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More...

The Screaming Narwhal has Launched

[Screenshot from Tales of Monkey Island, Part 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal]

Recently, something Amazing happened: After decades of monkeylessness, a new Monkey Island game was released, by Telltale Games. For those of you who don't know, Monkey Island is the ultimate pirate game, full of comedy and personality, and supposedly even inspired the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Monkey Island is the archetype of a point-and-click adventure game: You have your main character, Guybrush Threepwood, and lead him through hilarious conversations full of allusions to all sorts of pop culture, pick up and manipulate objects in the world to get the tools (or favors) needed for your quest, and have a jolly good time.

It's an interactive movie in the better sense, because you have a certain freedom of choice, but you don't die and there are many fun small and large interactions. While the game structure is kind of like Myst, the emphasis here is less on enjoying the scenery (though there is a bunch of exploration to be done), and more on the humorous interactions with the surroundings and other characters.

The Good

  • Typical Monkey Island Humour
  • Beautiful, 3D-rendered graphics with a cinematic, but cartoony feel.
  • Lots of allusions to all sorts of fun things.
  • It's a five-part series, for 35 US Dollars (around 25 Euros). One week of fun every month for almost half a year can't be beat at that cost. Also, you get a cliffhanger at the end of each episode.
  • A good hint system that IMHO is cryptic enough to give you the feeling of having it solved yourself.

The Bad

  • Currently only available for PC and Nintendo Wii. If you don't have either of those, nor Boot Camp, setting this up would require a couple hundred bucks for a Windows Vista Home Basic license at the least, and if you don't wanna restart every time, also another 80 for VMWare Fusion
  • The walking controls are a little fiddly, the "examine" controls in the inventory drawer are a tad awkward, and at least in Vista on my MacBook Pro 15", performance felt just a tad jerky occasionally (Even in Boot Camp).
  • Hints are a tad heavy-handed in the default setting and too easy to get by. Might want to turn them down a bit in the settings before you start playing, and only turn them back up if you actually get stuck.

Bottom Line

I recommend playing this, it's fantastic. One episode feels like it's worth paying 2/3rds of the price of the whole pack, so I'm even more willing to take the little glitches. Can't get a better deal.

PS - To make things even more amazing, LucasArts has released a Special Edition with updated graphics and added voice-overs of the original Secret of Monkey Island game, both for PC and in an iPhone version. There's even a little Insult Sword Fencing web-game on the site to while you the time until it ships.

The Siege of Spinner Cay

The second part got published a bit over a month later. It continues the first one well, and has some really fun moments, making fun of the adventure game genre and others. There are a few glitches (i.e. objects that you destroyed or gave away that suddenly appear again in their original locations, and cut scenes that happen and include people that have long left the room), but they don't take away too much from the enjoyable experience.

The only thing I could complain about was that it seemed a lot shorter than the first episode. I was through it in two days. Still, at that price, I can't really complain, though I do hope the next episode will keep me occupied a little longer.

Reader Comments: (RSS Feed)
Andrew writes:
The "examine" control in the inventory didn't stand out enough for me to notice it. With the first map, I spent some time trying to combine it with other objects in order to inspect it, and ended up working my way through the jungle by trial and error. Guess how stupid I felt when my flatmate pointed out the examine control...
Robert McGovern writes:
You can avoid the Examine icon in the inventory by simply pressing the E key and I brings up the inventory. WASD or Cursor keys make you walk around & with Shift you run instead.
Jean-Daniel Dupas writes:
"If you don't have either of those, nor Boot Camp," Just buy a Wii, it will be far less pain than installing Vista, and will eventually be cheaper :-)
Uli Kusterer replies:
Robert, I *was* talking about the cursor keys. The mouse control is so horrible I didn't try it for very long. But thanks, "I" and "E" are a nice way to lessen the pain.
Or E-Mail Uli privately.

 
Created: 2009-07-11 @402 Last change: 2018-08-21 @554 | Home | Admin | Edit
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