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The Tone of Monkey Island - My Review and Suggestions for Future Episodes

posted by sladerlmc77 on - last edited - Viewed by 2.9K users

I melted the edge of my credit-card by whipping it out so quickly when tales of Monkey Island was first announced. Never before had I so willingly given a developer my money, and it was with great anticipation that I awaited the release date.

To prepare for the release, I re-read Treasure Island, Return to Treasure Island, Silver, and On Stranger Tides. I also rewatched the POTC movies, listened to the Monkey Island Soundtracks, and replayed Curse of Monkey Island.

Full Disclosure of Reviewer Bias:

I rate the original games, from worst to best, as follows -

Escape from Monkey Island - This bizarre entry in the series dropped the semi-serious nature of the storylines from the original games for full-on satire and social commentary. With a maddening interface, continuity botches (that were supposed to fix other continuity issues), and the most annoying minigame ever, this entry illustrated what NOT to do with the Monkey Island Franchise.

The Secret of Monkey Island - A classic that introduced the endearing characters of the Monkey Island Universe. With clever scripting, humorous dialogue, catchy themes and memorable characters, this game could have stood alone through the ages - thankfully, the developers had more up their sleeve.

The Curse of Monkey Island - A revolution in the Monkey Island Series, this game introduced painterly landscapes and characters, perfect voice casting and music, clever puzzles, and continuity fixes. Succesfully maintained the tricky balance between humor and dark undertones that existed in the previous entry.

LeChuck's Revenge: Monkey Island 2 - The gold standard. This game successfully evolved the series, giving much greater depth to the characters and their conflicts. Each of the existing characters had aged and moved on from their "Secret" origins, and technical enhancements changed the nature of how we listened to our games. The soundtrack was endlesslyl hummable, the puzzles devilishly sadistic, and the spooky/haunting undertones pervaded the entire game. The ending generated endless controversy, fueling speculation and discussions about the meaning of it all for years.

So how does Tales of Monkey Island: The Launch of the Screaming Narwhal hold up?

Story

The Launch of the Screaming Narwhal uses a plot device as old as the hills to start off the action - starting at the end of the previous adventure. We're in familiar territory - Guybrush is about to foil the latest voodoo plot hatched
by the evil Poxed-Pirate LeChuck, and in typical Threepwood-fashion botches it.

The introductory sequence serves as a capable tutorial, introducing us to the new Telltale Interface and walking us through a few simple puzzles, before cutting to the opening credits, Monkey Island theme, and washing up on Flotsam Island, where the remainder of the game takes place.

The player is immediately given a number of tasks, and is rarely left standing around wondering what to do. Stuck? You've usually got something else to try.

In this regard, Narwhal is scripted tightly enough to allow the player to determine what order to tackle their challenges, and the story remains internally consistent.

Dialogue options might occasionally cause you to crack a smile, but few lines are laugh-out-loud funny. (Notable exception - "You've got spunk in you, kid! Pirate Spunk!" "Ew!")

Earlier games in the series seemed to offer more choice, and greater potential for silly or spooky options. Hopefully, more dialogue options will be available in future episodes.

The puzzles can be deviously tricky, but never felt cruel or unfair. (The one exception might be the Marquis De Singe/Messed up Idol puzzle, but it seems I had more trouble with this one than other folks.) While the map puzzles may feel a tad repetitive, this reminded me of old-school adventure gaming and didn't really bother me. All-in-all, solid effort in puzzle work.

Script - 2/2
Dialogue - 1/2
Puzzles - 2/2

Average: 1.6


Art Direction

The art direction REALLY shines in the introduction to the game, with a beautiful spooky storm, rain, and lighting effects. Character models are superb, and the environment gave off the perfect Monkey Island Vibe.

Unfortunately, this took a hit once we arrived at Flotsam Island. The brooding atmosphere is lost and replaced with a sunny locale. This can certainly work on a tropical island, but the 3d environments and characters when brightly lit, look plastic-y. This ends up evoking memories of Escape from Monkey Island.

Main characters are beautifully rendered. Guybrush calls back to his "LeChucks Revenge" wardrobe, LeChuck is the devil incarnate, Elaine and the Voodoo Lady are gorgeous, and the Marquis De Singe (a character I was skeptical about) fairly reeks with personality.

Unfortunately, lesser characters are standard Telltale NPC's - Mr Potato Head models with fairly generic traits. Their names are easily forgotten as soon as their purpose in the story is exhausted.

Characters -
Main - 2/2
Secondary - 1/2

Environments - 1/2

Average: .66



Sound

The music of Narwhal has the familiar Monkey Island themes going on, but felt strangely derivative of the original themes. While the old standbys are good, I couldn't help feeling that the original music didn't feel...erm...original. Hopefully later episodes will have more standout themes that I can whistle in the shower.

The voice work in the game was excellent, thanks for the welcome return of Dominic Armato. Other voice actors also filled their roles well, particularly the actor providing the voice of the Marquis De Singe.

Sample quality could have been improved, but overall this game stands up well.

Music - 1/2
Voices - 2/2

Average: .75


Technical

The game was unfortunately marred by a few technical issues. The new interface (necessary to navigate the 3d interface), while serviceable, was not a joy to work with. The "click-and-drag" mouse option was difficult to use, and the keyboard option is not particularly friendly. A true "click-to-move" option such as the old Monkey Island games or the more recent Sam and Max games would be a welcome addition, "Cinematic-Display" be damned.

Also, a number of users (myself included) ran into technical issues with the display either upon startup or after resuming the game after making settings changes.

Fortunately, Telltale support was able to find a solution to my problem within 20 minutes of submittingthe ticket. Kudos to the Telltale Support staff!

Interface 0/2

Issues 1/2 (with 2 indicating no problems)

Average: .25



Judgement, Overall (NOT an overall Average): 1.4/2 (or 70%)



What worked Best:

The introduction had exactly the right tone.

Please give us more night scenes! Monkey works best when it's dark and spooky.

The puzzles were definitely Monkey Island, and I'd love to see more brain-teasers like the "Ninja Doll" puzzle and the "Cheese Wheel" puzzle.

Despite my skepticism, the Marquis De Singe was a show-stealer - give us more memorable characters like this!

I can't even begin to describe how much I loved the Flotsam Island Map - the zoom-out is a beautiful touch!

Inventory combination also worked great. Thanks for bringing this back!

General Advice to Telltale:

The story is serviceable to start with, but needs to ground itself more in "pirate reality." Monkey Island works when it's a serious pirate story with bizzare anachronisms (like Grog Machines).

It's harder to buy into when the spooky/voodoo atmosphere is lost, or when pirates don't feel especially piratey. (For examples of GOOD Pirates, see Mancomb Seepgood, Esteban, or Largo LaGrande. Bad examples include Ignatius Cheese, Davey Newspaperman, or Crimpdigit.)

The art direction seems solid, but could stand to have more
memorable "Lesser" characters. For an example of how to do this right, look at ANY character from LeChucks Revenge or Curse of Monkey Island. You could look at any of the background characters and know that they had a piratey backstory. Pirate Glassblowers are hard to take seriously.

The interface needs serious work - at no point did I enjoy guiding Guybrush through the TOMI world - with the exception of the map screen, which was point-and-click.

Greater Dialogue Choice/Snappier Lines will make future episodes more memorable.

What was Missed:

Memorable Background Characters. (Men of Low Moral Fiber, REAL Pirates in Bars)

"Meanwhile" scenes...(seeing developments going on elsewhere keep the idea of LeChuck front-and-center, and build anticipation of a future confrontation)

Whistlable Music - paying homage to the past is great, and all of the themes that need to be there were...unfortunately, the music called back a bit *too* much to previous tracks. I'd like to see something new.

Conclusion:

Screaming Narwhal is a fun diversion, but doesn't quite stand up to Sam and Max Season2, where all cylinders were firing.

If anything, the episode suffers most from being the "First Episode."

The greatest thing that could benefit future episodes is an examination of the "Tone" of the first 3 monkey island games.

In this episode, I feel like Telltale was aiming for a combination of "LeChucks Revenge" and "Curse", but instead achieved a combination of "Secret" and "Escape."

Still, a fun ride that leaves me anticipating more!

319 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • @Otis said: The humor is ok as it is, maybe excluding some of the weirdest bits. (manatee love making)

    But lets face it, the game looks childish. Its too cartoonish, it looks like a small kids` game. I mean the character desing is just a bit off, the heads are just waaaay too big in comparison with the rest of the body. (Morgan) Thats characteristic of games and tv shows targeted for small kids.

    I always found it sad when people associate cartooning with kids and kids only. I find that's the problem with video games as well.

  • Hey guys,

    So you know, I do still plan to write my review for the final chapter. I apologize for taking so long, and feel that you guys deserve an explanation.

    My son was born on November 8th of last year. The doctors knew immediately that something was wrong, but it took them awhile to make a diagnosis.

    Luke started his life with a series of blood draws, oxygenation, and two spinal taps.

    An enlarged liver and spleen, and extremely low platelet counts also pointed to issues.

    After a couple of transfusions, a diagnosis was finally made - he was born with a condition called Congenital CytoMegaloVirus.

    Most folks are carriers of CMV, and never realize it. It mimics a severe cold or mono in adults.

    It's only dangerous for infants who become infected in the womb. For most infants, this isn't a problem - most mothers have already contracted the virus prior to conception, and so pass on the immunity to their children.

    In our case, Lukes mother had never contracted CMV in her life - she caught the virus during the pregnancy, and Luke had no protection against it.

    He was born symptomatic, and there are a number of complications that arise from that.

    While spending a month to absorb all of this, we found that there was also a chance that he was positive for Cystic Fibrosis.

    CMV had seemed bad enough - CF was a potential death sentence.

    We immediately scheduled a sweat-test for Luke to try and determine whether or not he was positive for CF as well.

    Unfortunately, he didn't sweat enough during the appointment to make a diagnosis, and so we had to schedule another apointment - one month later.

    We spent the entire month on pins and needles - trying to maintain optimism, but also painfully aware of how he kept hitting bullseyes with negative consquences.

    Finally, at the start of last month, we performed a second sweat-test - and to our great relief, Luke was found to be negative for CF.

    The good news is that we're slowly getting his CMV under control, and he's gaining weight. He thankfully has dodged the worst effects of the CMV (at least, it appears so, so far)...and is a very happy, jolly baby.

    This last week has seen me dealing with a multitude of work issues which are also eating up my time...but rest assured that the final review WILL be written.

    It's definitely going to be the hardest to write, as I have greatly conflicting feelings about the final chapter.

    That said, I'm glad that you guys are still sticking around and have been patient with my lack of updates. It's been a great ride with all of you, and I hope you'll all stick around for Tales Season 2.

    (It's coming - we all know it. Fess up, Telltale!)



    Lorn

  • I'm sorry that you had to go through that. I couldn't even begin to comprehend what it would be like to go through that situation, but I'm glad that things are getting better and I wish the best of luck for you and your family in the future. 8D

  • @Chyron8472 said: WHAT? How can you not like the way Morgan looks? I mean, look at her, she's great.

    Oh, you did~ NOT, post her pose in Lair of the Leviathan! Damn, she was just LOVABLE there.

  • @sladerlmc77 said: Sad things

    Damn, that's rough. Must be a horrible situation... I can't imagine what it would be like if my son or daughter had been diagnosed with something like that. I wish you and your family all well and hope your son gets better and better by each passing day.

  • Lorn, I hope I can speak for all of us when I say that we hope your son gets better and that our feelings go out to you and his mother.

  • Hi guys,

    I can't tell you how many times I've tried to write this review. Every time, I've begun typing away, only to find myself pausing, and then closing down the browser window.

    I apologize for keeping you guys waiting for this review for so long...it wasn't my intention to draw it out this far, but the last episode left me with a variety of mixed emotions, and I'm still not sure that I can honestly say exactly how I feel about it.

    However, with the weekend announcement of the LeChucks Revenge Special Edition, the announcement for the DVD Release of Tales Season 1, and the announcement for the next Sam and Max Season, now seems like the perfect time to finish this series of reviews.

    Without further ado:

    Ranking

    As usual, here is my ranking of the original games in the series:

    Escape from Monkey Island
    The Secret of Monkey Island
    The Curse of Monkey Island
    Monkey Island 2: LeChucks' Revenge

    As in my last entry, I"ll refrain from giving my ranking for this latest episode until the end of the review. My ranking for the episodes leading up to the Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood are:

    Escape from Monkey Island
    Tales of Monkey Island - Launch of the Screaming Narwhal
    Tales of Monkey Island - The Siege of Spinner Cay
    The Secret of Monkey Island
    Tales of Monkey Island - Lair of the Leviathan
    The Curse of Monkey Island
    Tales of Monkey Island - The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood
    Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge

    Story

    Rise of the Pirate God opens on possibly the grimmest note of any Monkey Island Game in History - with Guybrush quite literally dead. (Well - mostly dead - he still clings to a shred of life, which may come in handy later.) After extricating himself from his own grave, he bargains with a strangely familiar ferryman to be taken to The Crossroads - where his ultimate fate will be decided.

    Once Guybrush figures out a way to pay the ferryman, he goes on a short journey through the underworld to be dropped off at the Crossroads - where he meets Galeb, a strange old man who wants to sell him a spirit photo.

    Due to lack of funds, Guybrush is unable to purchase the photo initially, but he is still able to glean some information from Galeb after some mind-bending conversation.

    It is revealed that there are three areas of the Crossroads which contain trials that will help determine the Pirate Spirits ultimate fate - Trials related to Swordplay, Thievery, and er...Treasure-Hunt-er-y.

    Guybrush also learns that only one person in history has ever escaped The Crossroads - The Ghost Pirate LeChuck - and that his secret may still be tucked away somewhere within.

    After a series of minor puzzles, the spell (and the components needed to create it) are collected. With a little help of the spirit of Morgan, Guybrush is able to open a portal from the Crossroads back into the mortal realm, and confront LeChuck, who holds Elaine captive on his Ship of Doom.

    Unfortunately, things don't go as planned. LeChuck plugs La Esponja Grande into the portal of the Crossroads, and transforms himself into the Pirate God - he also reveals that Guybrush has been dancing to his tune the entire time, and that the Cursed Cutlass of Kaflu that was designed to kill him will now be used as LeChucks implement to dispatch the Voodoo Lady, whom LeChuck views as the grand puppetmaster of both of their lives. He has corrupted it's voodoo essence to destroy any mortal hand that touches it.

    Hearing these words, Elaine turns to LeChuck and beseeches him to make her his undead bride. Using the power of Le Esponge Grande (and sucking power straight from the Crossroads), LeChuck converts Elaine into his willing bride, and challenges Guybrush...throwing the Cutlass of Kaflu into the mainmast of his ship.

    Too late does Guybrush realize that his noncorporeal form can't grasp the sword...as LeChuck taunts him, Elaine shoots Guybrush with a stream of voodoo root beer, dissolving him...and transporting him back to the Crossroads and Morgan.

    After a brutal pep talk, Morgan convinces Guybrush to fight on...and with a flash of inspiration, (and a little nudge given remotely by the Voodoo Lady) Guybrush conceives of a plot to locate the Voodoo Ladies Locket and re-possess his dead body, ressurecting himself in Zombie Form.

    Using conveniently placed rips in the Crossroads, Guybrush must go through another series of puzzles which take place at familiar locations, to both possess (and bind) his spirit to his now undead body.

    When he finally gets himself stuffed back into his corpse, he confronts LeChuck and Elaine once again. However, the Cursed Cutlass of Kaflu burns his hand at the touch...

    Taunting him a second time, Elaine pulls the sword from the mainmast and prepares to cut Guybrush down with it, but the timely arrival of Van Winslow with a flotilla and Vacaylian Reinforcements buys him some time.

    Realizing that LeChuck is too powerful with the Sponge still drawing Voodoo Energy from the Crossroads, Guybrush intuits that he must shrink the previously embiggened La Esponja Grande.

    Mocking him for his tenacity, LeChuck once again shoves him through the portal back into the Crossroads.

    Galeb proves useful in concocting an anti-embiggening spell, and Guybrush sets off to collect the ingredients that will be necessary to put the Sponge on a diet.

    Once the necessary reagants are collected and the Sponge is shrunken, Elaine reverts to her former self and Guybrush can confront LeChuck on his own ship.

    Elaine reveals her suspicions of the Voodoo Lady, and how she has been trying to show Guybrush all this time that she's been manipulating him for years. Van Winslow and the Vacaylians attack, and LeChuck freezes them in place with his awesome voodoo might.

    Finally annoyed enough to engage Guybrush directly, LeChuck knocks him around a bit, not noticing that Elaine is sneaking up behind him with the Cursed Cutlass of Kaflu. While offering his misogynystic view of what marriage to Elaine would be like, Elaine moves in for the kill, and stabs LeChuck from behind, the sword plunging through his heart.

    And that just pisses him off.

    Guybrush is thrown (AGAIN!) through the portal back into the Crossroads.

    LeChuck reveals to Elaine that he has drawn enough Voodoo Energy into himself to make him nigh-invulnerable. At this point, he can simply step through the rip into the crossroads and draw in as much energy as he desires.

    While taunting Elaine, LeChuck prepares to do just that...leaping onto the edge of the portal...only to be stabbed by Morgan on the other side. Morgan quickly tells Guybrush that LeChuck can be destroyed, but he must be taken on in both the physical and the spiritual realm at the same time.

    LeChuck strikes Morgan aside, picking up Guybrush and tossing him back through the portal (AGAIN) into the mortal realm.

    Thus begins the Battle Royale, with Guybrush and Elaine having to simultaneously take on LeChuck on board his ship. Guybrush takes one hell of a beating, with LeChuck taking out his years of frustration on Guybrushes weary undead body.

    Through a series of timed puzzles onboard the ship, Guybrush is shot from a cannon back through the portal (yet again) to arrive in the Crossroads.

    As LeChuck persues Guybrush, he is positioned ideally to be attacked on both sides...Morgan stabs LeChuck, and tells Guybrush that he needs to be trapped.

    Knowing that his shred of life can destroy the rips between the spirit and mortal realms, Guybrush sacrifices his shred of life to close the portal directly on LeChuck, who is held in place. Trapped by the portal, he is attacked in the spirit realm by Morgan, and in the mortal realm by Elaine. Shrieking in agony, Lechuck seems to be destroyed in a flash of blinding light.

    When Guybrush awakens, he is utterly alone, at the center of the Crossroads. After a moments thought, it occurs to him that his wedding ring embodies everything that is needed to open the pathway out of the Crossroads. Placing it in the center, Guybrush is magically reconstituted and whole, reunited with his wife and friends on the Screaming Narwhal.

    Roll Credits.

    MEANWHILE -

    Morgan approaches the Voodoo Lady, complete with a jar of voodoo essence and skull that moans suspiciously like LeChuck. After a bit of back-and-forth, it becomes clear that Morgan won her way free of the Crossroads with the help of the Voodoo Lady, whose plots apparently continue to wheel in the Monkey Universe. Can it be long at all before Guybrush once more has to face his fate?

    Script

    The script satisifes all the needs of the plot, in that it wraps up things and sets them up for the next installment in the Monkey Island Series.

    In goes a step further in delivering on the menace of LeChuck...who finally takes his bloody vengeance on poor Guybrushes body.

    However - this script left me feeling awfully flat. Many of the plot points that were resolved in this episode had been telegraphed ahead of time, which lessened their impact.

    More problematic was the nature of the puzzles in this episode, which seemed to work directly against the narrative. More on that in a moment.

    Dialogue

    LeChucks incessant taunting on board the ship was beautiful - it made the battle feel personal - and LeChuck fully intended to take his bloody due from Guybrush for all the pain and suffering that he and the voodoo lady have caused him throughout the years.

    Puzzles

    Puzzles are probably my greatest disappointment about this episode, and the series as a whole.

    A large part of the pay-off in these games (for me) is being able to complete puzzles to unlock additional content - usually in the form of new rooms, characters, and dialogue.

    Make no mistake - the art design of the Crossroads is gorgeous...however, by the time we got done traipsing through portal after portal, location after location, to find item after item, I WAS SICK OF THE DAMNED CROSSROADS.

    That in itself isn't enough to bring the puzzle elements down - until you consider two other irritants.

    The first is the nature of a number of these puzzles - many of them are timed, or require a solution within a certain number of actions. Failure forces you to repeat the scenario again. This is a BIG adventure game no-no, particularly if used more than once.

    Secondly, I encountered a bug in the game that had me tearing my hair out for over an hour, during one of these scenarios.

    On board LeChucks ship (during the unholy beating he gives you), I was unable to use my hook on the mainsail. It was one of the first things I tried, reasoning that this is standard thing to do in pirate fiction. The game didn't crash or anything...it simply didn't perform the action. After trying multiple times, I reasoning that I must have to do something else.

    I spent the next hour performing every other action necessary to move on with the story, only to finally have my rage stoked to the burning point at having to rewatch the sequences over and over again - and resorted to reading the walkthrough.

    Lo and Behold - I had done the right thing - the game simply didn't respond. I alt-tabbed back into the game, tried it again - still no go.

    Finally, I saved my game, exited out, came back in, loaded my saved game, and attempted the action again - this time it took.

    I was NEVER able to replicate this failure...as near as I can tell, it was a one-time bug - but it certainly soured a good deal of this episode for me. Too much of this episode felt like repetition and punishment.

    As a side note - personally, it also took the wind out of my sails to find out that after spending nearly an entire episode trying to get La Esponje Grande to grow, that I had to spend a large part of another episode to get it to shrink.

    The players actions in the series are also undermined if another character "knew it all along" - as Elaine claims at the end of the episode.

    Does Elaine always have a plan? Yes, she does. But her plan doesn't usually involve making the player feel like his actions have been a complete waste of time. In this case, she makes Guybrush look rather...foolish.

    Art Direction

    Nothing to complain about artwise - I just wish I wasn't seeing so much of it so often, over and over.

    Characters

    LeChuck: Can't say enough about the welcome return of Earl Boen. He still nails the character, and really makes the menace come through.

    Morgan: Morgan continued to be her adorable self, and even gains a bit of a dark edge at the end of the series. This proves to be interesting when she shows up in Season 2.

    The Voodoo Lady: Well...they've definitely thrown her motives into doubt, and it might be an interesting twist - but I'm not sure that I like the idea of "Voodoo Lady as villain." Call me sitting on the fence on this change - though the idea of LeChuck and Guybrush being eternally bound in a cycle of fate is interesting.

    Elaine: Aside from being scripted as maybe a bit *too* smart for her own good, I have no complaints.

    Music

    No complaints about the music - I quite enjoyed the reprise of the LeChuck theme, but that's about all that stuck out for me. The music of this series has actually been a little underwhelming for me overall, simply because there weren't any major themes that really stuck with me (with the exception of DeSinges.) It's possible I've also been spoiled by having orchestral scores in the past as well - hopefully that will be possible if further seasons aren't produced on the Wii.

    Voices

    Can't give enough kudos to Earl Boen and Dominic, who got to especially stretch his vocal talents in the fight scene. Its really something to be able to FEEL the pain the character is in through nothing more than a vocal performance.

    Technical

    I encountered two bugs while playing this episode...the first being the aforementioned hook/mainsail problem, and the second involving getting the locket using bubbles from the clam. Fortunately, I tilted to the clam bug early, and was able to exit and restart and proceed. The second bug had me going for over an hour.

    Judgement

    God, this is a tough one. One of the struggles that I've had while writing this review has been that it almost can't stand as a review of the episode alone - it almost has to be a review for the entire series.

    I feel that some of the story quibbles that I have are a case of Monday Morning Quarterbacking...but I can't help but feel that things wrapped up a bit too neatly, and too predictably.

    Honestly, I was expecting a bit of a twist, and a little bit more impact at the end.

    Someone else mentioned somewhere...wouldn't it have been interesting if the game simply ended at the Crossroads, with Guybrush all alone, and the camera slowly pulling back....?

    Sure, it might enrage the audience with shock for the first few moments...but what a gutsy ending that would've made, and what an interesting starting point for the next season!

    That said, even my story complaints are relatively minor.

    The same can unfortunately not be said for the puzzles - the puzzles in this episode were repetitive enough that I found myself actually wishing for the game to end. I wasn't having fun anymore - I felt that the puzzles in this episode were actively punishing me, just as LeChuck was punishing Guybrush.

    That's not to say they were hard...90% of the time I knew exactly what I had to do...but it was way too damned tedious to do it.

    I'm afraid for me, Rise of the Pirate God stands only above the first episode - Launch of the Screaming Narwhal.

    As for the series as a whole? Well...I can't say that I'm sorry to have played the season, and I think there were individual episodes that were pure brilliance. However, the series as a whole was awfully uneven, and most of the reason for that had to do with poor puzzle design and/or integration of the puzzles with the story.

    This reminds me mostly of the first season of Sam & Max, so I'm hopeful that some of these issues will be smoothed over by the time of Season 2.

    What Worked Best

    Definitely LeChuck opening up the can of Whoop Ass. It's nice to see him as a credible villain again.

    What was Missed

    Much as I hate to say it, for me, in this episode - it was "the fun."

    Advice to Telltale

    The best advice I can give Telltale at this point is to trust your instincts. So far, you've done *mostly* right, but I think there's some definite room for improvement, particularly with puzzle design and implementation.

    Quality control is also a bit of an issue - it might be wise to take a bit longer to design and bug-test each episode.

    Conclusion

    Sadly, for me, I'm afraid Season 1 was a mixed bag. That's part of why it's been so difficult for me to write this last review. I'm not sorry at all that we got more Monkey Island, and I do feel that if this were to be the last "game" in the series, that it definitely leaves it in a better place than Escape from Monkey Island did.

    Unfortunately, I do think that they can do better - and I'm hoping they rise to the challenge in Season 2. Thanks for bringing it back though, guys. I hope this last bit of criticism isn't taken too harshly...I have a feeling I'm being harder on it than others were.

    Ranking 2 (as indivdual episodes):

    Escape from Monkey Island
    Tales of Monkey Island - Launch of the Screaming Narwhal
    Tales of Monkey Island - Rise of the Pirate God
    Tales of Monkey Island - The Siege of Spinner Cay
    The Secret of Monkey Island
    Tales of Monkey Island - Lair of the Leviathan
    The Curse of Monkey Island
    Tales of Monkey Island - The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood
    Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge

    Ranking 3 (with all episodes treated as a single game)

    Escape from Monkey Island
    Tales of Monkey Island - Season 1
    The Secret of Monkey Island
    The Curse of Monkey Island
    Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge

  • Wow...I'm sorry you were caught out by a couple of bugs. If you weren't, I think it would mainly have been that trekking back and forth that annoyed you (it annoyed me too).

    The trailer for the new Sam & Max game looks so rich - they must have made improvements to their engine and got more people aboard. How? They started on that game before TMI and they've done so well with TMI that they've been able to expand.

    I am therefore confident they can do better with Monkey Island Season 2. They hadn't done MI for a long time when they did Season 1, had to modify the engine to be more Wii-compatible and didn't yet have any feedback from us.

    Also, after Ghost Pirates, I think we can appreciate the way Telltale do things all the more. GPoVI looked very nice but dialogue was shoddy, inventory combination puzzles were repetitive and the marketing was terrible (not to mention the ending was so rushed they dropped a FMV - reminiscent of Curse).

  • Nice job, as usual. The wait was worth it :)

    I mostly agree with your thoughts, although as usual i didn't mind the puzzles too much.
    You're definitely about LeChuck's full glory being finally back. I'm really glad they made him fearsome and dangerous again. This whole play on human lechuck was overall pretty well done, but it made you kinda doubt if it would be the case, and that made him even greater in the end.

    Concerning the bugs, i had another one when replaying the episode : When i waitecd to be keelhauled so i could pick up the keys, i got near the rope, and lechuck just wouldn't come. Since they're really not much else you can do at this spot, that was pretty frustrating. Had to reload just like you did, and i'm glad this didn't happen on the first playthrough or it would have been really weird indeed.

    Oh, and concerning Elaine, while i still agree with you on the general, i have to disagree with this particular sentence :

    Does Elaine always have a plan? Yes, she does. But her plan doesn't usually involve making the player feel like his actions have been a complete waste of time. In this case, she makes Guybrush look rather...foolish.

    Well... That's exactly what happens at the end on Secret, ain't it ;) ?
    But it did feel a bit weird this time around. I didn't really understand what she was actually trying to do and it all felt a bit artificial. I consider it a rather minor part of the plot, but it's still a bit annoying.

    I'm also not sure how i feel about the voodoo lady. Could be interesting, i guess, but i liked how she'd always been kinda neutral, knowing more than everyone else about what was going on but not saying much or really interfering with the situation. I definitely don't think she would work as an actual villain, but the idea of her manipulating everyone, maybe in order to preserve some balance of good and evil or whatever... Well, i dunno, why not, it just wasn't really developped enough in this season for me to really have any defnite opinion. Still might turn out cool, just not quite convinced right now.


    Sadly, for me, I'm afraid Season 1 was a mixed bag. That's part of why it's been so difficult for me to write this last review. I'm not sorry at all that we got more Monkey Island, and I do feel that if this were to be the last "game" in the series, that it definitely leaves it in a better place than Escape from Monkey Island did.

    Unfortunately, I do think that they can do better - and I'm hoping they rise to the challenge in Season 2. Thanks for bringing it back though, guys. I hope this last bit of criticism isn't taken too harshly...I have a feeling I'm being harder on it than others were.

    This reminds me of what i thought after episode 1... Tales was overall pretty good, i think, but after having seen Sam and max getting better and better with each episode and especially how good they had gotten by the end of the second season, it did feel like a drop in quality. It had some great things and ideas, but it did leave me kind of thinking "well... this is all good, but i KNOW it could be BETTER".
    Just like tbm1986, i'm sure they'll get better with the next season -they always do-, but that one was still a bit disapointing in that sense.

    In the end, i'd rank the different games as (worse to better) :
    Escape - Tales & Curse (really not sure which one's better) - Secret - Revenge.

  • I love the idea that many of you have had about the game ending with a panning back of the camera with Guybrush alone at the Crossroads.

    I wonder if, now that episodic gaming is going strong for TellTale, they'll be more gutsy about stuff like that.

    If we really want to think of these things as seasons with cliff hangers and so on, then we have to assume that they'll slowly start integrating those types of story telling elements into their work.

    I do wonder if there would have been an outcry about that ending from gamers who want closure, and I wonder if they couldn't risk that sort of thing when they weren't sure if they'd ever make another Monkey Island. You can't have that kind of ending if you aren't certain you're "picked up" for another season.

    I still think it would have been incredibly poignant closure for the story and it would have done what great novels and films do--leave you really puzzling through things for the months that you waited on the next installment. Instead we got traditional collapsing resistance--as if the sacrifice he made really meant nothing because it wasn't a sacrifice. That's probably my only complaint, and probably exists as much because it's what I do for a living.

    It didn't take away from how much I enjoyed the game, or how many laughs I had, or how I went and bought a friend a copy just so that he could try it. But, if I were workshopping the story, I'd certainly have questioned the collapsed resistance at the end.

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