“ Manufacturer: LucasArts / Genre: Adventure Release Date: 2009 „
For years after the release of Escape From Monkey Island, fans of the series were left desperate for more of Guybrush's adventures. Many thought the point-and-click genre would never be returned to and that Monkey Island was dead. But Telltale Games saved the day in 2009 when they released Tales of Monkey Island, a humourous adventure split into five parts. I can't compare this to the other titles in the series because I have never actually played them, but this is a game that stands up on it's own merits. The first episode is a very respectable start, featuring a good story and some tough puzzles that get your mind working. This is by no means excellent, but it's a purchase you won't regret.
Pirate Guybrush Threpwood's hand becomes plagued with the Pox of LeChuck after he plunges his sword into his enemy LeChuck's chest, who then becomes human. Guybrush is then washed out to Flotsam Island, where anyone can get in but the winds are too strong for anyone to get out. With his wife stuck aboard LeChuck's ship, our hero attempts to escape by speaking with Deep Gut, a mysterious character who apparently knows a way out.
Although simple, the story really stands out when you bring together all of Tales of Monkey Island's positive aspects. This chapter is focused on main character Guybrush while other major characters such as his wife Elaine take a smaller role here. In my opinion, this is a good thing because new players can get to know the character of Guybrush much more quickly. The personality of the side characters also comes through quickly because of the great script, showing that Telltale has done a good job in the storytelling area of the game. However, these side characters aren't very memorable and well-written with the exception of the crazy French doctor, de Singe.
In Telltale's previous Sam and Max games, you clicked anywhere on the screen and your character would walk in that direction. However, there are two ways to control your character in Tales of Monkey Island. The first is to hold and drag the mouse near the character to move him. Otherwise, you can use the arrow keys or WASD buttons.
Puzzles heavily involve the combination system, which sees you combining objects you have picked up to make new ones. For example, the start of the game sees you trying to make the Cutlass of Kaflu to kill LeChuck. For it you need fizzy root beer and a sword. The root beer isn't fizzy, so you combine the fizzy mints in your pocket with the root beer to make fizzy root beer, which you then combine with your current cutlass to make the Cutlass of Kaflu. This is probably the simplest puzzle in the game, though, and the other ones require a lot more thinking. The combination system, overall, is a great little feature which sets the game apart from other adventure/point-and-click games.
However, some of the puzzles aren't up to the standard of the ones in Telltale's other games. The jungle maze sticks in my mind as being one of the worst sections of this chapter. You have a treasure map which guides you to the treasure using animal faces. I thought at first this meant nothing and that you had to guess where to go, because I was quite confused. Then I realised that you had to stand next to the different paths and listen for which animal made a noise. If the map showed a monkey, you would have to listen for the familiar 'oo-oo-aa-aa' of a monkey. This kind of puzzle is a bit basic for a point-and-click game and has been used before in other games anyway.
Tales of Monkey Island is a great looking title, and has a unique style to it that really matches the theme of the game. The beginning of the game, set aboard a ship on a dark, stormy night. This bit uses lots of weather effects such as thunder to make a more realistic, epic scene. Flotsam Island, however, displays lots of colour, something that you don't see a lot of in games today. The visuals are also quite detailed, too. It looks really good, and you don't even need a high-spec computer for it.
The sound is also a strong aspect of the game. Dominic Armato voices Guybrush, and does a fantastic job. There is also some voice acting from Alexandra Boyd as Elaine, and Adam Harrington as LeChuck. They all bring out the pirate inside and do some great work. Don't expect loud, memorable music like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean. Instead, the music here is quite a lot calmer. It isn't that memorable to me, but is pretty good while you're hearing it.
Overall, Tales of Monkey Island Chapter One is a good game, and is a great debut. I'm sure many will really like it and while it may not be adored as the original Monkey Island games were, fans of the series will enjoy this funny adventure that will stick with you for a while after playing it. The story starts of great, and develops even further as you get through. Although some of the puzzles aren't that well thought-out, others will get you thinking hard. The unique combining system plays a huge part in most of the puzzles and it's a nice change from what's normal in the genre. The graphics will also catch your eye - this is one of the best looking point-and-click games I've ever seen, and you may take a minute to stop and stare at the beautiful Flotsam Island. Voice acting is also very good, and while the music may not stick in your mind for long, it is great while it lasts. Overall, fans of the genre will think it's fantastic, and new players should give it a try.
Thanks for reading! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to start Chapter Two.
With a nine year absence from the games industry, Monkey Island seemed dead. That was until E3 2009 when not only was a remake of the first game announced, but also Tales of Monkey Island, a new game in the series that would be released episodically. 'Launch of the Screaming Narwhal' is the first chapter of five, which collectively make up Tales of Monkey Island.
First, let's get the boring bits out of the way with the system requirements:
Processor - 2GHz (3 recommended)
RAM - 512MB (1GB recommended)
Video Card - 64MB (128MB recommended)
DirectX 9 or better
They aren't high system requirements and are perhaps indicative of the graphics. For those without technical knowledge you certainly won't require a gaming PC to run this game, and for those unsure a demo can be found on the Telltale website listed below. Don't expect any fancy graphics then since they seem more PS2-era than modern but the Monkey Island games have never been about graphics. They haven't aimed for realism and the graphics have a nice cartoony feel, full of vibrant colours.
On the story side of things, a lot of time has passed between the events of Escape from Monkey Island and Tales. LeChuck, back once again, has kidnapped Elaine. Holding a monkey in his hands and claiming it will grant him voodoo powers; Guybrush makes an impromptu voodoo weapon and stabs his foe. Instead of defeating him once and for all however, LeChuck is turned human. A fight ensues and Guybrush winds up on Flotsam Island where the winds prevent anyone from leaving. A journalist is willing to help you, though you'll have to help him first, and the fifth adventure of Guybrush Threepwood begins.
From the beginning it all feels rather familiar. Find some treasure, acquire a ship and start a fight. The first two are required in the first Monkey Island game, which feels a rather cheap way to introduce us to the new series. Unlike the first game however, you won't be struggling with the puzzles. Logic is always looked for in a good point and click game and in Tales you won't find an illogical puzzle. You won't find much of a puzzle though as everything seems rather easy - nothing will stump you for more than a few minutes. Unfortunately it seems symptomatic of the point and click genre with no Telltale games pushing the limits with puzzles as with the classics, possibly because Telltale aren't in the business of making classics. One puzzle for example requires you to break an unbreakable glass bottle. Gone are the days however where you would wander around the island using your inventory piece against every clickable item, because speak to one of the few people on the island and you'll be told he has just the item you need. The puzzle isn't solved of course - you still need to find a way to get this item, though the puzzle is made unnecessarily simple because of the dialogue. It's an example of Telltale being too cautious in design, not wanting to scare people away from a genre that used to be challenging. Or possibly Telltale could be easing us into Tales of Monkey Island, which is a problem with reviewing episodic games. A hint system is in place for those who do get stuck, which makes the easy puzzles even more questionable.
Next on the hit list are the characters. Thankfully Telltale has done a wonderful job bringing Guybrush back. Voiced by Dominic Armato, he contains all the loveable charm that was apparent in the previous games. The brilliant sense of humour - a mixture of innocence and innuendo, and misplaced arrogance allow Guybrush to be as good as ever. The same goes for Elaine. LeChuck has a weird laugh due to being voiced by Adam Harrington instead of Earl Boen though aside from that his character holds up well. The problem is the other characters - there's not a memorable one between them. The antagonist of the plot, Marquis De Singe has few interesting qualities and the remainder of the side-cast seem to be nothing more than human-shaped information centres that can help further the plot. Telltale do a great job with already developed characters though ask them to build a new personality and they fail. The side-characters are all based on two models - short and chubby or tall and thin - which becomes obvious extremely fast.
Two important aspects of the Monkey Island series remain - the humour and the music. The music is as memorable as ever, providing an adventurous piratey theme, and thanks to the strength of the main characters the humour is as good as ever. The dialogue trees allow for a decent range of responses (meaning you may want to play through the game more than once) and the opening cutscene really does have the Monkey Island atmosphere.
Back to the negatives again however. The island feels pretty small to explore, though this is most likely a result of the episodic gameplay which will require each new episode to have a different environment and won't be as noticeable if you play the full game. What is noticeable however is the pretty dire interface. Hold down the left button to move around, which feels like you are dragging Guybrush more than controlling him, so moving around with the keyboard is preferred. There is no verb interface this time and everything is done with one button. This of course streamlines the game though doesn't allow for so much fun being able to examine everything. The inventory is fine though the ability of merging items feels clunky, though it's a small complaint.
Overall, it's a decent start to Tales of Monkey Island but not the start to be hoped for. The numerous Monkey Island references and similar puzzle ideas are fine for the first chapter though if it carries on to the other chapters I can imagine it getting old. Point and click fans just have to accept that the genre has gotten easier. The secondary characters are poor though the main characters will make up for it - the series has always been about Guybrush and the humour is still there, which is vital for the quality of the game. The game really borders between 3 and 4 stars so I'll be generous and give is a 4 star since it is the first chapter.
Tales of Monkey Island can be purchased on PC, Wii and PS3. The entire game is available on Steam for £25 though if you just want to try out the first episode it is available on the Telltale website for $8.99.
Note: A similar review (not the same) has also been posted on The Third Schism website (by me).
After being a fan of Monkey Island since it's first release on the Amiga, i was really looking forward to this release as there has not been a new Monkey Island game for several years now! I downloaded this game on the Wii via the online store where it is in the WiiWare section, which cost me 1000 points. The design of the characters is yet again different from the previous Monkey Island games, but not in a bad way as the graphics are very good and it still has the same feel to it as the other games in the series. The voices of the characters are also more or less the same too. The game begins with Guybrush trying to save Elaine from the mighty pirate LeChuck and follows on from there when Guybrush is left stranded on an island and sets off in search of a way to get back to Elaine and defeat LeChuck. Much like other Monkey Island games you have to talk to various characters along the way and interact and combine objects to work your way through the various puzzles of the game. I have yet to complete this chapter, but i would definitely recommend this game to others. Whether you are a fan of the series or you have never played Monkey Island before, there's plenty of adventure, actions, jokes and puzzles to keep you occupied for hours!
Everyones favorite mighty pirate Guybrush Threepwood is back in the Tales of Mokney Island. The Launch of the Screaming Narwhal is the first of the 5 chapters each of which will be released in a months time. The monkey island game started of in 2d years ago and has seen progress into the cartoon stage as well as the 3D phase. This game though shown to have better graphics has kept the cartoony structure we all love and adore and fits in nicely with the funny theme of the game
The game focuses on the good for nothing yet loved by all pirate as he tries to rescue his wife from the ghost/demon/zombie pirate lechuck. However things go wrong and guybrush causes the voodoo magic to become a plague all throughout infecting pirates everywhere. This and the fact that he is on an island where the wind always blows inwards causes a dilemma. The first chapter mainly deals with commandeering a ship and escaping the island.
The gameplay is different from most games where you have to speak to various characters, collect items and combine them in the hopes of getting things done. The witty comedy is the main focus of the game where you will spend a good time just chuckling at guybrushs comments or the situation he gets himself into
The music is quite nice and never bores as well as excellent voice acting. The levels are designed well and a subtle hint section is in place which will edge the player towards completing the goal. The game doesnt take long with roughly 4-6 hours of gameplay after which you have to wait for the next chapter.
Its been a long wait for monkey island fans everywhere and is nice to relive the glory and troubled days of guybrush threepwood mighty pirate
While the humble point-and-click adventure was thought to have died many years ago, hardcore fans have long kept the faith, and they've now been rewarded with a reignited interest in the genre. Still, if you'd told them during those wilderness years that one day there'd be a new installment in the most revered adventure series of all time there'd have been few, if any, who'd have believed you.
And yet here we are, with Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, the first episode in a five part series developed by Telltale Games and the first Monkey Island game in nine years. Guybrush Threepwood - mighty pirate - returns, along with his beloved wife Elaine and the nefarious undead pirate LeChuck, in a comedy tale of voodoo and high-seas adventure.
We join Guybrush as he concludes another adventure, having gathered together the ingredients needed to create a voodoo-powered cutlass with which he can finally destroy LeChuck for good and rescue Elaine who, once again, LeChuck has kidnapped. However, things go typically wrong and Guybrush finds himself seperated from Elaine and washed up on Flotsam Island, an island where the winds blow constantly inwards, preventing escape. Not only that, but Guybrush's hand has become possessed by LeChucks scary voodoo power. His task, therefore, is simple - comandeer
a ship, figure out how to fix the winds and get the hell off the island.
The prologue section during which Guybrush confronts LeChuck aboard his ship with the voodoo cutlass also serves as an introduction to the new control method. Gone are the verb sheets of old, replaced by a one-click-does-everything approach to object use, and a slightly unweildy interface for combining items in your inventory. Movement has undergone a huge change too: holding down the left mouse button brings up a "movement wheel", and moving the mouse cursor on the wheel makes Guybrush walk in that relative direction. It's an irritating solution that feels like a fudge, and you'll probably find yourself turning to the backup keyboard controls.
The prologue-slash-tutorial is a neat idea, but is executed poorly. The camera lurches as the ships toss on the heaving ocean and switches angles several times - it might be cinematic, but when you're trying to introduce a largely bodged control method having the viewpoint constantly change is a bad idea. This section isn't particularly long or difficult, but I struggled massively with one puzzle - not because it was tough, but because Guybrush refused to walk to a certain part of the screen so many times that I discounted it as a useful location when in fact it contained an essential puzzle object. Thankfully, once you hit Flotsam Island things sort themselves out somewhat. The control method remains unweildy, but thankfully there's more room to move around.
Thankfully the puzzles are better. None of them are hugely difficult, but there are a couple of headscratchers which require a little more thought. This being the first episode of a series, with a runtime of only around three hours, there's not a lot of time for Guybrush to stuff his pockets full of wacky inventory items, but there are a couple of great set-pieces, including an excellent sequence that sees Guybrush attempting escape from the operating table of an insane surgeon. One or two puzzles are perhaps a little obscure, and the recycling of a map puzzle feels a little cheap, but in general this side of the game is fine.
The problems are really with the sense of humour, which is something of a surprise since Monkey Island's writing is usually its strong point. And sure enough, there are some great moments. Guybrush's voodoo-infected hand is a good source of slapstick, and some of the incidental animation is funny on its own, but the new characters are largely awful - the one interesting new character, the aforementioned insane surgeon, is let down by terrible voicework. In fact, apart from Guybrush himself (voiced by returning vocal performer Dominic Armato) and the other regular characters, the voicework here is pretty poor. Having a reporter with a broad "New Yoik" accent grates on the nerves and doesn't seem to fit with the character of the series.
And that's where my biggest complaint lies. The first Monkey Island games were funny because they were just plain daft. The humour was silly and internally consistent - it was a nonsensical version of the Caribbean which bore a resemblance to the real world but based its humour purely upon its own wacky rules. Then came the much maligned fourth game Escape From Monkey Island, which featured a plotline about the commercialisation of the Caribbean and loads of unsubtle and unfunny pop-culture jokes. It turned a fantastical romp into a heavy-handed satire, and while Tales of Monkey Island doesn't make quite the same mistakes it still features lame puns about YouTube and Dora the Explorer, real-world references which feel out of place and simply aren't funny.
The production values are a similarly mixed bag. Real care has been taken over the look of the main characters, with Guybrush, Elaine, LeChuck and the Voodoo Lady all translating brilliantly into TellTales cartoony graphic style. The supporting cast fare less well. Of the six other characters you'll meet in this episode three of them use exactly the same basic character model - apparently the developers felt that giving them different hats (and one of them a darker skintone) was enough to fool us into thinking they were completely unique. There's also only one interior location on the island - the inside of the Voodoo Lady's shack. In fairness this allows the writers to riff on one of the best jokes in the original Monkey Island, but it means that the town feels less like a real place and more like a fake set from a budget cowboy movie.
It's a shame, because in some departments Tales of Monkey Island is an unqualified success - the music from original composer Michael Land is great, Armato's voicework is spot-on and lots of the incidental art is excellent. There are some genuinely funny lines and, in terms of length, this feels like Telltale's most substantial offering yet. But there are some poor lines too, and some rotten character designs. This isn't a bad game by any means, but there are enough disappointing moments to mean that this isn't the glorious return some of us were hoping for.
After a nine-year hiatus, Monkey Island is back, bringing its unique wit, puzzles and characters along too.
Launch of the Screaming Narwhal is the first of five downloadable chapters which will be released monthly, and is a completely new adventure for Guybrush Threepwood unlike The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition released at roughly the same time.
Gameplay and puzzles are at their usual high standard, with the right mixture of clever but obvious to the tricky but hilarious, as Guybrush tries to escape from an island despite strong winds mysteriously constantly blowing inland.
Players may want to take note of the hints option in the game's setting menu before playing, as it is on a high level as default, meaning Guybrush may tell you what to do before you've had a chance to think for yourself.
The chapter's cliff-hanger ending certainly leaves you wanting more, and after a good few hours of play, feels much better value than that of an episode from the Sam and Max games of the same 'point and click' genre.
Why not download the demo first at http://www.telltalegames.com/monkeyisland where you can also buy it.