Tales of Monkey Island: The Siege of Spinner Cay

Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Telltale Games & LucasArts

Released:  August 2009

PC Requirements:   Windows XP / Vista, Pentium 4 Processor, 512MB RAM, 64MB Video card, DirectX 9.0c




by Becky


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 swirly clouds.

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 harbor.

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 those actions.

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 characters.

Final Grade: B

Tales of Monkey Island can be purchased via download from the Telltale Games website here.  

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.

September, 2009

design copyright© 2009 GameBoomers Group

 GB Reviews Index