Monday, November 29, 2010

C is for CC and 'Cookie's Counting Carnival'

When it comes to choosing games for our family-friendly Wii, it's difficult to find ones that fit the small-fry age group. And by small fry, I mean preschool age. Even the most kid-friendly games often require players to be able to read or to master the Wii remote, which sports beaucoup de buttons.

That's why I was so eager to try out the new games from Sesame Street and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment -- "Sesame Street: Cookie's Counting Carnival" and "Sesame Street: Elmo's A-to-Zoo Adventure" -- which are available for the Wii ($39.99) and the Nintendo DS and PC ($29.99).

Both games are specifically made for early childhood players (ages 3+) and even feature a clever and adorable Wii remote cover (Cookie Monster, right; or Elmo, depending on the game) that sports little grip nubs and covers unnecessary buttons. Perfect for little fingers!

When I received a review copy of "Sesame Street: Cookie's Counting Carnival" for the Wii after visiting the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank with other moms of small fries, I was eager to put it to the ultimate test -- my 3-year-old child.

What would CC think? Would the game appeal to her? Would the remote be more distracting than useful? Was this actually a big-kid's game in a fuzzy blue disguise?

"Cookie's Counting Carnival" is simply great for small children, especially ones who are independent and want to show Mom and Dad that they can accomplish electronic feats all by themselves. (*cough* CC *cough*)

The game, which focuses on early math skills such as counting, shape recognition and number identification, is fun and easy to grasp. Characters like Big Bird and Cookie Monster offer simple instructions that are equally simple to follow, such as asking the child to pick the appropriate color ring for the ring toss.

Added bonuses: The game difficulty adjusts to each child's level, and parents can assist with the second Wii remote, if needed.

The motions required for the remote, by the way, were easily mastered by CC, who didn't seem at all distracted by the Cookie cover.

Overall, CC really enjoyed the games, getting excited every time she earned a Golden Cookie. There were, however, a couple of suggestions I would make if I were chatting with the game's programmers:

* It would be great to include actual visual numerals when asking the children to count out items. Not all games on "Cookie's Counting Carnival" offered this, which I think would have been a great opportunity for kids to see the numbers they were saying out loud.

* As much as I love the adorable remote covers, an opening around the sensor would have been ideal. Once Cookie's on the remote, there's no chance of making adjustments on the menu.

Those are minor issues, actually, to what CC and I give two thumbs' up.

If you're interested in purchasing one of the games, L.A. Story readers can receive 10% off by entering the promo code MOMMY at the checkout.

In the meantime, happy gaming!


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