Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle

 

 

Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   WizarBox

Publisher:    Reef Entertainment

Released:  April 2012

PC Requirements:  

  • OS : Windows XP/Vista/Seven

  • CPU: 1.6 GHz

  • RAM: 512 MB

  • Video Card: 64 MB

  • HDD: 3 GB

  • DirectX: 9.0

Additional screenshots

 

 

 

 

by Becky

 

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.

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.

Sunrise, Sunset

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).

Island Reunion

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 Turtle

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

Soundblaster X-Fi

 

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May 2012

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