Why on earth would you want to buy a Sesame Street game that’s clearly aimed towards kids? I can hear you thinking. Because there are surprisingly entertaining and excellent Muppet-alike games out there. Of course I’m talking about The Muppet CD-ROM: Muppets Inside—it even contains a DOOM map pack called The Kitchen Of Doom where you as the Swedish chef have to fight off angry vegetables:
Elmo in Grouchland is everything Muppets Inside isn’t. It’s not funny, not pleasant to play through, has little variation (unless you count the amount of over-saturated color usage to convince you you’re really, really playing a Game Boy Color game here!), and no decent game length. For
€6 on the second hand market, I kind of expected something like this, but couldn’t resist trying anyway. I accidentally came across this game for the first time in a retrospective video on Who Framed Roger Rabbit and thought huh, that looks cool. Yeah, that’s about it.
According to Mobygames, Bonsai Interactive also made Barbie Super Model for DOS, Genesis/MegaDrive and SNES. That explains it! There are two more Game Boy Color Elmo games: Elmo’s 123s and Elmo’s ABCs. After that, Mobygames' entries end, but their official website lists a few more obscure GBC games.
Grouchland itself fits neatly into the Elmo lineup: it’s extremely easy, extremely colorful, and extremely short. Like, ten minutes short. Each level requires about a minute of going from left to right (sometimes bottom or top, too!). Before you even properly begin exploring a level, it ends and you’re greeted with an intro screen for the next one. This is without a doubt the shortest GB game I ever played. There’s a hard difficulty option, and even that could not be called a challenge.
Bonsai clearly tried to make the graphics pop to appeal to a younger audience, and I must say it’s pleasant enough to the eye, especially compared to so many other shoddy jobs out there on the Color. That said, this is a shoddy job too, even as a gift for a six-year old. They’ll likely breeze through this even faster than me.
There are a few obstacles to avoid and a few hard to see diamond shapes to collect to increase your score, but overall, I had little sense of what was going on, except that Elmo lost his blanket, and we had to get after it. Turns out it tumbled into a sewer, traveled through “Grouchland”, and ultimately was left hanging on a helicopter? At least the jump mechanics aren’t as bad as in Tom and Jerry, but it doesn’t help that you barely need them.
The only other positive thing I can say about the game is that it’s cheap. If you want your kid to grow up in a nostalgic rush of the nineties with a Game Boy, please do not buy this game for them. If you’re looking for a simple and cheerful platformer, take a look at Kirby’s Dreamland instead.