Laugh With the Pirates of Monkey Island!

Geek Culture

Guybrush Threepwood (Courtesy: Telltale Games)Guybrush Threepwood (Courtesy: Telltale Games)

Guybrush Threepwood (Telltale Games)

The first installment of Telltale Games’s new five-episode series called Tales of Monkey Island comes out today. Part one is called Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal. (Telltale Games is the same company that recently brought us Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Adventures.) Join in on the fun as Guybrush Threepwood once again fights the evil pirate LeChuck, who has just kidnapped Guybrush’s wife, the lovely Elaine Marley. Hilarity ensues.

Tales of Monkey Island is for the PC. Its whole five-episode series is available for $34.95. As with Wallace and Gromit, after all the games are out, season customers will be able to order a Collector’s DVD with all five games and bonus content for the cost of shipping. Tales of Monkey Island episodes will also be available on WiiWare at some point in the future. There aren’t any big differences between the PC and Wii versions.

I played the original Monkey Island game back in the early 1990s and enjoyed it thoroughly. It was funny, challenging and a great introduction to this kind of gaming. So I was very excited when I heard that someone was putting out a new Monkey Island game.

As with Wallace and Gromit, there is an introduction to the game before the opening credits with a couple of small tasks to complete. It’s a good introduction to the storyline and the game mechanics.

The Evil Pirate LeChuck (Courtesy: Telltale Games)The Evil Pirate LeChuck (Courtesy: Telltale Games)

The Evil Pirate LeChuck (Telltale Games)

The game play does not disappoint. The humor is still quite funny and is definitely updated from the original game. There are plenty of references to current culture. Apparently a lot of original Monkey Islanders have been working on this new game. That always helps with continuity and authenticity.

Game interaction is quite interesting. You use the mouse to click and drag yourself around on the screen. It is fairly hard to move around with precision, and it is easy to run into things. Also, while you’re moving around, your point of view often changes, which complicates navigation as well. The point of view that you have at a particular time isn’t always the most ideal one, either. When you’re walking around in the jungle, for example, the changing point of view is disorienting. Since there are fewer landmarks, it is easy to get turned around.

In the game, there are new people to meet, jokes to enjoy and plenty of challenges to solve. My memory of the original game is a bit fuzzy, but this new one seems to be on par with the old one, in terms of humor, adventure and tasks to complete. I don’t remember the original being so sequential, however. Much of the time in this new game, you have to complete one or two tasks before being able to move on to the next one. So if you’re stuck, you’re stuck. You can’t move on and come back to it later. This is probably because the game reads like a book. You have to complete one chapter before moving on to the next.

The Lovely Elaine (Telltale Games)The Lovely Elaine (Telltale Games)

The Lovely Elaine Marley (Telltale Games)

Whenever you talk to someone, you get a choice of what to say. What you select, though, is sometimes just a general description of what Guybrush Threepwood actually says. He tends to be either more or less witty than the option you chose, depending on the circumstances.

One new and interesting feature is that you can combine two of your inventory items to create something new. Other than that, you use inventory as you’d expect. As with Wallace and Gromit, there are different hint levels available, however I did not notice an appreciable difference between the lowest level and the highest one.

Fans of the original game will definitely enjoy this new version, especially once you get the hang of the navigation.

Wired: Fun and often hysterical game play with lots of adventure and challenges. Nice new version of an old game.

Tired: Navigation and point of view can be confusing. Sequential tasks can be frustrating if you get stuck.

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