Tales of Monkey Island: Episode 1 Review

I just finished the episode a few minutes ago.

Considering how Telltale was founded by a bunch of bitter, disenfranchises ex-Lucasarts employees angry over the Sam and Max debacle, I have no idea why it took so long for them to get their hands on Monkey Island. Oh, wait, yes I do, it’s because Lucasarts-

(Next five hours of ranting and raving cut for your convenience)

-and they smell funny, too!

Anyway, Telltale still seems to be the only company to actually understand the concept of episodic gaming: shorter games released more frequently at a lower price. The whole idea is not to reinvent the wheel, but rather to provide mindless entertainment in quick, digestible chunks. A lesson a certain other company can take to heart. But I’m losing track.

Tales of Monkey Island is the first Telltale series with an actual, overarching storyline. Once again, Guybrush and Elaine are trying to stop the evil LeChuck (now a zombie again) from stealing some monkey’s soul or whatever. They enchant a magic sword to destroy the evil pirate, but Guybrush, being who he is, fucks it up completely. LeChuck is turned into a full human, and Guybrush’s left hand is possessed by his nemesis’ evil. So it seems that our new goal is to get rid of the cursed hand and defeat LeChuck’s newest form.

Or, at least, I think that’s what it is. You see, the rest of the game has Guybrush stuck on Floatsom Island, where the winds suck up any ships stupid enough to try and sail past. Your primary goal is to find a way off the stinking island so you can go to some other island and find a giant sponge to clean off your hand. By the way, with the exception of escaping the island, none of this happens in the episode itself. We have about a good two dozen subplots all set off over the course of the game, from professional pirate hunters to the Voodoo Lady’s ex-boyfriend’s “erupting volcano,” but NOTHING gets any more development than “buy our next game, folks!”

By the way, unlike every other Telltale game, you have no choice with this one. If you buy the PC version, you HAVE to get the whole season. The Wii version isn’t out yet, but I guess you could buy single episodes then.

There’s no real reason to mention graphics. The Telltale Tool is showing its age more and more, but it does the job. That, and it keeps system requirements down. As long as your computer isn’t made of sharpened stones and operated by ancient blood sacrifices, you can run this. And if it is, hook me up, because I want one of those.

They actually managed to rope up all the old voice actors. They do a good job, although LeChuck’s voice sounds a little phoned in. Not a Bill Murray kind of phoned in, but still fairly close. As for the new characters, most of the acting is pretty good, althoguh the news reporter and “action figure” collector get grating after a while. The music is also typical Monkey Island, including a reprise of the famous theme.

Now comes the hard part. The gameplay is simply hit-or-miss, and it all depends on how you handle the controls. The game adopts the same gamepad-style system as Wallace and Gromit, using the WASD keys to move around and the mouse to use stuff. Unfortunately, the developers also decided to try another scheme. Remember Mario 64 DS, and trying to control that fucking thing using the stylus? Well, it’s just like that, only you have a mouse! You hold down the left button and then drag the thing in the direction you want Guybrush to move. It’s slow, it’s annoyingly fickle, it makes timed puzzles nearly impossible, and was simply a BAD IDEA.

The puzzle are actually pretty good, although a bit too easy. Still, considering this is the first chapter in a full game, that can be forgiven for now. Like previous Lucasarts games, you can’t die, leaving you free to torment Guybrush as much as your twisted heart desires. However, due to some design oversights, there is a puzzle that can break the game if done incorrectly. (Do not fire the cannon until after you have the U-Tube and the glassblower has broguht out the shell.)

The script is one of the game’s unfortunately weaker areas. It’s funny, to be sure, but not quite at the same level as previous Monkey Islands. It just seems to be missing some of the charm of the original, although that might just be nostalgia talking. If it follows the usual Telltale style, then the next episode will be less funny, followed by a third episode that will either suck royally (both Sam and Max seasons), or will actually be one of the best (Strong Bad, W&G). Still, that is more of a “wait and see” issue.

Overall, this game is worth a shot, especially if you are a Monkey Island fan. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good first shot, and the series holds a good amount of future promise.

Nice little review!

I LIKE the Sam n Max games! Whats wrong with them? I have season1 on Wii.

Good review, too. :slight_smile:

Nothing’s wrong with Sam and Max. The third episodes, however, are generally considered to be the weakest of each season. They aren’t bad, they’re just not very good.

I found the mouse-movement to be pretty ok once you’ve tried it a bit. Most of the time you just need to move enough to be able to see the object you want to interact with, and then you click that.
(Also, if you start moving and then hold down both mouse buttons, i.e. hold down the left and then press and hold the right, Guybrush will run.)
…Timed puzzle? I haven’t found any so far, so I’m kinda wondering what puzzle that would be. I’m stuck at the calendar right now, though, so I’m guessing it’s somewhere after that.