Elmo's ABCs is an educational video game released for the Gameboy Colour. This edutainment title came out in America back in March 1999 and was brought over to Europe two years later... trust me it was not worth the wait. As the game's title and box art suggests the game stars Elmo the popular red Sesame Street puppet. I personally don't see what his appeal is. Elmo comes across as an annoying children's character much like Barney the Dinosaur. Give me Bert & Ernie, the Cookie Monster or Count von Count any day.
The game starts with Elmo entering a theme park. Rather than enjoy the rides or munch on some candy floss (no need to worry about rotting your teeth as he doesn't have any) our fuzzy pal decides to somersault into a nearby tent. From there he tries to teach kids about letters using his juggling skills and a number of colourful balls each with a different letter printed on them. There are a number of mini games available to play, but they all boil down to the same thing. Watch the gormless Elmo juggle and press a button when the ball with the letter you need to pick reaches the bottom of the screen.
From the game's title I figured that Elmo would be teaching kids the alphabet, but none of the games on offer do that. Most of the mini games merely consist of showing the player a letter and then asking the hapless chump, who got this as a gift, to press the A button when the corresponding ball gets juggled to the correct position. The more complex games show you basic words which you spell out using the same button pushing mechanic. The only min-games which require any degree of intelligence are the ones which show you a word with a letter missing. Instead of just matching what you are shown you actually have to think which of the juggled letters fits the blank to create a valid word.
I may not be the game's target audience (although some people would say I am more immature than the average toddler) but I can tell that this title has no educational value whatsoever. If a child is smart enough to use a Gameboy they are hardly going to be challenged by tasks provided. Games like these are supposed to teach you something by making learning fun instead of a chore, unfortunately the gameplay is so poor that most youngsters would prefer going to a classroom over giving this a go. It's frustrating having to wait for the ball you need to get juggled down as everything moves so slowly. It would have been nice to have the option to speed up the ball rotation by using the d-pad, but I guess the developers felt that controls that ask you to use more than one button is too demanding for kiddies.
The quality of the presentation is horrendous. The in game music is painful to listen to and loops over and over driving you insane, much like listening to Elmo speak for more than a few minutes. The graphics are drawn well and are colourful, utilising the GBC's palette to its maximum effect, but the animation is terrible. Cut scenes move at a laughable one frame per second and don't get me started on the unconvincing "juggling." It is hard to describe, but it looks like Elmo is flailing his arms in the air performing a satanic ritual to summon some invisible demon that is making the balls spin around in mid air.
Kids might be willing to endure the tedious games if they get a worthwhile reward for their efforts, but alas you get nothing. Completing the mini-games shows Elmo playing one of those test of strength games. I'm impressed that he can swing the mallet hard enough to ring the bell given his scrawny arms. The sad thing is that it doesn't matter which of the games you complete, they all show the same clip of Elmo playing the test of strength. Couldn't they have at least made different cut scenes for each game showing Elmo doing different things at the fair? Talk about lazy programming. Test of strength? This game is a test of patience.
Needless to say I do not recommend Elmo's ABCs to anyone. Prior to writing this review I thought I would read up on what some owners of the cartridge thought of it. My favourite comment on the product, taken from Amazon, came from a lady who claimed that her daughter would scream and smash the Gameboy on the floor whenever she suggested giving the game a go. I can certainly empathise with the child's sentiments as I felt the exact same way whilst playing it. Wow so this is what my life has come down to. Playing terrible games to earn a few crummy points to qualify for an Amazon voucher. I need a cookie to cheer up, but I fear that Elmo's blue monster pal has eaten them all.
"Elmo's ABCs" is an educational title based on the hit television series "Sesame Street". In this game, Elmo, one of the main characters of the programme, teaches basic literacy and spelling skills through the use of letters.
"Elmo's ABCs" is very much a "one trick pony". Gameplay is set within a sort of carnival background and features the Elmo character juggling a set of letters. Depending on the game, for example if the player is required to spell a word or match a designated letter, the player would press "A" at the appropriate moment; when this letter has reached the bottom of the juggling arc. If correct, the player will be shown an animation of Elmo using a mallet on a test of strength type game but will require additional "strength" through matching more letters or completing words. After three successful games, Elmo will have "built up" the required strength to use his mallet forcefully and hit the bell at the top of the pole. This signals the end of the game.
Graphics are good though this game does not require full details and enhancements. Nonetheless, "Elmo's ABCs" makes great use of a wide range of colours and fills the screen with numerous different tints and shades. I personally did not enjoy the use of audio in this title as the musical compositions are somewhat fast for the slower pace in which the "juggling" of letters is seen.
"Elmo's ABCs" is brief duration wise and offers a very basic insight for a child learning the English language. It would likely only be suitable for early years who are beginning to learn short words or noticing the difference between capital and lower case letters.