Title: Tales of Monkey Island Chapter One: "Launch of the Screaming Narwhal"
Developer: Tellltale Games
Also on: Wii (Wiiware)
Ahoy to those stranded bobbing on the waves of the internet! I am Delirious Gamer, mighty...gamer?
Anyhow, the Monkey Island series is one that is brimming with nostalgia and warm-hearted memories for most fans. As such, I want to acknowledge my own experience with the series. Unfortunately, I have never had the privilege of playing the first two entries of the series. My comparisons to past games will be passed solely on the two entries I have played previously, which are Curse of Monkey Island (which I will abbreviate simply to Curse) and the lesser liked Escape from Monkey Island (which I will similarly abbreviate to Escape).
Similar to the beginning of Curse, Tales throws the player straight into the action, having Guybrush solve puzzles on his ship in an attempt to rescue a bound Elaine and finally slay the evil zombie pirate LeChuck, who is currently preparing to reap dark, powerful secrets from a rare type of monkey. Guybrush’s attempt to slay LeChuck with a poorly improvised Cursed Cutlass Kaflu ends badly, however, as his hand is infected with the “Pox of LeChuck” and LeChuck is turned into a mortal once more. As a result of previous puzzle-solving events, the ship explodes and Guybrush is flung into the sea, where he then washes up upon the shore of the dreary Flotsam Island. Guybrush makes it his plan to find and rescue Elaine, vanquish LeChuck, and remove the horrible disease afflicting his hand. Naturally, he manages to do none of these things by the end of the first chapter.
But Guybrush does manage to do a bunch of other stuff. The first chapter of Tales has a large amount of quirky puzzles that Guybrush must solve in order to progress in his overall goal. From pink panties to wind gods, the player must make quite a few logic leaps, some of which are a little obtuse.
Overall, the first chapter isn’t too difficult. Most of the puzzles were straightforward, especially when compared to examples from Curse and Escape. I stumbled upon a few answers accidentally, but I had a solid idea in my head of how to achieve my goal the majority of the time. During my play through, I was only complete befuddled once, at the very end of the chapter. For those of you fearing the game will require too much time and thought, there is also a hint system that can be implemented at a frequency of the players choosing. However, I cannot comment on how useful or subtle this system was, as I turned it completely off. Even with the frequency set to 0, Guybrush still dropped an occasional hint here or there when the game thought I was stuck.
One thing that is not so customizable is the method of controlling Guybrush. Unless I am missing something, I could not find an option to customize controls in the settings. Also, I have mixed feelings of the controls implemented by default. The game suggests controlling Guybrush by using a click-hold-and-point system rather than the simpler and more standard point-and-click. Instead of simply clicking on where you want to go, you are supposed to hold down the left mouse button, which causes a circular graphic to appear around Guybrush. Then, moving the mouse in any direction will move Guybrush in that direction. It is almost like holding the left mouse button turns your mouse into a kind of joystick.
I didn’t find this method of control very intuitive or comfortable. Instead, I used another method which I don’t think the game ever mentioned. If you prefer, you can use the classic WASD setup, with each of the four keys moving Guybrush in cardinal directions. Don’t worry, the keyboard controls are much simpler than Escape from Monkey Island, and you can still use your mouse to investigate objects on the screen as well as navigate your inventory.
The inventory is similar to that of Curse rather than the radial ring from Escape. However, the inventory doesn’t cover the entire screen when opened, which is nice. The new inventory system lets you inspect items by clicking a magnifying class in the left corner and then clicking and item of your choice. It also requires you to plop items into a special section when you want to merge them, rather than simply dropping them on top of each other. The result is less efficient, but more visually appealing.
This could be considered a theme for the new Monkey Island entry, as the game is pretty gorgeous. Unlike Escape, the 3d setting and characters look really nice. Movements are well animated, and models are smooth and detailed. Even the main menu looks nice.
On the other hand, the characters models are a bit limited. Most of the pirates had the same basic model. There is a fat, short pirate model as well as a skinny, tall pirate model. Still, the reuse of character models isn’t annoyingly obvious, as Telltale went out of their way to make each one look unique, blessing them all with different skin tones, facial air, and unique voices. As a result, I never felt like I was talking to the same pirate twice.
All the small details aside, I am sure there is one thing most fans are concerned about – the Monkey Island mojo. Some people wondered whether Telltale Games could really bring forth a game that feels like it belongs to the Monkey Island series. Others worried that the game wouldn’t translate well into 3d (a valid concern after Escape from Monkey Island). Well, let me tell you folks, you can cast your worries aside. Tales from Monkey Island definitely belongs in the series. The monkey magic is there, with every element coming together beautifully. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise with Dave Grossman as head developer, a man who originally worked on the first two Monkey Island games.
9 juicy bananas out of 10
If you are a fan of Monkey Island, BUY THIS GAME!
If you like pirates, BUY THIS GAME!
If you are a fan of Telltale’s other adventure entries, BUY THIS GAME!
If you like wacky puzzles, BUY THIS GAME!
If you like monkeys, BUY THIS GAME!
If you want to help revive this almost dead genre, BUY THIS GAME!
Everyone else, you should still probably by this game, as it is pretty fun. That is, unless you are scared of grog and a bit of puzzle solving.
A demo is available here:
Opening gameplay video available here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Hi, I'm a delirious gamer.
I'm going to be using this blog as a means to dump my thoughts about the various video games I play. I'll give the most honest reviews that I can, making sure to highlight every game's pros and cons.
If you want me to review a specific game, just let me know and I'll put it on my to-do list. I own a PS3, Xbox360, Wii, DS, PSP, as well as a gaming-equipped PC, so pretty much any game is viable for me.
This blog is mainly for personal satisfaction, but thanks if you ever stop by. And thanks even more if you stay for a while.