A few weeks ago I got an opportunity I really couldn’t turn down – I got to go to Microsoft Soho Studios in London and test out a brilliant new way of interacting with my Tv using the Xbox 360 and Kinect.
Me and two other bloggers ( Nova from Cherished by Meand Joanne Mallon, of Opposable Thumbs) were part of a group of bloggers from Tots100 who were lucky enough to have a private session at the studios to teach us all about Xbox Kinect 2 Way Tv Experiences.
2 Way Tv is a really interesting concept. Initially rather than a game it starts off looking like a traditional TV show, but suddenly the show starts talking to you and you in turn can really interact with it. Immediately it evolves from simply something you watch, into something you can actively take part in.
The two games that use this technology that we were shown were Sesame Street TV and Nat Geo TV. We also got given some Microsoft points so we could download them when we got home to see what the rest of the family thought.
Sesame Street TV
Seeing my two boys Watching and playing Sesame Street TV is a real pleasure. I’ve always missed the traditional Sesame Street TV shows that I used to watch when I was growing up. Brilliantly the episodes on Sesame Street Tv are exactly what I’ve been missing from my childhood, but brought slap bang up to date for the current generation of kids.
Being very competent gamers, both Thomas and Jacob are well used to playing Kinect games, and I think when I suggested watching these new Kinect Tv episodes they were expecting the usual character moving around on-screen and copying your movements. They were totally stunned almost immediately when the character asks you to stand in front of the onscreen mirror and changes his t-shirt so it’s the same colour as yours.
This was only the beginning however, they spent the next 20 minutes of the episode throwing things to the characters, shouting answers at the screen, and dancing around in magical Elmo’s world.
The episodes are worth it just for the 5 minutes of Elmo’s world alone. If you’ve ever seen Elmo’s world it’s based around Elmo living in a cartoon house drawn by crayon, very whimsical and simply anything can happen. Somehow the game creators have managed to expertly capture the feel of the show into these sections. It’s so hard to explain what happens, so it’s probably best you watch the video below to see what I mean, but it’s truly magical and definitely my sons favourite part of all the episodes.
There is one main aspect I love about the whole Sesame Street Tv concept the most. It’s exactly like a kids tv show, but 100 times better. Rather than being just a Sesame Street game, it’s really just like a show. You get to know all the segments, all the presenters. First comes the introduction then you’ll have a piece on something, then a song, then Grover, and always Elmo’s World near the end. Having that continuity between all the episodes enhances the whole series so much. Kids love knowing whats coming next, and what to look forward too.
Nat Geo TV
Nat Geo Tv is the same concept as Sesame Street Tv but as it’s aimed for slightly older children its a bit more grown up. Don’t get me wrong it’s lots of fun and you still get to mess around, but this time rather than jumping into Elmo’s World you get to become a bear and pretend your fishing for Salmon.
The shows are much more information filled, and it does feel exactly like your watching a normal Nat Geo documentary with a few of the Kinect photo challenges thrown in.
We found that the Sesame Street TV episodes are great for when the boys are full of beans and ready to get active, but the Nat Geo TV shows are perfect pre bedtime viewing. Theres enough interactive elements to keep even my youngest interested, but the beautiful scenery and wonderful animal helps everyone calm down after a long day.
Out of the two I would say that Sesame Street TV was our favourite , however that is probably due to the younger nature of my children. If you have a wildlife mad son or daughter who loves things like Nat Geo and Deadly 60 then Nat Geo TV would be the best thing ever.
There are two ways that you can get these 2 way tv experiences for yourself, by either downloading or purchasing them on disc.
Like Tv shows Sesame Street TV and Nat Geo TV are released in seasons. There have been 2 seasons of both so far. Season one of both games are available to buy on disc in stores. However it’s easier if you download either the individual episodes or as a Season Pass on your Xbox.
Season 2 of both are only available to download as a Season Pass or individual episodes, not on disc as yet.
The Season Pass’s cost 2400 Microsoft Points, and as mentioned there are 2 seasons of both games available. Individual episodes cost 400 points each, and there is even a free episode of each to try.
If you go for one of the Season passes of Sesame Street TV you also get access to indulge in the massive library of clips from the show. Theres both classic and contemporary clips to enjoy, and it’s much easier to navigate and find great clips than searching on YouTube. You can even stack the clips into a playlist and make your very own episode to watch. My personal favourite clip has to be Ricky Gervais singing the Celebrity Lullaby to Elmo, it had us all in stitches.
I like to think of myself as quite a tech savvy gamer, and up to date with most things, but I have to admit that even though both the Sesame Street TV and Nat Geo TV are both in their second season now, they were totally off my radar. I am so glad I got the opportunity to try them out at the studios, and that I get the chance to let you all know how great an experience they are.
I compel you to try the free episodes out for yourself as it’s really hard to convey how new and original the episodes feel in writing, they simply need to be played.
Thanks to Microsoft Soho Studios and Xbox for having me over for the day, and to Tots100 for making it happen