Welcome to yet another review where I begin by reminiscing about my favourite childhood home computer, the Commodore Amiga. Yes it was around 1992 or 1993 when on this magnolia coloured jumped up electrical typewriter; I played the original Secret of Monkey Island. Since the original Point and Click adventure we’ve seen three sequels of which I have only played one; the Secret of Monkey Island 2. The third and fourth titles were released on PC at periods of time where I wasn’t able to enjoy them and sadly I’ve not gone back to play them yet.
Now heading back into the present day TellTale Games are here and bringing us a brand new five part Monkey Island adventure for the PC and WiiWare. I’m not strictly sure if this counts as the fifth game in the series but what I do know is that it continues the storyline where it left off.
Just as with the previous games you take control of the mighty Pirate known as Guybrush Threepwood; you don’t start on Monkey Island this time but on your ship. You are travelling on the high seas to rescue your wife Elaine from hands of the evil Pirate Le Chuck. The first scene is a short introduction which also acts as your training mission and trains you to use the new inventory menu and control scheme. It starts with you just a few steps away from finally banishing Le Chuck to hell forever. But things go wrong (I won’t spoil how) and you end up unconscious floating towards Flotsom Island which is where your adventure really starts.
Soon after washing up on the shore you meet some of the inlands inhabitants who are generally quite friendly considering they’re pirates; they inform you of the island’s freak weather system which traps everyone who lands upon it. It seems the wind constantly blows towards the island and doesn’t ever change thus preventing anyone from being able to sail away. Even if they wanted to sail away the island only has one ship in port and it’s never been sailed on the open seas. The Screaming Narwal has been built from scraps found on the island and from previous Shipwrecks, not exactly a fine example of shipmanship. I don’t want to spoil anymore of the storyline here because it would be easy to tell you too much of this short but jam packed 6 hour chapter and it’s so much better if you experience it for yourself. All you need to know is that as Guybrush you will have to uncover the secrets of the Island in a very funny and lovingly created adventure with plenty of characters, item finding and puzzle solving. There are quite a few references to the original games which I’m sure will raise a smile to anyone who’s played them.
Telltale has managed to capture the essence of Monkey Island with the help of the original creators Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman. Whilst I was a little nervous about heading into this brand new 3D Voice Acted style of point and click game I’ve been won over, I really enjoyed all of the time I spent with this episode, yes even all the time I was stuck wondering what to do (probably one hour out of the six). Gameplay feels fresh and plays a little like the recent Strongbad and Wallace and Gromit games also from Telltale but features a slightly revamped control scheme. Rather than the traditional point and click which I used to love; Tales of Monkey Island introduces Point and Drag.
Instead of using your mouse cursor and clicking where you’d like Guybrush to walk you can now hold the mouse button down and drag in the direction you’d like him to walk. Personally I don’t like this change and instead chose to make Guybrush walk using the arrow keys on my keyboard, I felt I had greater control and accuracy this way. The new graphic style took a little of getting used to for me because mentally I was coming from the original 16bit games; everything looks lush with lots of attention to detail. All of the characters are really well voice acted and become instantly memorable; hopefully we’ll bump into them in future episodes. Veterans will recognise lovely new renditions of the classic Monkey Island soundtracks too!
I whole heartedly recommend Tales of Monkey Island and can’t wait for the future episodes coming every month up until November 2009. I know it seems unusual to purchase a game for $34 right now and receive it in five separate six hour chunks but Chapter one scores 8 out of 10. Bring on Chapter 2!
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