Wii titles the quality is not super to look at especially in HD but these computer generated models of Elmo, Grover and Abby move and act like the puppets they are, meaning they do what they do in the shows. The menus and navigation is bright and vivid full of shapes and colors to help teach and guide. The instruction is easy to see and follow and it feels like an interactive episode of Sesame Street. RSG was not created to set new standards in how games look but what it does deliver is a solid looking kid’s game.

Sound – The characters, in both English and Spanish, deliver instructions with clarity and encouragement with enthusiasm. There is really no background music to touch on and the effect sounds are minimal. The use to two languages is great and offers parents options many games do not.

Design – While there are not hundreds or even tens of games the ones provided do accomplish quite a bit of teaching and having seen young children watch the same episode of educational shows over and over there is no harm in playing the same teaching games over and over. The fact children laugh and have fun while learning is plain awesome and the interaction between on screen characters and the players is quite nice to see. A well designed educational learning game that could spell more life for the Wii and soon to be marked down further Wii systems. Imagine these games in preschool teaching kids the movements but also to share with fellow classmates. When a parent can begin to think of games in the classroom, well that’s good design.

Miscellaneous – The parent’s area is invaluable for its tracking of play time, success rates on games and setting play timers all tied to three available settings. Manage the times invested because even an education game with movement is no substitution for going outside and playing.

Overall the landscape of games for younger gamers is littered with crap (yes, I said it). Many games dumb down kids games and don’t offer true education or fun experiences but that’s not the case with Ready, Set, Grover! Younger gamers get to interact with three of their favorite Sesame Street pals in quick, easy to play and complete mini-games while taking on the same challenges in a story mode with Grover. Seeing how easily two 3-1/2 year olds got in and play, laughed and wanted more is a testament to the games design especially since they’ve never picked up a game of any type before.

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