In a gaming world dominated by slick HD graphics and fast-paced, action-packed combat, the adventure genre has been fading quickly from the memories of gamers since the late 90′s, with only a few titles, such as Sam and Max and the newly introduced Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures, managing to keep the genre alive in the hearts of both new and old gamers alike.
Now that Telltale Games have virtually revived the adventure genre from a long nap in a pool of its own ale-induced vomit, they’ve tried their hand at a classic series that may have been your first experience into the point-and-click adventure genre; Monkey Island. The swashbuckling, genuinely funny series has been in serious need of a revival, one that the Telltale gang delivers on both the PC and the Wii .
But with such high expectations to meet and rabid fans to please, can Guybrush Threepwood and Telltale Games recreate the piratey-magic? Or does Tales of Monkey Island Launch of the Screaming Narwhal sink faster than the ship it sailed in on?
As one who grew up with the original LucasArts series, I’ve been waiting for a new installment for nearly ten years and was wary of a new game after such a long absence. But within 30 minutes of installing (mind you, on a five or six year old Dell computer) and booting up the game, I found myself overjoyed with nostalgia as the game pulled me back into the world of Monkey Island that’s been missing from my life for a decade or so. Tales of Monkey Island is a faithful, yet fresh spin on a classic series, recapturing both the integral gameplay and funny banter that has popularized it. However, the game is not without its annoyances.
Once again assuming the role as makeshift pirate Guybrush Threepwood, the protagonist of the series, the player will find themselves within a heated battle with Threepwood’s archnemesis and antagonist of the series, LeChuck. The evil, voodoo enchanted pirate has kidnapped Guybrush’s wife with intent to make her his bride. In an effort to effectively end the reign of LeChuck, Threepwood has the recipe for success with a magic cutlass, but clumsily and characteristically spoils his own voodoo spell and is forced to improvise. His makeshift sword proves to do more harm than good, as LeChuck is transformed into a human and the mysterious “Pox of LeChuck” that turns pirates into zombies looms over the islands somewhere “Deep in the Caribbean.”
As you drift on to Flotsom Island, you’ll encounter a reminiscent point-and-click action system and full 3D movement controlled either by the keyboard or the mouse. If your not familiar with the series, or graphic adventure games in general, you’ll conduct puzzles using the environment and items you’ve collected and kept in your inventory along the way during your quest. Depending on the situation, the player may have to inspect or combine items in their inventory to progress, may have to combine items with your surroundings, or a combination of both. This is where a bulk of the gameplay time will be spent, especially if your puzzle-solving abilities haven’t aged very well.
The puzzles throughout the game were a great mix of equal parts intuitive, brain-teasing, and frustratingly difficult that keeps the player thinking. At times though, they flirted with becoming overly annoying to the point where I needed to walk away from the computer and recompose myself getting just slightly angry. However, Monkey Island wouldn’t be Monkey Island if the game didn’t make you utilize that precious brain power. Telltale Games effectively recreated this staple of the franchise, especially since the series brand of humor remained intact and was successfully integrated throughout the entire game. The puzzles are not only a workout for the brain, but will also have you chuckling at Guybrush Threewood’s antics over the course of the episode.
Although Tales of Monkey Island appeases both fans of the series and the genre alike, its still not quite perfect. You’ll find that moving around may seem a bit clunky before you familiarize yourself with the controls. It feels more natural to use the keyboard to explore the 3D environment, but sometimes I felt the mouse lagged ever-so-slightly when I would interact with my inventory and surroundings, but was more of an annoyance than a significant problem.
One thing that did bother me though, which may have been because my PC is rapidly aging, was that the load times were long when beginning a new play session. Each area had a decent chunk of loading, yet after each was done, load times became non-existent. But if you’re one who gets stuck on a puzzle and likes to take a break, this may become more than an annoyance, but not to the extent where the overall gaming experience suffers.
With their defining intellect that has come to shape the graphic adventure genre, Telltale Games has created yet another thought provoking and genuinely enthralling game.Tales of Monkey Island Launch of the Screaming Narwhal is a great continuation to the franchise, reviving the a classic by sticking to the series’ roots, but also a fresh spin on the series. Even though it may be on the short side ( around 2-4 hours depending on your puzzle solving skills), the price is right, and will have you begging for the next four episodes. If you liked the original games, especially the first two, then you’ll feel right at home with Telltale’s first episode.
Although beautiful and detailed, the environment is almost a little too cartoony.
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Telltale effectively recreated both the atmosphere and intuitive puzzles that Monkey Island is known for.
The effects are great and the voice acting is top notch, utilizing the same actors from the third and fourth installments.
This episode clocks in at about 2-4 hours, and theres not much to do after completing the first episode. However, there will be 5 in total.
Tales of Monkey Island is a blast to play, but feels a little short, even for episodic content. All in all, Telltale has recaptured the magic of Monkey Island, both in its gameplay and its humor.