You know a platform like Windows 8 is hitting the mainstream when the high-profile kids games starting showing up. The dinky little ones with crappy artwork and design come first, followed by professional games starring popular characters. Characters like Elmo and the cast of Sesame Street, for instance!
Elmo Loves ABCs definitely falls into the professional category, as it's an extremely robust learning game for the preschool and kindergarten crowd. The game is available now as a premium Windows 8 and RT app. Head past the break for our quick impressions!
Introducing the alphabet
The main interface in Elmo Loves ABCs is a window surrounded by the letters of the alphabet. Within that window, authentic live-action clips of Elmo and the Sesame Street gang will guide young players through the basics of the English alphabet.
After selecting a letter, Elmo's voice will instruct children to trace the uppercase and lowercase versions of that letter. Having successfully filled in both versions of the letter, the app will display three photos of things that start with that letter. Tap one and a short video featuring the object or person will play in the main window.
Kids can take a break from the letter learning by moving a slider on the right of the window to the crayon icon. This launches coloring mode, in which budding artists can draw on a blank canvas using 11 colors. There aren't any tools beyond finger painting, but the game does let kids save their pictures by tapping the save icon.
Move the slider to the bottom position (a magnifying glass) to play hide and seek with the selected letter. The window will be covered in objects like balloons for kids to clear away. Swipe at the clutter enough and the three objects that start with the target letter will be revealed. A decent minigame, but the performance is a little slow on the original Surface RT.
More fun features
Tap the gear at the bottom-left corner of the screen to access a few additional modes and features. There are four alphabet-related songs with videos to sing along with, including the traditional Alphabet Song.
Move the awkward little slider beside the video icons to the right and you'll launch a more advanced letter game. Elmo will ask your child to select the correct letter or object starting with that letter from a field of four choices. It's sort of like a quiz for kids who have already picked up some of their letters.
Elmo Loves ABCs is a great learning game for Windows tablet and PC users. Although the menus are on the clunky side, the art design and activities are all bright and intuitive. Kids who love Sesame Street (as they should!) will have a blast studying their letters and watching Elmo, Cookie Monster, Kermit, and other Sesame Street characters in the included videos.
Those videos do result in a fairly hefty file size, which might explain why Sesame Workshop hasn't published the game on Windows Phone. But if your kid is the right age for the material and has access to a Windows tablet, Elmo Loves ABCs is worth the download.
- Elmo Loves ABCs – Windows 8 and RT – 704 MB – $4.99 (with trial) – Store Link