Tales of Monkey Island Episode 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal

Posted by Jim Cook, Jul 10, 2009 10:25

I’m about to admit something that will get me kicked out of the Old School Adventure Gaming Elitists Club: I have never had a chance to play a Monkey Island game for more than a few minutes, and had to give myself a crash course on the series for this review so I’d recognize important names and characters. For those of you already familiar with the Monkey Island games, I can give you your review real fast before I cover the general audience: "Ron Gilbert has apparently given this new set of episodic games his blessing, the story is hilarious, Elaine and Guybrush’s original voices return (though Earl Boen does not reprise his role as LeChuck), and it’s just as good as you were hoping it would be. Go get it."

With that crowd taken care of, everyone else probably needs a little more explanation. Tales of Monkey Island is part of the point and click adventure genre, where you guide a character through a variety of locations in order to solve logic puzzles, talk with various characters, and generally have fun exploring a world. Unlike the King’s Quest series, the folks at Telltale and Lucasarts want you to win; it’s hard or near impossible to die or truly lose in these kind of adventures. The gameplay is admittedly basic, but that’s because it’s just the medium for telling a hilarious story, much like the Phoenix Wright series.

In the case of Tales of Monkey Island, you control Guybrush Threepwood, a self-described bumbling schmuck mighty pirate. This first episode quickly sets the stage; Guybrush’s wife has been abducted by the undead pirate LeChuck, leading to a showdown on the high seas. The ’problem’ is that Guybrush is only marginally competent at anything he does, and even when he has the right idea it’s as likely as not that something really unlucky will happen. Even in what should be his moment of triumph over his nemesis, things go wrong and Guybrush finds himself washed up on the shore of Flotsam Island. He’ll need a new ship so he can find his wife Elaine and confront LeChuck again, but that’s really just the start of his goals and troubles.

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Our Rating for Tales of Monkey Island Episode 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal
4.0 Replay
Like many adventure games, this one is very linear. That said, intentionally messing up a few puzzles and exploring as much of the world as you can will lead to some amusing results.
8.0 Graphics
Colorful and well designed, the world of Monkey Island looks great in 3D, retaining a lot of the charm of the whimsical art style this series uses.
8.5 Sound
Some classic Monkey Island tunes are expertly remixed, along with new music and all around entertaining voice acting that really carries this game’s humor.
8.5 Gameplay
An amusing story is backed by mostly intuitive puzzles, though I am not a fan of the new ’drag click’ method of moving through the game’s world.
0.1 Multiplayer/Online Content
Not Applicable; this is a single-player game only. But as a random aside, the credits list series creator Ron Gilbert as the "Visiting Professor of Monkeyology" and perhaps that makes up for the lack of multiplayer.
8.5 Overall
This episode turned me from only knowing Monkey Island by reputation, into being a fan of the series. Newcomers and long-time players alike will be thrilled with this!

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0

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