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Sharing my thoughts on ToMI

posted by ScummBarCook on - last edited - Viewed by 109 users

Hi everyone,

I haven't posted here before, but I've been lurking as I've been playing ToMI over the past week or so. Now I'm done, I thought I'd let Telltale (and the world!) hear my feedback on the series and see if people agreed with me.

Positives

-- The atmosphere is superb, thanks to the excellent artwork, voice-acting, and particularly the soundtrack. I'm a Monkey veteran: I first played SMI at the age of eight, and MI2 a year later, so the Monkey Island world is a place of childhood nostalgia for me. Fundamentally, TMI succeeds because it recaptures, and even improves upon, that world.

-- The game had some great one-liners and some laugh-out-loud moments. As a long-time adventure-gamer, I particularly loved Guybrush teaching LeChuck how to use the command system. Guybrush inhabitating the Voodoo Lady's body was great too.

-- The darker tone worked excellently, particularly in Chapter IV. The spooky atmosphere of Chapter V had a great deal of ambiance.

-- Some entertaining cut-scenes and fun experiments with camera angles. For example, the camera-angle in the court, where Guybrush and Stan are "seen from the balcony" as in TV a courtroom drama.

-- Two great new characters: Winslow and Morgan LeFlay. Winslow's double entendres make me smirk and his voice is a marvel. W.P. Grindstump cracks me up too.

-- Some "Aha!" moments in the puzzles. For example, the chokepoint in Chapter 1 when Guybrush is strapped to LeSinge's chair and has to escape. Overall, I liked the hint interface, which could be developed further, as I hate having to rely on a walkthrough.

For Improvement (here's hoping for another series ;) )

-- My main gripe is there were so few locations. I loved the environments for the art and music. But in each chapter, I felt disappointed as there seemed so little to explore. TMI's game world felt smaller than the worlds in MI2, with its wonderful island-hopping chapter and all its puzzles.

It was frustrating to encounter locked doors constantly in Chapter I. Why the lack of interiors scenes? Chapter II felt particularly disappointingly small, because of the appearance of Winslow's map which seemed to promise island-hopping, but most of the islands are one-screen deserts. Spinner Cay looked beautiful from what I could see, but there were only a few merpeople around and only really one location.

Why do we have smaller game worlds in 2010 than 1991? I can only guess it's because the graphics and sound makes an environment so much longer to create. But it's sad: now we have the capabilities to create truly beautiful in-game worlds, those worlds have shrunk.

-- Although there are some a-ha moments, the puzzles could be improved. In some cases, they do need to be harder. But a lot of the time, they just need to be thought out better. e.g. I spent ages trying to figure out how to move the rubber tree in Chapter 2, before checking the walkthrough to find out that I just needed to talk to Anemone.

-- A smaller gripe: some of the minor characters could have a few more lines, a bit more depth and a bit more variety in the voice-acting. I know MI is a comedy, but some of the humor based on nationality stereotypes were painful rather than funny. (DeSinge the French fop, Coronado the over-sexed Spaniard).

-- After the wonderful Chapters III and IV, Chapter V felt dull and repetitive to me. It started out well with the spooky ambiance, but the environment soon felt empty. Plotwise, there were so many twists and turns in the final two episodes that the story became hard to follow. Even for a comedy adventure game like MI, the complex mix of changing character loyalties and switching between worlds seemed far-fetched to me.

----
All in all, I'd say an 8/10 for the series. (Let's say Chapters III and IV get 9/10, Chapters II and V 7/10, and Chapter I 8/10).

It's great to see Monkey Island back. Full marks for authenticity: it felt like revisiting old friends. Make the next game a little bigger (in terms of locations), a little richer (in terms of story) and a little harder (in terms of puzzles) and that would be perfect...

Thoughts?

2 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • @ScummBarCook said: Plotwise, there were so many twists and turns in the final two episodes that the story became hard to follow. Even for a comedy adventure game like MI, the complex mix of changing character loyalties and switching between worlds seemed far-fetched to me.

    I remember an interview where one of the creators of ToMI stated that they were inspired by the kind of storytelling in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies which are full of those kind of plot twists.

  • @ScummBarCook said: -- The atmosphere is superb, thanks to the excellent artwork, voice-acting, and particularly the soundtrack. I'm a Monkey veteran: I first played SMI at the age of eight, and MI2 a year later, so the Monkey Island world is a place of childhood nostalgia for me. Fundamentally, TMI succeeds because it recaptures, and even improves upon, that world.

    I agree; Telltale executed that perfectly. It was certainly one of the greatest parts of the game, which is good seeing as how atmosphere is one of the most important aspects of making a good 'Monkey Island' game.

    -- The game had some great one-liners and some laugh-out-loud moments. As a long-time adventure-gamer, I particularly loved Guybrush teaching LeChuck how to use the command system. Guybrush inhabitating the Voodoo Lady's body was great too.

    Yes, the humour was as good as ever! Perhaps my favourite line of the entire series was "Get ready to be touched... to death!" - classic Guybrush.

    -- The darker tone worked excellently, particularly in Chapter IV. The spooky atmosphere of Chapter V had a great deal of ambiance.

    Agreed. It suited Episode 4 so well and worked really well for those darker, sadder moments in the episode. And the tone and atmosphere in the Crossroads/Pirate Purgatory really added to the mysterious feel of the place. The Crossroads was certainly my favourite location from the entire season.

    -- Some entertaining cut-scenes and fun experiments with camera angles. For example, the camera-angle in the court, where Guybrush and Stan are "seen from the balcony" as in TV a courtroom drama.

    Not to mention the camera movement when you click on the skeleton (in the courthouse), with that sharp zoom-in. That was also another of the funniest moments in the game, I thought.

    -- Two great new characters: Winslow and Morgan LeFlay. Winslow's double entendres make me smirk and his voice is a marvel. W.P. Grindstump cracks me up too.

    Winslow and Morgan were excellent. I've played all of the Monkey Island games and I love practically every character from each of the games, but Winslow and Morgan are two of my favourites. They easily rank among my top 10 favourite Monkey Island characters! I really hope they're included in future MI games. Heck, I wouldn't mind if they were included in every future Monkey Island game. They just have so much personality, uniqueness and depth, which can be attributed to not only the excellent writing, but the brilliant voice acting from Nikki Rapp and Roger Jackson.

    -- Some "Aha!" moments in the puzzles. For example, the chokepoint in Chapter 1 when Guybrush is strapped to LeSinge's chair and has to escape. Overall, I liked the hint interface, which could be developed further, as I hate having to rely on a walkthrough.

    As do I; luckily I didn't have to resort to using one (I usually don't ever, and try to avoid it at all costs). I didn't actually use the hint system that much, but there were times when I had to switch it on. And I agree that it could do with some development. Most of the hints were very vague, and only really outlined what your objective was, rather than giving clues or hints. In future games I'd love to see them go with a hint system similar to that seen in 'Jolly Rover' (feeding crackers to your parrot for hints), which was perhaps the best hint system I've ever seen.

    -- My main gripe is there were so few locations. I loved the environments for the art and music. But in each chapter, I felt disappointed as there seemed so little to explore. TMI's game world felt smaller than the worlds in MI2, with its wonderful island-hopping chapter and all its puzzles.

    Yes, it certainly was smaller. I, too, was a little disappointed, but I felt that it was reasonably substantial. I can't really expect too much more from episodic gaming.

    It was frustrating to encounter locked doors constantly in Chapter I. Why the lack of interiors scenes?

    I'm guessing they were all sort of being saved for Episodes 1 and 2. Also, they were probably still being developed and put-together. Episodic gaming is restrictive upon the developers. Also, there was no real calling for them yet. Sure, they would have been nice to see and explore, but they wouldn't have served any purpose in the overall gameplay or narrative at that point, as opposed to Episode 4.

    Chapter II felt particularly disappointingly small, because of the appearance of Winslow's map which seemed to promise island-hopping, but most of the islands are one-screen deserts. Spinner Cay looked beautiful from what I could see, but there were only a few merpeople around and only really one location.

    Yeah, I think there was sort of a collective gasp of hope among the MI players when e saw that map, and then a collective "aww" when we saw how bleak and small the islands actually were. I would have loved to have some slightly more detailed and bigger environments.

    Why do we have smaller game worlds in 2010 than 1991? I can only guess it's because the graphics and sound makes an environment so much longer to create. But it's sad: now we have the capabilities to create truly beautiful in-game worlds, those worlds have shrunk.

    Well, the main reason for this really is the episodic format of 'Tales of Monkey Island'. There's only so much time to create these episodes (a month, as well as prior pre-production). There really isn't time to put many different locations or environments within the episodes because they'd take far too long to create and implement. So, this sort of makes the island-hopping which we saw in 'LeChuck's Revenge', well... impossible. It could be done in the older games because they were released as one game, not in separate pieces. And the thing about having the game released in pieces is that they have to be sort of isolated and cut off from the other episodes; they can't be connected in terms of environments, which rules out the possibility of revisiting old locations, meaning that island-hopping is just something that can't be done due to the format and the time schedule.

    And this really is a shame. It shows that episodic gaming and distribution do have their down-sides, especially when the episodes are released on a monthly basic like Telltale are doing. This is why I'm thinking that, if Telltale are to make another ToMI season, they really should release the episodes every two months, rather than one. This would give them time enough to make the environments bigger, put more puzzles in the games and also include more characters and dialogue options. It would also enable island-hopping, which is a much-loved part of 'LeChuck's Revenge'.

    I've mentioned this idea before (multiple times), because I really think that bi-monthly releases really would benefit the episodes and enhance their quality. Because, as much as I love the episodic format, and as much as the month wait is hard enough to endure, I think that the games do suffer quite a bit.

    -- Although there are some a-ha moments, the puzzles could be improved. In some cases, they do need to be harder. But a lot of the time, they just need to be thought out better. e.g. I spent ages trying to figure out how to move the rubber tree in Chapter 2, before checking the walkthrough to find out that I just needed to talk to Anemone.

    Yeah, a lot of the solutions to the puzzles weren't complex at all, it's just that they were structured strangely and in a way that would have confused some players. As for them being more difficult, I agree. But there's only so much you can do with a one-click interface.

    -- A smaller gripe: some of the minor characters could have a few more lines[...]

    Very true. But, once again, this comes down to the restrictive time schedule of episodic distribution. Not only have the lines got to be written, but also recorded and implemented, and there probably isn't time for all of this. This being said, there are quite a few bonus pieces of dialogue that come from using items on some of the characters, even bonus [mini-]cutscenes (use+flyer+Voodoo Lady).

    -- After the wonderful Chapters III and IV, Chapter V felt dull and repetitive to me. It started out well with the spooky ambiance, but the environment soon felt empty.

    Really? I actually never found them to get repetitive, dull or boring; I enjoyed exploring them the whole way through. I felt ambiance you mentioned as well, but it was never lost for me - it was there throughout the whole episode. But I do understand how you felt as well.

    Plotwise, there were so many twists and turns in the final two episodes that the story became hard to follow. Even for a comedy adventure game like MI, the complex mix of changing character loyalties and switching between worlds seemed far-fetched to me.

    I never really had any trouble following it, but that's probably because I played each individual episode multiple times while waiting for the next one. I didn't really find the plot/storyline to be far-fetched, I just found it to be improperly filled-in. I understood what was going on, and I could believe it well enough, it's just that some more important parts of the story weren't given enough explaining and didn't really have their 'moments-in-the-sun' (I mean, what was actually in the Voodoo Lady's journal? How much did Elaine know about what was going on? What were her intentions behind giving Guybrush the ring?). If more parts were explained in greater detail, and if there was a little more foreshadowing going on in the earlier episodes, I think that it would have benefited the story and plot greatly.

    But, once again, I say that this comes down to the format and the time schedule. Things certainly could have been filled out a lot more had there been a little more time.

    It's great to see Monkey Island back. Full marks for authenticity: it felt like revisiting old friends. Make the next game a little bigger (in terms of locations), a little richer (in terms of story) and a little harder (in terms of puzzles) and that would be perfect...

    I agree with you on each of these points, and they could all be improved if only... well, I've already stated it multiple times here - if Telltale released the episodes every two months. More time is required for making a Monkey Island game. Sam & Max, it works fine, but MI requires a more open world, more dialogue and bigger, more serious and epic story.

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