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August 17, 2009 | by  | in Games |
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The Glorious Return of Monkey Island

“You have the sex appeal of a shar‑pei. I look that much like your fiancee?”

It’s back, baby. Monkey Island. Fuck yeah, I’ve been waiting ages for this. This year Telltale Games announced they would be continuing the legendary, the epic, the humorous, the frightening the motherfucking engrossing, swashbuckling, lavishly adventurous, Monkey Island series. Better still they have decided to release it in five chapters—so I can play it in nice bite-sized pieces without ruining my honours writing schedule. Thank you Telltale, you think of everything *heart*.

The Monkey Island series has defined a generation of gamers, starting off way back in 1990 with the original Secret of Monkey Island on good old MSDOS. Back in that heyday of gaming, the adventure game ruled supreme. You didn’t need intense Starcraft strategy micros or Counter strike 1.6 AWM flickshots to be pro (oh, and btw, Fps_bob, getting 22-0 on cs_assault ain’t leet, n00b. Winning six MGL titles is. Zing! – 1v1 de_dust2 long A only, let’s go. Live on 3. Take it or leave it.)

What you needed was patience, skill, lateral thinking and a little luck. Adventure games forced you to think—you needed to collect objects, use them in interesting ways, find new information, complete puzzles, fuck, you even had to engage bits of your brain with other bits of your brain you didn’t know your brain knew about. Adventure games were intense, but oh, so satisfying. The genre was so popular that a virtual parthenon of titles were elevated to epic win status (before epic win was even a meme I might add), and catapulted developers Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman to the gaming hall of fame. Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Full Throttle… ah… the memories.

But above this gaggle of gloriousness, Monkey Island was the king and it reigned supreme from its tastefully decorated Caribbean throne.

Sigh, enough of my self-indulgent memory wank.

The Monkey Island series (all five games so far) follow the story of Guybrush Threepwood (mighty pirate!), who, in his quest to become the greatest pirate the world has ever seen, falls in love, fights with other pirates, engages in rhyming insult swordfights, collects booty and treasure beyond his wildest dreams, and manages to continuously incur the wrath of the Zombie-Pirate-Ghost-King, LeChuck. Throughout the series Guybrush chases LeChuck around the Caribbean, as they compete for the affections of Elaine Marley—Guybrush’s squeeze, and LeChucks habitual booty (pun!). Tales of Monkey Island (so far) follows the same pattern—Guybrush, who’s just completely stuffed up taking out LeChuck once and for all, also manages to let Elaine once again be captured by the nefarious Zombie—in the resulting prologue scuffle, Guybrush ends up exploding his ship, and soon becomes marooned on Flotsam Island, and must find his way off. So begins chapter one—the Launch of the Screaming Narwhal.

You must direct Guybrush off the island, using your intellect and problem solving skills. And boy does it deliver. The graphics are cartoony but superb, the audio is sublime, and the general “feel” of the gameplay (something that is so, so, so imperative to a continuous adventure series of such magnitude as Monkey Island) is authentic. After some initial acclimatising you feel right back at home in the Monkey Island universe. This is mostly down to the return of almost all the original voiceover cast members (aside from LeChuck, which is lame), and it’s a nice touch. Thankfully, there are new added features, such as a sliding hints option so that if things are getting too hard, you won’t be put out—but this is cleverly integrated into the game mechanics, so higher hint levels will mean that characters will provide you with more information or drop more obvious clues. The witty repartee and pop culture references have also been updated, so that the numerous zings that Threepword imparts are funny AND topical. Delicious.

There’s not much to find at fault here—but if I was being nitpicky, I would mention that releasing the fifth installment of the series in five (rather short) episodes is frustrating. Having successfully managed to solve all the puzzles and get Threepwood off Flotsam, I now have to wait until August 20 to see what happens next—and then until September, October and November for the next installments. I’m hoping that these time lapses will allow Telltale to preemptively fix suspected bugs, and also update content.

I’m yet to meet Murray the talking skull, or Griswold Goodsoup—but the Voodoo Lady has soothed my craving for Monkey Island nostalgia so far, and I’m pretty sure Murray isn’t far away (you just get the feeling he is about to pop out at any moment). I eagerly await the next installment and I implore all adventure game fans to buy this game. This is a series that consistently refused to take itself seriously, and as a consequence it’s irredeemably fun to play. And if you tune into the Retro Vice Drive on the VBC 88.3FM, Mondays 4-7pm you might soon hear about the next chapter as well. Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal doesn’t disappoint—take a break from your second life (WoW—or Second Life if you are beyond reproach) and go get your real game on.

9/10


Game: Tales of Monkey Island—Chapter One, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal
Genre: Adventure
Platform: PC
Developer: Telltale Games

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Comments (9)

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  1. Buggy says:

    OMG Monkey Island! I didn’t get to finish the last one… I got stuck on the island with the volcano and the Indians… something to do with getting Guybrush to do something with the tofu… Meh. Go Murray! :)

  2. Ryback says:

    fps_bob best not be droppin nutz. too much e-cred at stake

  3. fps_bob says:

    A’ight man :-) Add us as a friend on Steam, we can battle it out for teh braggin rights.

  4. shinigami says:

    Its ONNNN, ShiniNZ, go go go.

  5. fps_bob says:

    Steam couldnt find any shiniNz. THis post links to my steam page. might be teh easiest way.

  6. BrushGuy says:

    How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

  7. Mriceguy says:

    You fight like a cow!

  8. fps_bob says:

    Cows are excellent fighters. Anyone who had seen Kung Pow! would know that.

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