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Tales of Monkey Island
Tales of Monkey Island

Nintendo Wii | PC
Genre: Adventure Players: 1 to 0
Developer: Telltale Games Official Site:
Publisher: Lace Mamba
Release Date:
25th March 2011
Tales of Monkey Island Review
Review By @ 05:09pm 15/01/10
I'll be honest with you: I hated Tales of Monkey Island when I first started playing it. The camera was annoying, the dialogue lengthy and impossible to skip, and the controls were - to put it bluntly - awful.

But I persevered. I have a fondness for the original game, and figured that - even though it had been a long time between drinks - this new incarnation couldn't be all that bad. my delight, my patience paid off (be that a lesson to you).

My biggest drama was with the navigation system - for this new release, the developers have changed their original formula, introducing a new system which sees the gamer click-and-drag Guybrush around the place. While I'm sure they meant well, this was actually pretty unpleasant to use, in my experience. The frequent changes in camera angles often lead to Guybrush walking in a different direction than I'd anticipated. Just as I had resigned myself to grumbling through the entire game, it was a delight to discover that I still had keyboard control over my Mighty Pirate. Still no point-and-click, but it'd do.

I'd also forgotten that while Monkey Island / Lucasarts / Telltale dialogue is some of the wittiest you'll come across, there is a lot of it, and it's not always essential to the gameplay. Didn't take me long to figure out that a handy right-click will skip through the conversational cutscenes - very useful when you accidentally click the wrong option, or find yourself replaying a part you've already completed. Some puzzles do require you to pay attention, however - how else are you going to sweet-talk a giant sea creature using words from a travel phrase book?

So. That's the bad stuff, which turned out to be not-so-bad. How about the good...

Like the controls, the visuals have taken another step forward compared to the earlier games. This time, it's for the better! The introduction of fully-rendered 3D graphics has made the whole environment much more enjoyable to explore, whether you're checking out the maze-like jungles of Flotsam Island, or wandering through the belly of a giant manatee. Some of the camera angles are a bit awkward, and occasionally they seemed to be triggered by a passing seagull, but overall, the comic feel of the originals was retained, and given a bit of a spit polish.

As an episodic release, I was interested to see how each bite-sized chunk of adventure held up - both as an individual game and as part of a whole, and I'm pleased to report that they performed admirably on both counts. Unlike their previous releases (Sam & Max and Wallace and Gromit), which were collections of related yet standalone titles, Telltale decided to break Tales of Monkey Island up into five chapters which added up to a complete storyline. Each episode is fairly well self-contained, with characters and inventory items carrying over from one to the next, and seemed fairly well divided in terms of length and plot progression.

While I didn't time each episode, either my skills in puzzling have diminished over the years, or the "two to four hour" estimated gameplay time is a major understatement - each one took noticeably longer than that - but for the most part it was an enjoyable experience. (Worth noting that my major frustration didn't come from having to solve puzzles - all of which were pleasantly challenging - but from the endless back-tracking required to move from place to place to achieve certain tasks. Episode 5 in particular was a killer in terms of having to constantly traverse between locations in order to act out something that should have been much more simple.)

The storyline is more deep than you may expect from a simple adventure game, with a few interesting twists and the usual crew of recurring characters (including the Voodoo Lady, Smilin' Stan and even - wait for it - Murray the talking skull!). A quick plot run-down: While attempting to defeat the Ghost Pirate LeChuck, Guybrush Threepwood accidentally releases a Pox that soon spreads over the entirety of the Caribbean, turning innocent pirates into scary, cranky zombies. Your task is to go clean up the mess, with (what else?) a mystical voodoo sponge. Fun times - and they only get more fun when pirate hunter Morgan LeFlay comes on the scene, interacting with Guybrush to create an entirely new (and somewhat unexpected) subplot.

If you're a fan of old-school adventure games, or just fond of pirates and large sea creatures (there's even a ninja thrown in the mix!), I strongly advise picking this one up. The hey-day of the genre is, unfortunately, long-gone - but it's great to see people like Telltale Games doing their bit to make sure it's not forgotten.
What we liked
  • It's a return to form for the Telltale mob
  • Level of puzzle-difficulty is pretty much spot-on
  • Lush environments, great audio, awesome voice acting
  • Guybrush Threepwood, Elaine and LeChuck!
What we didn't like
  • The new control scheme is a pig
  • Camera angles can be awkward at times
  • Lots of back-tracking
We gave it:
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