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

posted by sladerlmc77 on - last edited - Viewed by 2.4K 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
  • @TheMadSpin said: 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.


    It's not a hard idea to think up. I mean, that's what I thought the ending WAS for a couple minutes, before I realized the scene had transitioned from cutscene to a playable scene. From there, I opened the inventory and made the logical conclusion that the developers were going for. As much as the puzzle itself was very heartwarming, it would have probably impacted me more just to leave him there.

  • @Rather Dashing said: It's not a hard idea to think up. I mean, that's what I thought the ending WAS for a couple minutes, before I realized the scene had transitioned from cutscene to a playable scene. From there, I opened the inventory and made the logical conclusion that the developers were going for. As much as the puzzle itself was very heartwarming, it would have probably impacted me more just to leave him there.

    Exactly. It's not that I went "that doesn't make sense" or that I was angry for Guybrushe's good fortune.

    I just would have had more to think about in the mean time. It's why Empire is such a great Star Wars film--it leaves everything in chaos and misery, which leaves the audience perpetually in suspended wonder.

  • I wanted to go back and reply to the various posts that had been made prior to my review...I've been terribly delinquent in managing this thread over the last months, and didn't want to leave comments un-replied to.

    Here we go:

    Darylman:

    [quote]I really thought the end fight with Lechuck was "neat" but it was somehow hollow. It harkened back to MI1, but whereas in that scenario it was perfectly obvious what to do, this felt a little forced. I really thought the fact you had to get Elaine to do all the work was not a very well thought out puzzle.[/quote]

    I didn't mind so much that Elaine and Guybrush had to work together to position LeChuck between the mortal world and the Crossroads - but I did mind that Elaine had supposedly known what was going on all along, and was just trying to bring Guybrush around.

    Astro Gnocci brings this point up later, asking "Isn't this exactly what Elaine does at the end of Secret of Monkey Island?"

    Well...yes...and no.

    In SOMI, Guybrush and Elaine were not yet an item. It's not surprising that they would be persuing parallel schemes independently of each other.

    In LeChucks Revenge, they've been estranged...and even though Elaine has succesfully made her way to the "X" where Guybrush is perilously hanging from rebar, it doesn't destroy any of Guybrushes accomplishements for her to be there.

    In Curse, she's flat taken out of the running by the Cursed Ring.

    In Escape, she may boss Guybrush around a bit, but he's still relatively independent...and for all of her smarts, it's obvious that the couple love each other, and that Guybrush gets along fine when working on his own.

    And that's the real problem here. For Elaine to have manipulated Guybrush this way, it basically underscores the problems in their relationship. Shouldn't she just have...I dunno...TALKED to him?

    To NOT do so...and to basically ham-fistedly try and show Guybrush that he's been manipulated, shows that she doesn't really respect him, despite her words to the contrary at the climax.

    This is one time when Elaines "plan" should've backfired on her.

    [quote] Telltale does a GREAT job in the specialty puzzles. The Lechuck one included, just a great job. From being in Desinge's grips to the fight with Morgan, this is where Tellltale and the entire season shined, BRIGHTLY. The other puzzles were, usually, disappointing.[/quote]

    I think it depends on the puzzle. A lot of the action-oriented puzzles (such as the swordfights) were very clever. I think a large part of my problem with most of the puzzles in this series was that they felt rushed...almost as though the developers said "Well, we need a puzzle here...guess this will work well enough." In those episodes where the puzzles were integrated into the story (Specifically, Lair of the Leviathan and the Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood), I felt like I got a LOT out of them.

    Rise of the Pirate God, on the other hand, felt like an excercise in tedium...and worse, required you to UNDO many of the actions you'd spent so much time doing in the previous episodes.

    [quote]The Crossroads was "neat" I guess, but again, not really very monkey islandish. I thought when I saw that the boat was on what sounded like a roller coaster track that we were going somewhere interesting, but alas, we weren't. Was that ACTUALLY the crossroads? I sure hope not, because it was pretty dull. If it is somehow revealed that it is the Voodoo Lady's specific purgatory for a boring afterlife, that might redeem it somewhat.[/quote]

    I don't think I can agree with you here - at least, not from an Art Direction perspective. The Crossroads...partiularly where you meet Galeb...were almost exactly as I had envisioned it - a gray twilight realm, that represents limbo. Deaths waiting-room, as it were.

    My complaints had mainly to do with the fact that there were no "gated" sections of the Crossroads...I didn't feel rewarded by discovering new sections of the afterlife, because you could freely travel through it from the start.

    Also - Galeb was a bit of a letdown for me. I believe Galeb is also supposed to be Nor Treblig, who (I believe) is supposed to be standing in for Papa Legba, in Voodoo Mythology.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papa_Legba

    He's a very powerful figure in Voodoo, and you can see where the design for the symbol of the Crossroads in Tales came from here. Galeb is an anagram for "Legba", and his appearance perfectly matches how Legba is described.

    But I almost would've liked to have seen Guybrush having to negotiate with Papa Legba...and perhaps taking on some curse himself in order to destroy LeChuck. (Or perhaps owing a favor to his spirt patron). That could've cast an interesting light on Guybrushes future, as well as been a more suitable (and real) sacrifice for him to make.

    Telltale opted instead to treat Galeb as the Trickster, which is not wrong - but I felt that he could've had a more sinister/powerful side to him.

    Kroms:

    [quote]You know, a darker tone doesn't necessarily translate to a more atmospheric, or even scarier, experience. The light parts do work. Spinner Cay had an alluring charm that Monkey Island never hinted at, and it works. The puzzles in the game probably needed a bit more integration into the plot - I think Leviathan's success largely stems from this - but it was a different take on what made Monkey Island so special, and the whole thing was really quite beautiful.[/quote]

    I don't disagree - I'm not suggesting that Monkey Island needs to be all dark...just that it likewise doesn't need to be all light. BALANCE is the key...but I think the dark portions of the tone help to ground the characters such that you actually care for them. Even though they inhabit a goofy, semi-cartoon reality, they can still be scared, they can still be hurt, and this helps us to care about what happens to them.

    When you stray TOO far from the Darkness, you get Escape from Monkey Island. That said - this isn't horror or film noir. The goofyness releases the tension for those dark moments that we have.

    [quote]I mean, I like a dark tone too, but there's been people suggesting that Guybrush wear a black coat. There's a YouTube comment complaining that the updated "LeChuck Theme" from SMI:SE is not "dark" enough, maybe with too strong a ska flavor. I'm sorry, do you want me to play a Birthday Party riff with that?[/quote]

    Eh...that's ridiculous. Guybrush isn't a "black hat" kinda guy, and if folks think we need to go THAT dark, they need their head examined.

    It's funny, but when I think about the Tone of Monkey Island, there are two touchstones for me that always come to mind - the first being the grog machine at Stans, and the second being LeChucks threats of what he will do with Guybrushes bones when he's done torturing him.

    On one side of the equation, you have such a silly, out-of-place item - but you just accept it. Why? It doesn't make a lick of sense, but you laugh, and you just accept that of course there are Grog machines in this world.

    On the other side, you have a dark, threatening, scary moment...that forever made me truly fear what LeChuck would do to Guybrush if given the chance. Why? Because he actually had a serious motivation, and the power to carry out his threat. To neuter that threat lessens the character.

    These two extremes of tone need to be in balance with one another (and both must be serviced!) to succesfully carry off the Tone of Monkey Island, in my mind.

    [quote]You need contrast. It's what makes black comedy work so well. It's why the shock of Guybrush's death worked so well.[/quote]

    Don't disagree with this at all.

    Uzrname:

    [quote]I think this whole review is a tad bit exaggerated in criticism. The point of view is very subjective...[/quote]

    Well, naturally. Any review is going to be subjective to the view of the reviewer. That said, it doesn't mean we can't find areas of commonality and other areas to debate.

    [quote]...and the tone of this very review (sorry for the pun) is, to me, somewhat negative.[/quote]

    Hmm...are we talking about my views of the original games, or the review of the particular episode in question?

    [quote]But I won't go into detail because after 15 pages of comments, it would take a month to properly construct the right argument.[/quote]

    Personally, I'd love to hear your comments...I certainly took longer than a month to return, so you've got time!

    [quote]What I find absolutely angsty, however, is the p.o.v. you throw like this on readers, telling that EMI was clearly an epic fail and LCR was an epic win.[/quote]

    Nope. I didn't say that EMI was an epic fail. As many people have said, standing on it's own, without the baggage of the other games, it's a perfectly serviceable adventure.

    The problem that I have with Escape has to do with it's sharp departure in Tone from the other games - and more specifically, the fact that it threw serious Monkey Wrenches (pardon the pun) into previous continuity. Rather than fixing errors, it actually introduced more. To my mind, this showed disrespect to the previous entries in the series.

    Does that equal epic fail? No...but I do feel that the developers of Escape felt like they were in a bit of a story straight-jacket, and reacted by resorting to satire and commentary, as opposed to telling a consistent story.

    I think you'll find very few people who don't see Escape as the "Black Sheep" of the family - that said, I don't hate it, and do accept it as canon.

    [quote]Once again, the whole position is very debatable, but I personally wouldn't say that EMI "ruined the whole series".[/quote]

    I didn't say that either. I did say that I didn't think that it was the appropriate place to END the series, and thankfully, now that we have Tales, it isn't the place where it will end in any case.

    [quote]At the same time, I wouldn't call LCR so successful either. Sure, it was an overall improvement to the first game, but the series lacked cartoonism, which made it a realistic game with mood similar to that of Indiana Jones franchise (at least).[/quote]

    I might need some clarification here - are you talking about the series up to that point, meaning SOMI and LCR, or...?

    I'm not sure I could say either of those games werent' cartoony...it's not often that you deal with voodoo infested ghost pirates by spraying them with voodoo root beer?

    [quote]Furthermore, the plot was already starting to get stale by LCR (not saying that it wasn't in EMI), but the lack of cartoonishness made it so that the whole game was probably perceived more mature than the developers had expected it to be.[/quote]

    I'm guessing that you're talking about cartoonishness in reference to the Art Style, prior to COMI. I don't think I can agree with you on these points...I don't know that you could say that the plot was getting stale by only the second game (which differed in significant ways from the first one), or that the game could ever be mistaken for being serious. (We do stuff enormous things in his pockets throughout the game, and the spitting contest alone is pretty cartoony.)

    [quote]CMI, on the other hand, had it all: the cartoonishness of an epic screen story combined to the verisimilitude of everyday situations. That and, of course, the whole effort of that drawing, voicing, animating and donut-devouring cast.[/quote]

    In terms of art style, yes. COMI had reached film-level quality animation by that point, and was gorgeous. I don't feel that it had really changed tone in the plot, however - with the possible exception of making LeChuck somewhat less vicious. That said, I never had any questions abou the tone of COMI.

    [quote]So to sum up my idea, though when compared all together, EMI does fall into the last place of overall reviews on the web, however, if you count each game in its time, they all had pretty good influence and some success, more or less. Therefore I think that throwing that much dirt into EMI's face would probably be wrong.[/quote]

    I think you may've over-read my comments about Escape. I do feel that Escape clearly illustrates what NOT to do with Monkey Island, but I can respect it for what it is...a flawed game that has some entertainment value, but (for me) is the least enjoyable in the series. Heck, no matter which series you play, SOME title has to come in in last place.

    Kroms:

    [quote]EMI is fine, really. It just has some misplaced ideas like a robot monkey, and is vastly overwritten in parts.[/quote]

    God, that damned Robot Monkey. I think that was the last straw for me in Escape, simply because I always wanted to take another delve down that Monkey Head.

    If we ever DO return to Monkey Island again, I hope the Monkey Head will be back. They don't need to explain it. Just let me take another dive down its gullet into the underworld.

    BTW...one of the things I liked BEST about Escape was the Church of LeChuck on the Island. It was creepy, and in a way foreshadowed the Rise of the Pirate God.

    [quote]LCR would be the best of the bunch if it weren't for those sadistic puzzles. I'm re-playing it and stuck on finding the fourth map piece - helplessly stuck. It's frustrating and not fun at all.[/quote]

    Really? I don't remember ever having gotten stuck in LCR for very long, but then again, it's been some number of years since I've played it. I'm looking forward to playing it again with the release of the SE soon.

    [quote]lso, for something that is remembered for being so "dark", a decent chunk of LCR is pretty light-hearted. I mean, they do remind you every once in a while that a certain zombie pirate is out to get you (the cutscenes after getting each map, the scene with the dancing skeletons), but really, the game has you conning a guy of his prized fishing rod, picking up an old dog to get a map and even a scene where Guybrush falls, Chuck Jones-style, in a trapdoor, though admittedly into a room with a corpse.[/quote]

    ...and it's that juxtaposition of moods and tones that I find so hilarious. The game succesfully balances laugh-out-loud funny with horror. (Think Rap Scallion in the burned-down weiner hut.) That's a tough balancing act.

    Uzrname:

    [quote]I'd say its only major problem (beside problematic 3D graphics) was those inconsistencies in the plot. It's not just the robot, there's the whole how-come-Marley-is-Toothrot thing too, and Ozzie Mandrill that people go pretty much WTF is this at.

    At one time Guybrush says to a monkey: "Oh ok, I'll do it for the kids", which made me think that probably EMI was also aiming younger audiences than the other series, which would also explain the whole inconsistency shtick.[/quote]

    Exactly...that lack of consistency actively pulls the player OUT of the immersion...it's almost like being splashed in the face with cold water. In this way, I felt escape actually worked against itself in a way that none of the other games ever did. It was simply TOO self-aware, and too eager to provide commentary on a variety of things (politics, commercialism) than to simply just exist as itself.

    Kroms:

    [quote]I thought the art direction impressively balanced the more "serious" look with CMI's cartoony look, but I will agree that the heads are too big. The guy who helps Guybrush on the beach - "My nose! My beautiful pirate nose!" - is an example of that.[/quote]

    I actually love the art design of most of the characters in the Telltale Series. Like most of you, I got tired of seeing re-used character models, but I actually sorta looked forward to seeing that guy punched in the first episode again.

    For some reason, that line really cracked me up..."My nose! My beautiful Pirate nose! I'll get you for this!" I kept expecting this guy to pop up somewhere in a later episode and somehow sabotage some intricate plan of Guybrushes at the worst possible moment. Sadly, it was not to be.

    Uzrname:

    [quote]In Tales, you don't have that. They move like humans, talk like humans, lips synch, and how many are there facial expressions, from eyebrow raising to this "I see what you did there" look. You tell me![/quote]

    This is one area where I can't give enough Kudos to Telltale. They do some AMAZING things with facial expressions in this series (particularly with the eyes.)

    In the first episode, when Guybrush is about to spray the Cursed Cutlass of Kaflu with the Fizzy Root Beer, and drops the bottle...

    "Whoops!" His cringe is amazing, and his facial expression conveys everything you need to know...embarassment, shame, fear, the whole nine yards. These character models really are acting through physical movement.

    tbm1986:

    [quote]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.[/quote]

    I am too...Sam and Max only got better as they progressed from Episode to Episode, and in Season Two everything tied back to every other episode in a very smooth, tightly written way.

    I'm hoping the same effect will be seen with Tales. I think a lot of the reason there was the unevenness in this season is largely because of the different teams producing the episode. This is a given with them producing these games so quickly, but there did oftentimes feel like there were differences in Tone even between the episodes, or different design philosophies. Smoothing those over in Season 2 will improve the experience greatly, I imagine.

    Astro Gnocci:

    [quote]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.[/quote]

    No question. They've brought LeChuck full circle, and restored him as a credible threat. That had to be tough, after playing a second banana through most of Escape.

    [quote]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.[/quote]

    I won't lie...it went a long way toward souring me on the episode. I understand that's not really a problem with the way the episode was scripted...so it's hard to count that as a mark against it. However, even when replaying the episode, covering the same ground over-and-over and undoing events from previous episodes that we'd worked so hard to accomplish left me growling at the last episode.."GET ON WITH IT."

    [quote]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.[/quote]

    I've given my misgivings for Elaines behavior above, but I wanted to mention another thing about it here. It DID feel artificial...and solely for the convenience of the plot. By making Elaine practically omniscient with regards to the Voodoo Lady and LeChuck, it conveniently explains her behavior in the rest of the episodes. Unfortunately, that's not terribly realistic...particularly when you consider that as half of a loving couple, she REALLY should've talked to her husband about her concerns, instead of manipulating him to see things her way. In this way, I felt like I could only chalk this up as "lazy writing."

    [quote]I'm also not sure how i feel about the voodoo la

  • @Rather Dashing said: It's not a hard idea to think up. I mean, that's what I thought the ending WAS for a couple minutes, before I realized the scene had transitioned from cutscene to a playable scene. From there, I opened the inventory and made the logical conclusion that the developers were going for. As much as the puzzle itself was very heartwarming, it would have probably impacted me more just to leave him there.

    As the Monkey Island series belongs to LucasArts and we are licensing it, we could not easily leave the end of the game in an irreversible place. I don't know if we ever seriously considered leaving Guybrush trapped in the crossroads, but I also don't know if any of us would be opposed to it. This came up on the DVD commentary track but I can't remember exactly what was discussed. (Get the DVD to find out! :) ... or I will try to remember.)

    @Rather Dashing said: She should be ultimately a force of balance in the universe, though it makes sense that both LeChuck and Guybrush would view her as pulling their strings, and resenting her for it.

    [...]

    Making her a villain would be a mistake.

    Agreed, at least in my opinion. Seeing the Voodoo Lady in Tales as a force of balance in the MI universe is exactly right. Guybrush and LeChuck seeing her as pulling the strings, too. I can't speak for anyone else, but I have never seen her as a villain and still don't after Tales. I do think that from some points of view (eg Elaine's) she appears to go too far and tread into antagonistic territory, but from her perspective (and surely from certain outside perspectives) she is a disconnected party who is trying to keep things level and safe, if at a cost.

    I've been suspicious of her as a character ever since it was noticed that she's shipping supplies to LeChuck in MI2, though. She always presents herself on the most surface level as being benevolent (or won't commit either way), and even in the early games her story was never straight when you tried to confirm it from person to person (she told Largo she was the one who did in LeChuck's ghost). It's clear that to some degree she deals in misinformation and playing multiple sides for her own means, even if the scale isn't always as large as Tales (though maybe the story of Tales only blew up the way it did because this is the time the characters in the universe noticed that this double dealing was going on). 3 and 4 largely dropped this and made her into a more benevolent adviser, but it's not like that weirdness and not-fullly-trustworthiness is a new thing if you look back.

  • Yeesh, you Monkey fans with all your clamoring for darkness and despair. It's a pirate game, not the Holocaust.

  • @Kroms said: Yeesh, you Monkey fans with all your clamoring for darkness and despair. It's a pirate game, not the Holocaust.

    *SNICKER* Haha! Well put, Kroms. :)

  • @Kroms said: Yeesh, you Monkey fans with all your clamoring for darkness and despair. It's a pirate game, not the Holocaust.

    This. Making something 'dark' and 'edgy' =/= better game. ETA: Having said that, I'd also like to add that I think Tales reached a really good balance with Episodes 4 & 5, which both had genuinely dark moments yet managed to keep the game feeling like Monkey Island. I'm not averse to a game having dark elements, but IMO, with Monkey Island it can't lose its humour either.

    @Kroms said: Voodoo Lady musings

    This as well. I don't see the Voodoo Lady as a villain, but I also wouldn't class her as a 'good' character. She's trying to preserve some kind of cosmic balance known only to her, using whatever means necessary. Either that or it's all part of a scam to make sure that business is always good, that voodoo lifestyle isn't free after all...

  • @Kroms said: Yeesh, you Monkey fans with all your clamoring for darkness and despair. It's a pirate game, not the Holocaust.


    The latter would obviously be this, which also would answer the question "what are trains?", through probably not in the way TTG intended...

  • Jake:

    [quote] As the Monkey Island series belongs to LucasArts and we are licensing it, we could not easily leave the end of the game in an irreversible place.[/quote]

    This is sort of what I expected...but at the same time, I can't help but re-read the sentence and put the emphasis on the word "easily." That means that it wouldn't have been impossible, no?

    After all, as I understand it, the scripts did have to be approved by Lucasarts beforehand...

    That said, I'm sure they wouldn't have made any decisions about a second season of Tales until the first season had concluded.

    I hope they'll have gained the confidence to give you a bit more leeway in future Seasons.

    [quote]I don't know if we ever seriously considered leaving Guybrush trapped in the crossroads, but I also don't know if any of us would be opposed to it. This came up on the DVD commentary track but I can't remember exactly what was discussed. (Get the DVD to find out! ... or I will try to remember.)[/quote]

    I can't wait to hear this on the commentary track...I'd love to have been a fly on the wall during those story discussions.

    [quote]I can't speak for anyone else, but I have never seen her as a villain and still don't after Tales. I do think that from some points of view (eg Elaine's) she appears to go too far and tread into antagonistic territory, but from her perspective (and surely from certain outside perspectives) she is a disconnected party who is trying to keep things level and safe, if at a cost.[/quote]

    That's the part I'm interested in finding out in Season 2. If she is indeed a force that attempts to keep things in balance, surely there is some opposing force she is working against. That means that the greater danger would be not maintaining that balance. I'd like to see exactly what it is that scares the Voodoo Lady enough to keep LeChuck and Guybrush in this endless cycle.

    [quote]I've been suspicious of her as a character ever since it was noticed that she's shipping supplies to LeChuck in MI2, though. [/quote]

    I always viewed that as just good business sense. May as well profit from both sides of the fence.

    Kroms

    [quote]Yeesh, you Monkey fans with all your clamoring for darkness and despair. It's a pirate game, not the Holocaust. [/quote]

    Who's clamoring for darkness and despair?

    Look at it another way...in my discussion above, I mentioned that these characters will have dealt with some scars and need some time to heal, but I'm not meaning that in a literal way - nor am I suggesting they should be angsty about it.

    What I AM suggesting is that the characters should grow and have doubts.

    Way back when Star Trek: The Next Generation was still on the air, I remember having a long discussion with a fellow fan about the novels. I enjoyed reading them at the time, but he countered that it was pointless because they didn't affect continuity within the universe. For that matter, episode-to-episode continuity on the show could get dicey.

    But the novels were worse...it was fore-ordained that no story could have a lasting impact on the characters. By the end of the novel, everybody had to be returned to their starting position - this made every novel a zero-sum effort.

    After that, I never could quite enjoy reading the Star Trek novels.

    Contrast that with the Star Wars novels. While their quality has varied over the years, later in the Bantam line, the publishers realized they were falling into the same trap that the Star Trek novels did - and they decided to do something about it.

    They started killing a few minor characters. "Dark", you might say...but it had the intended effect. It showed that the characters were now considered mortal...and that not even major characters were exempt from being impacted by death or loss.

    Now suddenly, the outcome of every novel was not assured before you read it...and it made the investment in the characters greater.

    We already know that characters in the Monkey Island universe can grow and change...Guybrush has undergone major changes throughout the series - I just think it's important to continue that trend. (And letting him keep his hook might've been a great way to do it - he was even disappointed to lose it!)

  • @Jen Kollic said: ETA: Having said that, I'd also like to add that I think Tales reached a really good balance with Episodes 4 & 5, which both had genuinely dark moments yet managed to keep the game feeling like Monkey Island.

    I didn't know ETA meant something else apart from "Estimated Time of Arrival". What does it stand for here?

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