As Tales of Monkey Island: The
Siege of Spinner Cay opens, Guybrush Threepwood is once again on the
deck of a ship with a sword at his throat. The Voodoo Lady, whose fortune
telling skills seem to improve with each episode, assumes the role of
narrator and selects a tarot card titled “The Victim.” That victim looks
ominously like our Mighty Pirate.™
Guybrush is in the middle of yet another battle at sea, this time with
a shapely female who would find it a special honor to kill him. During the
next few hours, Guybrush will discover the identity of his attacker, sail
to the Jerkbait Islands, meet an unexpected royal personage, and have a
“polite” conversation with the un-undead pirate LeChuck. Guybrush is
uncovering historical artifacts from these islands in order to try to
solve his Pox problem, a disease he accidentally unleashed in the first
episode: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal. At this stage, my
money’s on the Pox.
What did we See?
Spoon Isle (largest of the Jerkbaits) looks a lot like the 3D
cartoon-like Flotsam Island from Screaming Narwhal -- which isn’t
surprising, as it is (after all) in the same part of the Caribbean. The
new environments offer a different color palette, partly because the game
takes place at sunset. Picture a peach-colored sky with gold and violet
Stone carved wells and altars recall those on Flotsam Island -- though
the barbecue and heated throne are definitely different. A library is one
of the new dockside institutions, complete with a snooty librarian
blocking human access by keeping the books underwater.
The background music is cheerful and syncopated with a Caribbean flair.
Also heard are familiar piratical ditties, a bit of jazz, and a mystical
tune suitable for enigmatic royal encounters.
We Saw the Sea
In Spinner Cay Guybrush sails between the various islands,
sometimes on a raft he rents for the day. A cliffhanger ending also takes
place at sea. The most visually dramatic interlude is the siege sequence,
where you can watch Spinner Cay (seat of the Jerkbait Island government)
bombarded by cannon balls. The whole place trembles with each impact, and
the projectiles leave lovely smoke traces on the stones surrounding the
Although not necessary, it is advisable to play Screaming Narwhal
before Spinner Cay, as the plot of the second episode follows
closely on the events of the first game.
Then Across the Foam Again
New piratical characters inhabit the Jerkbait Islands, though none so
memorable as LeChuck. Now in his third (at least) transformation, LeChuck
is as formidable as ever. Everything about him is exuberant – from his
deep voice to his skull-shaped belt buckle the size of a Frisbee. His hat
is festooned with a gigantic fishtail plume and he sports a luxuriant
beard and thick cattail-like eyebrows. As far as personality, he seems to
channel the jovial spirit of Dicken’s Ghost of Christmas Past (piratical
version). He assumes Guybrush will join him in letting bygones be bygones.
The writing is fairly consistent with Screaming Narwhal, though
for humor Spinner Cay relies more on puns and (annoyingly)
innuendo. The games are plenty entertaining without the latter. The
innuendo is subtle enough that young children (probably) won’t pick up on
it, but I was surprised to find it there at all. Voiceovers continue to be
topnotch. This episode plays a bit shorter than the first one and doesn’t
quite match its entertainment value, but did keep me fancifully engaged
for four hours.
We Don’t Object to Feeling the Motion
Spinner Cay is in third person perspective, and movement is by
either the WASD keys or by click-and-dragging the mouse. Dragging Guybrush
along is harder than point-and-clicking, but much easier than using the
keyboard. Convenient “exit” hotspots made movement even easier in a couple
of places -- I did wonder why these weren’t available in more locations.
The puzzles are similar to those in Screaming Narwhal, though
not as wide-ranging, and with more emphasis on dialog and treasure
hunting. Working with the inventory is easy, including item combinations.
Some of the puzzles involve watching the pattern of actions and
manipulating dialogs or using inventory items to get things done during
The game installed smoothly and I encountered no glitches.
Quick List for Tales of Monkey Island: The Siege of Spinner Cay
Sea creatures, pirate ships,
swords, fish bait, and a highly contagious Pox. Guybrush Threepwood in
articulate fighting form. Humor has a bit of an adult “edge.” Colorful
cartoon-like 3D graphics. This is the second episode of five.
Third person perspective.
Click-and-drag motion for moving Guybrush (WASD keys as an alternative),
point-and-click for hotspot interaction. The Hint system continues to be
helpful, though not exhaustive.
Inventory puzzles, dialog
challenges, choosing the correct action or item during a repeated
sequence. Less puzzle variety than in the first episode. You can click
through the dialogs. One somewhat maze-like island location. No sound
puzzles, no sliding tile puzzles, no color discrimination challenges. The
hardest puzzle involves thinking three-dimensionally. You can’t die.
No glitches or problems with
installation. A cliffhanger ending that leaves the gamer longing for more.
Aimed at fans of classic
LucasArts adventures and gamers who enjoy absurd situations and eccentric
Final Grade: B
Tales of Monkey Island can be purchased via download from the
Telltale Games website
My Computer Specs:
Windows XP Professional
Pentium 2.80 GHz
2.00 GB RAM
Direct X 9.0c
512 MB NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX
SB X-Fi Audio
Section headings are from “We Saw the Sea,” lyrics by Irving Berlin.