Orginally posted on www.Defaultprime.com. This review focuses on the WiiWare version of Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter One Launch of the Screaming Narwhal. Screenshots are taken from the PC version of the title.
With E3’s triumphant return this year many games were lost in the hustle and bustle of announcements and demos. One title that didn’t get much attention over the E3 week was Tales of Monkey Island. The sequel to the long running point and click adventures series Monkey Island that disappeared after Escape from Monkey Island which was released in 2000. Nine years later the series returns with Tales of Monkey Island, a five part episodic adventure for the PC and Wii. Telltale Games the developer of Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People and the latest entires in the Sam and Max series took hold of the development for Tales of Monkey Island. With episodic gaming it is very important to make a good first impression. Does Taletell Games succeed in making a treasure worth searching for or should you set sail for new waters?
Monkey Island follows the tale of Guybrush Threepwood, whose self described as a “Mighty Pirate” but is clumsy and prone to accidents and danger. In an attempt to rescue his wife from his archenemy Le Chuck, he accidentally messes up some of the ingredients in a voodoo recipe meant to banish Le Chuck. The mix up back fires and absorbs part of Le Chuck’s power into Guybrush’s hand. Before they can even figure out what happened, the ship explodes from a pile of gunpowder that was accidentally lit and Guybrush is launched off the ship into the water, where he floats on a piece of debris to a nearby island. Trapped on the islands by its irregular winds that always blow inward, Guybursh must find a way off the island to save his wife and a way to remove the evil power he absorbed into his hand. Those who have never played a Monkey Island title need not worry about the story. The story pulls a bit from the past games, but not so much so that new players are lost at what is happening.
The main reason you will want to play Tales of Monkey Island comes from the humorous writing. Almost every line of dialog has some sort of joke or comedic value to it. Many of which are references from past games, often talking about past experiences or places he has visited, even the three headed monkey joke returns. While these jokes may not make much sense to new players to the series there are a lot of references to more common things like Dora the Explorer, YouTube and more so you won’t feel left out most of the time. If you’re looking for a game that will make you laugh, this is it.
Point and click adventures have always had their issues with gameplay and puzzles. The biggest issue is that the puzzles all are dependent of the logic of the designer. If you don’t know their logic for solving a puzzle, you can’t really do anything but guess. Tales of Monkey Island is no different. Many of the puzzles are fairly easy to do, but a few of them will give you trouble. Usually on these you don’t really know what you are supposed to do and when you do randomly find out what to do your not exactly sure what you did or why and after few more guesses you just sort of figure it out without ever knowing really what you were trying to do till the end of the puzzle. There is a hint frequency you can alter to customize how long you want till you get a hint. Some of the hints can be helpful, but other ones don’t change for the situation which can be confusing at times. Aside from a few puzzles the game flows at a fairly smooth pace and due to the restricted size because of the nature of episodic content, there aren’t too many places to search in order to find out how to progress in the game in case you get stuck.
Tales of Monkey Island’s main story can take you around three to four hours to complete, which is not very long but considering the price and that the title is being released in episodic bites, it’s a reasonable length. Aside from the main quest there is a treasure hunting mode, which is a twist on one of the puzzles from the main game, but it only lasts around ten minutes before its over. Otherwise there isn’t any real replay value, you’ll play it once and probably not again any time soon.
Considering it is a WiiWare title, the graphics look pretty good, but there are some blurry textures here and there. Environments are bright, colorful and fit the beach and jungle setting well. Character models are detailed and facial animations are spectacular. Where Tales of Monkey Island hits its problems in the presentation on the WiiWare version is the frame rate. The frame rate is constantly changing, making the game look choppy and move slowly. Some times it locks up on a frame for a few seconds before continuing. When changing between the pre-set camera angles sound effects, voices, or music start repeating and overlapping each other. The WiiWare version also suffers voice acting getting compressed due to the file size limits of WiiWare making it sound a bit less then desirable, but it gets the job done.
Tales of Monkey Island doesn’t revolutionize point and click games, but makes a good first impression. It’s a great entry into the genre and well worth it for anyone whose a fan of the genre and looking for something a little more light hearted then your typical story heavy point and click adventure game. Due to all the technical issues on WiiWare players with access to a PC that can runTales of Monkey Island should definitely go for the PC version instead. If you only have the Wii as a option then prepare for some technical issues, but if you can over look them then Tales of Monkey Island is a great title and should be a must for anyone looking for a comedic story that will make you laugh the whole way through.