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
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
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
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
“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
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
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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