Category Archives: Reviews

Game Review: Kinect Sesame Street TV

My daughter is just starting to get into more advanced video games. She is a few months beyond two-years. Up until now she mostly played around with smart phone and tablet games aimed at toddlers, like interactive books or musical games.

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She finally seems to get how to use the Microsoft Xbox’s Kinect now.

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Besides a few games she has interacted with mostly on accident, there was nothing designed with her in mind.

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Then, along with Sesame Street, Microsoft released what they called an “interactive TV show,” Kinect Sesame Street TV. There are 8 shows per season, and Season 1 is out now. The shows play almost exactly like a normal episode of Sesame Street except that there are interactive moments throughout the show. These aren’t just quick interactive gimmicks either.

Each episode is sort of hosted by a new monster named Cooper. He has a friend named “Mirror” that really is a mirror, but with the Kinect it actually shows the person who is playing. Cooper interacts with the player in multiple ways, like the way he changes into a matching shirt (at least by color.)

In one episode, my daughter got to play catch with Elmo and in another she got to help Grover shake some items out of a tree.

There are also your standard Sesame Street skits in the middle of the episode dealing with the episode’s theme. The interactive part in this is to point out the special item of the day and try to find them all. My daughter usually got bored during these parts, but she already does that with normal Sesame Street due to her two-year-old attention span.

I think almost any child that understand the interactivity of the Kinect would enjoy these TV shows. Though, the older kids would probably get more out of it.

The volumes are $29.99 and you can buy them at your local game store or online at the Microsoft Store or Amazon. If you have older kids, Microsoft also has an interactive season of National Geographic episodes. Eight more episodes of Sesame Street in Season 2 were released on January 7th, 2013.

CD Review: Justin Roberts – Lullaby

Justin Roberts LullabyAnd The Song Goes:
don’t you worry I’m following right behind
‘cause if you’re caught in who knows where
then I’ll be your polar bear

CD: Lullaby
Artist: Justin Roberts
Audience: Humans
Sounds Like: Justin Roberts channeling James Taylor and Van Morrison.
Random Thought: If Coca-Cola doesn’t offer Roberts a boatload of cash to use “Polar Bear” in their  Super Bowl polar bear commercials, they’re fools.
Tweet Sized Review: Justin Roberts makes a bad ass 70’s soft-rock Lullaby record.

I doubted Justin Roberts. A lullaby record from the guy who rocks out like no other from the family music set? I second guessed it and should have known better. The Dan Wilson of the family music scene can simply do no wrong. Lullaby is his ode to 70’s soft rock giants James Taylor, Van Morrison and others. Forget those annoying Rockabye Baby CDs, this is how a lullaby record should sound. This is how a lullaby record needs to sound.

Justin Roberts was the first ever Kindie artist I heard. Back in 2009 I was sitting with my two week old daughter listening to Music Choice on my TV and I was 30 seconds away from turning the kids channel off because they were playing something awful. But I decided to wait for the next song. “Song for You” by Justin Roberts was the next song. I downloaded the track about 2 minutes later.  The song and moment has stuck with me ever since. Had I been less patient, I may have never found the kindie music world.  I love kindie music because it helps create moments for our family that I’ll always remember. Whether I’m in the car with my daughter dancing in our seats to Lucky Diaz or The Pop Ups, its all about creating those special moments.

The morning my second daughter was born in October of this year, I had an email with a link to listen to Lullaby. We, as in my wife  & daughters, sat around my iphone and listened to a stream of the record from start to finish. It was one of those moments that will stick with me forever.

Mr. Roberts doesn’t take the easy route. Many albums are produced and recorded at a pretty bare bones/rapid pace by  artists today. Voice, guitar, hit ‘record’ and be done. The days of “Big Budget” records are gone. Except in Justin’s world. And we as listeners get to reap the rewards. The sound on this record is impeccable. Roberts and producer Liam Davis have created a ridiculously lush sound for this album. Horns, harps, plus strings from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, they pay attention to all the little details that take an album from being good to being great. Lullaby has no business being so damn compelling. Frankly, it’s the one and only time I’ll ever call a lullaby record, bad ass. But it’d be a shame to call it anything else.

So Justin Roberts, I’m sorry for doubting you. I won’t let it happen again.

If you don’t have this record set for your child’s stocking, do it right now there is still time. It’s practically a gift for yourself.

BONUS – Audio geeks! The album is being released on 180 gram vinyl early in 2013!

DVD Review: My Little Pony – Friendship is Magic: Royal Pony Wedding (Plus: Win a Copy!)

Here’s the deal, fathers. If you have daughters—or sons who don’t care about outmoded gender roles (and if so, good on you, man)—there is a 90 percent chance that at some point during your day, you’re going to have to watch something with unicorns in it. The key is to find a unicorn-based entertainment which your picky-as-to-unicorns children and you, a reasonable adult, can watch together and enjoy as much as possible.

It’s actually not that hard. My Little Pony – Friendship is Magic: Royal Pony Wedding comes out on DVD from SHout! Kids on August 7. A two-hour length special miniseries of five episodes from the shockingly popular, actually pretty hip and funny The Hub channel’s 2010 reboot of the fanciful ’80s series, it’s both unicorn heavy (the way MLP always should have been!) and high on the drama.

Reflecting and condensing the recent English royal wedding fervor for children, the plot concerns Shining Armor’s impending nuptials to Cadance, the well-heeled niece of Princess Celestia. Shining Armor’s sister is, of course, Twilight Sparkle, so this marriage is one of romance, but also at least somewhat politically motivated, as this royal marriage will certainly consolidate power and join two of the most powerful families in the city-state of Ponyville. It’s also worth mentioning that these are some great unicorn names.

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There are songs, rainbow-haired unicorns in wedding dresses, and lots and lots and lots of pink.

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It’s kind of ridiculous, but totally fun. Shout Kids! has graciously offered us up a giveaway: a brand-new DVD of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Royal Pony Wedding. If you think you’ve got the pony magic to bring this one home for you or your kids, leave a comment below.

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A random respondent wins! Dadnabbit is magic!

NOTE: Contest is now closed.