Thar be pirates in
these parts! Nasty, villainous pirates. Powerful, suspicious pirates. And
beautiful, shapely pirates. It's the last category that dominates this
game in the person of Morgane Castillo, daughter of a notorious sea
Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle is a
spin-off of So Blonde, and opens with Morgane as a child, doing
chores, playing piratical games, and crossing swords with the neighborhood
bully. This introduction establishes Morgane's assertive personality, and
provides glimpses of other characters whose influence will be felt later
in the game.
Chapter Two begins with Morgane celebrating her
seventeenth birthday under an unexpected challenge -- her father offers
her the role of "acting captain" and assigns her several leadership tasks.
Much of the rest of the game focuses on Morgane's attempts to prove
herself as a strategic thinker and a judge of character in a traditionally
male role. Morgane and her pirate crew embark on a quest for the Golden
Turtle, following clues left behind on various islands by an explorer
named Buckleberry Tanner. Tanner's "breadcrumb" trail offers tantalizing
details about his life and provides many of the toughest puzzle challenges
in the game.
The graphics in Captain Morgane are stylized
and aptly portray the warmth of the Caribbean surroundings -- including
luxuriant foliage and colorful glimpses of the sea, cliffs, and flowering
plants. They contain unexpected (and sometimes humorous) details -- a
one-eyed crocodile floor rug, a skull with a leg bone in its mouth, an
inflatable moose. (A certain Disney sight gag is particularly memorable.)
Most environments are enhanced by ambient animations -- clouds blowing,
water lapping, torches burning, and mist rising. The background music
suits the locations and storyline, ranging from breezy, syncopated tunes
to more suspenseful orchestral backdrops.
This is a story-driven game designed by Steve Ince of
Broken Sword fame (he also designed the original game in the
series: So Blonde). Captain Morgane features a large cast
-- some conscientious, others mysterious, and some with absurd quirks.
The game's focus on character growth succeeds
unusually well with the young, attractive Morgane. Throughout the story,
the gamers overhear her inner thoughts, participate in her efforts to
exceed her father's expectations, and watch her awakening as a
pathfinder/innovator/commander. The other characters aren't nearly as
well-developed -- I would have enjoyed learning more about them. (Maybe
there will be a spin-off sequel?)
In a game with so many personalities, dialogs are
prominent. (When characters speak, their faces appear at the bottom right
of the screen -- making character interaction more intimate because the
portraits show a lot more detail than the in-game character models.) On
the whole the dialogs are amusing and well voiced -- Morgane's expressive
voiceovers, in particular, are standouts.
One drawback -- many dialogs have been "matched" with
animations, and while you can click through the dialogs, you can't click
through the animations. So you are a captive audience as Morgane scratches
her head or waves "hello" or jumps up and down with joy, etc. Subtitles
also remain on screen for such a long time that you must click through all
of them. The dialogs bring a lot to the game, but also slow it down.
Overall, character movement is smooth (with the
exception of a few minor characters). The cut scenes are partially
animated and have a cartoon esthetic that is closer to the character
models than the in-game graphics; they are brief but effective.
Tortoise or Hare?
This is a third person perspective game, using a
point-and-click interface. Navigation between locations involves a quick
fade to black, followed by immediate access to the new location. There is
also a "show all hotspots" feature and an interactive map (the map is
available via the in-game menu).
Most of the puzzles involve either dialog challenges
or combining and using inventory items. There are a handful of timed
mini-games, including a bridge-crossing sequence with "bombs" falling and
a Towers of Hanoi challenge. These self-contained conundrums add some
variety to the gameplay and can be skipped, which elicits a chorus of
"boos" but no other apparent penalty.
The extensive dialog and inventory recall LucasArts
classics like the Monkey Island series, but Captain Morgane
is more streamlined. The game eschews the old-timer menu or "medallion"
assortment of interactions, eliminating the need for precise mousing or
tedious attempts at multiple actions with each hotspot. Also, instead of
repeating the same "that won't work" dialog, this game greets unsuccessful
interactions with simple silence -- a refreshing improvement.
Though the beginning and ending sections of
Captain Morgane are fast-paced, the bulk of the game is clearly aimed
at adventure gamers who relish intricate combinations and repeated
attempts to find that one conversation or hotspot that permits progress.
This game has many "invisible triggers" (examples: a conversation that
must be engaged in, or a hotspot that must be clicked on before something
else in the gameworld becomes useable). As a result, much time is spent
going back and re-examining things, talking to people again, or trying
every inventory item with other item/hotspot again. Many gamers will be
thrilled by how the game rewards persistence. However, in a long,
story-driven game (one that's so good that you can't wait to find out
what's going to happen next), persistence can degrade to frustration.
By mid-game, Captain Morgane becomes a cascade
of task-related progress barriers. Wandering around while wondering what
to do next -- combined with the waiting required to get through the dialog
animations -- felt at times like a long trudge. A more formal hint system
would have helped a lot (without one, I had to resort to a walkthrough).
About twelve hours in, this game has a laugh-out-loud
plot twist, and the pacing improves from that point to the end. The ending
is a trifle abrupt; it answers some questions but leaves others
unresolved. Captain Morgane has enough complexity that, between the
challenging gameplay, multiple characters, multiple island locations, and
engaging story, it's easy to lose yourself. It's the sort of game that
merits a replay for full appreciation.
Quick List for Captain Morgane and the Golden
A coming-of-age story with a spunky heroine and a
Caribbean mystery quest, plus piratical trimmings. A spin-off of So
Blonde. Memorable characters, stylized graphics with plenty of color
and detail. Excellent writing; good voiceovers. Lots of dialog, sometimes
slowed by animations. You can click through the dialogs.
Mostly inventory and dialog based puzzles. Skippable,
timed mini-games. The most difficult challenges are the Buckleberry Tanner
statue puzzle and figuring out all the invisible triggers. No sliders, no
mazes, no color or sound based puzzles You can't die.
Third person perspective, point-and-click interface.
No problems with installation and no glitches. Three saved game slots (not
nearly enough). A "show all hotspots" feature and an interactive map.
About fifteen hours of gameplay.
The ending is somewhat abrupt and foreshadows events
in So Blonde. A bit of spicy language. Appropriate for older
children and up.
Aimed at fans of the classic LucasArts adventure
games and So Blonde, and at adventure gamers who relish a piratical
romp through alluring Caribbean locations.
Final Grade: B+
What I played it on:
Dell Studio XPS 8000
Windows 7 Home Premium
Intel Core i5-750 processor
6GB DDR3 SDRAM
1024MB NVIDIA GeForce GT 220
GameBoomers Review Guidelines