Tales of Monkey Island

What do you mean, you haven’t seen Annex’d episode 4 yet? It’s got some pretty talented people behind it… in fact, do yourself a favor and go back and watch ’em all. I celebrate their entire catalog.

Today, we’re going to talk about the Tales of Monkey Island. Yahtzee recently did a video about it where he gave it the usual slamming, but I’m going to stick up for it just a bit.

Tales of Monkey Island has currently released two out of five new monkey island “episodes” that will tell one complete story over the course of the series. I’ve played through the first one and about two thirds (I think) through the second, and I have to say I find them quite enjoyable.

I hear some people weren’t comfortable with the idea of moving Guybrush around with the mouse and then using that same mouse to click on things. … ‘kay? I don’t know what the problem is with this one. Sure, occasionally you’ll get hung up on a doorway or whatever, but it’s not like Resident Evil where there’s a zombie chewing on your face if you don’t move quickly enough. It’s an adventure game! It doesn’t need absolutely perfect controls. I found them completely functional. The camera also did a much better job of showing which areas are accessible than Escape From Monkey Island, the last 3D game in the series.

While we’re talking about controls, they got rid of the verbs and completely streamlined everything. Guybrush can click on objects to interact with them. He’ll do whatever the appropriate action is, you don’t need to decide whether he needs to “push”, “open”, or “use” a door, he just does it. The inventory is also made much simpler, and this might be the only time I’ll say this, but here simple isn’t a bad thing. Previous games had you lugging around around thirty different thingamajigs, some of which you would use once and then just hang onto indefinitely, and others where you’d need to keep them for multiple uses.

The graphics and environments are decent but not great. They get the job done. Again, nobody expects Monkey Island to be completely cutting edge. It’s true that the minor character models are pretty boring, but Guybrush and the other main characters are surprisingly expressive.

How’s the writing? Better than Monkey Island 4. Like all the games, it’s filled with witty references to all the other games, and often to other unrelated LucasArts games. The story is pretty good so far too. It feels like the game is trying to walk that line between honoring the past games and still telling a new story.

I look forward to the next three games. In fact, this game makes me somewhat interested in some of the other games released by Telltale, such as the Sam and Max games. Perhaps I’ll give those a shot some day.

Oh and because every article written about Monkey Island needs to include at least one dorky reference… that’s the second biggest monkey head I’ve ever seen.


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September 2009
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