It would seem as though the adventures of Guybrush Threepwood are like buses: you wait an age for one to arrive, and two turn up at once. Yes, soon, over nine years since Threepwood last sailed the seven seas, we’ll be able to replay the original adventure (and many may argue, best), The Secret Of Monkey Island on current generation hardware in the form of a retooled remake, complete with high-res graphics and full voice acting. As well as this retro re-release we also have some brand spanking new Monkey Island action in the form of Telltale Games’ five part episodic series, Tales Of Monkey Island.
The first instalment of this all-new adventure is the game we have here, and is entitled The Launch Of The Screaming Narwhal. Just what this horned whale is actually shouting about I’ll leave for you to discover, but suffice to say, we’re treated to some classic Monkey Island storytelling, with style, humour and oddball puzzles intact.
At the start of the game we see Dread Pirate Le Chuck once again gloating over a tied up and captive Elaine, unlucky spouse of self-proclaimed ‘Mighty Pirate’, Threepwood, and despite his best efforts, Guybrush once again fails, in his own indomitable way, to free his beloved, and after a strange turn of events he ends up stranded on Flotsam Island, a landmass that no one can escape, due to ever inward-blowing winds. With no clear way off the island and to rescue Elaine, Guybrush is forced to seek out the mysteries of Flotsam Island, and deal with a rather troublesome (not to mention humorous) curse he’s unfortunately picked up.
Tales Of Monkey Island is very similar in appearance to Telltale’s previous Sam And Max releases. There’s the same graphical style (albeit piratey and voodooey), and the control system, save for a couple of minor changes, is also the same. The level of detail in the environments is great, and it’s clear a lot of time and effort was put into the project to make it a bona fide Monkey Island outing.
Voice acting is superb, and all characters you meet are entertaining and funny, as are many of the situations Guybrush gets himself into. Puzzles, as to be expected from a Monkey Island title, are a mixture of straightforward logic and totally bonkers solutions (the cheese has eyes, the cheese has eyes!), and although a couple may have you stumped for a while, the answer is always approachable with enough thought. If you do get stuck, Guybrush occasionally issues subtle hints to you. The frequency of these hints can be altered, to make the game a little easier if you’re struggling.
There’s very little to complain about here, with the only real issue being the game’s length. As this is only part one of an episodic series, on its lonesome it’s not all that large, and most players will easily finish it off in a single sitting. However, the same also applied to Sam and Max’s recent outings, so it’s to be expected and not really much of a problem given the low price. If the length of the game concerns you, all you need to do is wait until all five episodes are released as one big pack. As long as the rest of the episodes measure up to this great opening act, then this could be a classic Monkey Island story. A great start to a new adventure, and I eagerly await part two.
Phew. I managed to get through an entire Monkey Island review without saying Arrrrrr… Awwww, crap!
The Tales Of Monkey Island: The Launch Of The Screaming Narwhal is available now.