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Sesame Street ABC

I don’t really know how to rate this game. While a wonderful teaching tool for children, or at least I imagine it is, it wasn’t really an enjoyable experience for this reviewer. The basic idea behind the game is this: the Sesame Street Puppets are all down at the amusement park, and they need your help learning their ABC’s and other fundamental tasks. The emphasis however is on the fun part of fundamental. It’s very encouraging to the children, and it’s shown in how the game deals with mistakes and rewards successes. Unlike in most games, instead of punishing you and making you restart, if you happen to choose the wrong letter, the game simply places it back and you’re given another shot. Once you complete whatever task you’re currently trying to complete, such as matching two lower case letters or spelling simple words like “big,” Cookie Monster and Bert come out and celebrate for you by dancing. After that, there’s even a little fireworks display in the sky.

Of course, to me this was nothing more than a mocking from two under-animated puppets. But, to a small child, I’m absolutely sure that this would be encouragement to learn, and as a learning tool, Sesame Street ABC works wonderfully. Inside, children will find a wealth of basic knowledge that will be some of the most important skills they can learn in their lives to come, such as letter recognition and being able to complete the spelling of unfinished words. All of the modes work well and do a good job at it, except there are some minor flaws. In the mode I mentioned just before, completing the spelling of unfinished words, I had to figure out which letter fit after “CO.” Of the six letters to choose from, there were B, D, and G. I had to choose with of the three the game wanted, and hoped that it would recognize “COB,” “COD” and “COG” as words, but unfortunately the primitive title would only accept one. Also, some minor interface problems plague the game, such as the apparent inability to go back and select the alternate mode once you make a selection.

The alternate mode of the game is titled “Ernie’s Big Splash,” which is the worst part of the title. It involves you moving a rubber-duck through the level to get it ultimately to Ernie. This involves moving the duck in a series of arrows around to get to him. However, one mistake and it’s over. It’s not nearly as encouraging, but I suppose it teaches children essential problem solving skills.

Graphically, you can’t really expect much from a game like this. Educational games today are still lagging behind the rest of the games industry in terms of graphics, and Sesame Street ABC may very well be the cause of this. The graphics are fairly primitive and basic, with just a few simple animations to go around. The particle effects for the fireworks display are similarly pathetic, but they do get the job done and are recognizable at least. The most graphically impressive feature is the easily recognizable cast of characters from the long-running television series.

Overall, I really can’t rate this as a bad title simply because I didn’t enjoy it. If I did, I would be taking away some of the worth of this very good educational tool. While it might not be much to look at, it would do a fantastic job as a teaching aid to a child who wants to learn. If you’ve still got an NES and you’ve got some kids, pick up this game to teach them some skills.

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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