Arr, Matey! This be the typical, hackneyed way to start off a pirate-y game review! One of the most beloved point and click adventure series is back with Tales of Monkey Island for the PC (and later WiiWare). Join bumbling Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty PirateTM, as he rescues his wife Elaine from pirate demon LeChuck’s clutches. But when a voodoo concoction makes Guybrush’s magic cutlass go awry, his left hand gets possessed by LeChuck’s spirit and everyone gets shipwrecked and separated. Can Guybrush escape the winds of Flotsam Island, keep his possessed hand from getting him into trouble, AND save Elaine? Find out in the first episode: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal.
Tales of Monkey Island is an episodic point and click adventure game from TellTale Games, makers of similar styled adventures based on other popular properties like Sam & Max, Strong Bad, and Wallace & Gromit. Each episode, which has roughly 4 to 6 hours of gameplay, will be released separately about every month or so, and you can download them at TellTale’s Web site. Similar to other TellTale games, use the mouse to point and click on objects and people to gather clues, talk to others, and collect items you can use to solve the games many wacky puzzles.
One new aspect is the ability to combine items to create new ones to help crack the riddles. By clicking and dragging two items from your inventory into circles and pressing the ‘combine’ button, you might be able to use two items at once. Need to fizz up some flat root beer? Then just combine breath mints and some flat grog to make it fizzy, for instance.
TellTale has experimented with new ways of play control, too. You can still use the mouse to click on items and move around with the WASD keys like the Wallace and Gromit games. But you can also simply use the mouse. By holding down the left button, you can move the mouse to make Guybrush walk in that direction. Pressing the roller button opens your inventory, and right click to run. I didn’t quite get used to the new way to move your character, so I just stuck with the WASD way. I would’ve liked to have seen a more traditional control scheme where you click your mouse somewhere and Guybrush would walk to it, but the new ways to control your character don’t hinder the gameplay in any way.
The only other minor problems I had with the first episode was that some of the puzzles were less intuitive than I would’ve liked for them to be, and the jungle maze was just…BLECH! Even though I was a huge LucasArts point and click adventure game fan as a kid, I never really got into Monkey Island titles that much. The sci-fi themes of Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders interested me more, and I didn’t have time to play too much else (hey, I was just a kid). So I can’t really say if this new game is ‘true’ to the series. But there are plenty of fun puzzles, wacky humor, and slapstick swashbuckling action, so I can’t see how a Monkey Island fan could NOT like this. As with all other TellTale games, Tales of Monkey Island is highly recommended for point and click adventure game fans.
Tales of Monkey Island is rated E-10 for Everyone 10 and up. ESRB descriptors include Alcohol Reference, Comic Mischief, Mild Language, and Mild Suggestive Themes. You can’t have a pirate adventure without a little “Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of rum,” but nobody actually drinks anything, and there’s only mentions of being drunk. The game is full of Looney Tunes style slapstick antics and Simpsons-like parody and satire. And the sexual innuendos are very subtle and will go over most kids’ heads. Because of the trickier puzzles, Tales of Monkey Island would probably be best enjoyed by older kids. But the whole family would be able to enjoy this one together. In fact, an extra set of eyes is always helpful to solve the puzzles.