Tales of Monkey Island




Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Telltale and LucasArts

Publisher:    Lace Mamba

Released:  April 2011

PC Requirements:  

Windows XP or Vista (32) and Windows 7
DirectX 9.0c or better
Free hard drive space: 2GB
Recommended 2.0 GHz + (3 GHz Pentium 4 or equivalent)
Recommended 512 MB RAM (1GB rec.)
64 MB DirectX 9.0c - compliant video card (128MB rec.)

Walkthrough   Additional screenshots





by flotsam


The good burghers of GameBoomers have previously reviewed the separate chapters of Tales of Monkey Island, and all in all they found it a rollicking, piratey jaunt. The feel of the old was there, spruced up with some new, and as far as they were concerned it did the franchise proud. Now we have all five chapters on a single disc, with no waiting for the next one to release. So what of it all in one bite?

I didn’t snack on the previous morsels, but I did play and review the special editions of the first two Monkey Island adventures. I was unashamedly a fan, and I therefore came to this with a recent history of the fun that was the originals. While not as delicious, these Tales are worthy participants in the Monkey banquet.

This is no doubt helped to a large degree by the collaboration between Telltale and LucasArts, and the involvement of some of the original designers and contributors. Dave Grossman and Ron Gilbert, two LucasArts Monkey Island luminaries were involved, as were writers, composers and voice actors. Most notably this includes Dominic Armato, who has voiced Guybrush since The Curse of Monkey Island (including the special editions I mentioned), and who truly is now Guybrush Threepwood.

This is a little bit of a closing of the circle, as Telltale Games was set up by some former LucasArts employees. Sam & Max, one of Telltale’s successful franchises, started life at LucasArts, but this is the first collaboration between the two companies. On the strength of this, may there be more.

“Lets go hot shot – momma’s been lonely”

I do think the designers trod on a tail or two though. I really didn’t like the click and drag method of getting around, and I used the keyboard instead, which I found better but still navigationally challenged. It made life a little more difficult in some of the timed activities, but I did find that over the course of five chapters, I settled into a perambulation which never became completely comfortable but which did become reasonably effective.

Apart from that, I confess to enjoying most everything else. The charisma of the characters, the humour in the writing, the musical accompaniment, the little touches that acknowledged its roots – all these made for an engaging and entertaining experience.

We start on a ship, two ships actually, with LeChuck being evil, Elaine being in peril, and Guybrush being Guybrush. Which leads to things going boom, and some floating in the ocean, and waking alone on Flotsam Island. Alone as far as there being no Elaine, not alone as far as all the other residents of this excellently named island are concerned. A green hand is seemingly (but not actually) the least of Guybrush’s concerns at the moment. Getting off the island is the thing and, not surprisingly, involves bar fights, treasure and frilly pink underwear.

“This mating ground is as dead as my victims”

You can read all about the Tales from that point on by checking out the individual reviews. It maintains its light-hearted air, save for a darkish twist late in Chapter Four, and the writing is generally tight throughout. Chapter Two was a little like a door to other plotlines, but you have to get there from somewhere.

I did think across the chapters there was an occasional sense of structural sameness which might have been dissipated with the break between chapter releases, but it was very mild and, actually, I am probably just being picky!

The central characters – Guybrush, Elaine and LeChuck - are complete in every sense of the word, fleshed out in terms of personality and their relationships with each other. Guybrush is as he always was, all hapless dash and derring-do (save for a stint as a zombie) and Elaine remains strong and in love, despite the voodoo pox. The change in LeChuck across the game is a nice touch, and while the supporting cast as a group are nowhere near as strong, some characters do stand out – a bounty hunting, besotted Morgan LeFlay and Murray the skull being two in particular.

The central characters are also the best in terms of attention to graphic detail, and some locations did at times seem a little lazy in terms of design. But again, it’s a good-looking game overall and the style suits and supports the tone it’s looking for. There was also a healthy dose of different (and somewhat unique) environments, save for one chapter which revisited a previous location. The game is fairly open as well, with most places being accessible the moment you arrive somewhere.

“Would you like me to dye the ocean depths with your blood?”

Puzzling is consistent with the pedigree, being predominantly inventory based and not at all ordinary. I think it picks up as the chapters go along, and the face pulling puzzle stands out. There are some mazy bits, some banter bits, some voodoo bits and some timed bits – the last being the only bit I was less than certain about.

I mentioned the music in passing and am minded to mention it again. I often turn the music down so it’s just barely audible, but save for one puzzle where distinguishing animal noises is helpful, crank it up and let it carry you jauntily along.

The disc version allows you to play any chapter in any order you like, but as it’s a single story, I strongly suggest you start from the start. Viewed separately, some chapters are stronger than others (I thought the third and the final chapters were the pick, although the third seemed comparatively short) and some game design aspects are more noticeable in certain chapters (there seemed to be a lot more backtracking in Chapter Five for instance). But taken as a whole, it comes together nicely.

All up, it's most things it should be, and those are the things you want if Monkey Island is your thing.


I played on:

OS: Windows 7

Processor: AMD Phenom 9500 Quad Core CPU 2.2 GHz

Ram: 4.00GB DDR2 400MHz

Gx card: ATI Radeon HD 3850 512Mb

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