Storybook Workshop, an interactive reading game, features a 16 storybook collection including "Little Red Riding Hood," "The Ugly Duckling," "The Golden Goose," "Three Wishes," "The Town Musicians of Bremen," and "Be Kind to the Earth."
Players can hear the computer tell the stories or record their own version using several audio options. The overall recording functions are a great way to experience basic reading sessions, test reading/speech skills (via the recordings), or hear distant family members and friend recordings any time. The background music can often drown out vocal recordings, so keep the microphone close to the mouth to avoid needing to rerecord the tales.
You use the USB compatible microphone to record the stories with an approximate 40 minutes of total storage maximum. This does limit you to keeping only about four or five story recordings. The included microphone may make the entire package more attractive to some as it can be used with more than just this title. In fact, as it is USB it can connect to other consoles as well.
Players can also transform their voice into one of several story characters using the Magic Voice Box. An optional two player option, mini-games, and four classic children's sing-along songs provide more entertainment. Special bonuses include player Mii incorporation into certain stories (this can be unlocked by reading a story several times).
The host character, which resembles a walking TV, guides players through the most challenging game element, the four room treehouse. The controls work acceptably well and players can select the + button to pause, but the accessible areas and overall interface needs improvement. Developers miss some theme and intuitive application opportunities here. The Grape, Acorn, Orange, and Apple rooms are accessed through doors, but younger players may have problems here as there seems to be no distinct theme/framework for them to intuitively work out what in the treehouse does what. Common sense icons (books, microphones, mic/paint combinations, etc.) would have worked better in a front view navigation system where players in first person view could rotate to view and eventually open doors in a larger, more readable form.
The Grape Room contains the settings and character selection while The Acorn Room has tutorials and the Reading Report Card. This last item represents the only notable measurable scoring aspect in the game. The Orange Room features the basic story options, Mii story options and reading recordings for playback later. The Apple Room contains a voice changer, story quizzes, and sing along songs for up to four players total. This room also features a special “voice painting” mode where players use their voice to create artwork. It would have been great to save voice paintings individually, instead they eventually appear in a mirror-like picture frame at the back of the room as a combination of the paint splattering and cut out shapes.
This game has great potential, but the sloppy interface and limited creative functions culminate as an interesting start instead of a complete game experience. The audio and character customization increase the replay value, but players all too quickly reach the point where they can do little more. The limited replay value needs more creative licenses and functions for players in future incarnations. Kids and parents could easily create their own stories using existing story characters with an expanded editing feature as well.
Storybook Workshop is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for mild cartoon violence.