Games: More ‘Monkey Island’ mayhem
Stars and Stripes August 16, 2009
The mighty pirate Guybrush Threepwood isn’t actually mighty and isn’t that great a pirate, but he is funny.
Dry wit, ironic humor and quirky puzzles were staples of LucasArts’ "Monkey Island" series that appeared between 1990 and 2000. It all returns with "Tales of Monkey Island," a five-episode collection of games developed by Telltale Games for LucasArts.
Throughout the summer and into the fall, Telltale Games will release episodes of the pirate-themed adventures on the PC and Nintendo’s Wii for $10 a pop.
The games follow the escapades of Threepwood, his wife Elaine and the zombie pirate LaChuck. You play as Threepwood, wandering around talking to goofy characters and collecting strange objects to help you complete quests and solve puzzles.
For example, in the first adventure, "Launch of the Screaming Narwhal," you’ll need to find a membership card for a pirate bar, where you’ll start a fight in order to give the pirate newspaper reporter something to write about. You need to help the reporter so he’ll give you the name of "Deep Gut," a mysterious source who might be able to help you escape Flotsam Island.
If you enjoyed the earlier games, you’ll find the same sort of fun in the new adventures. However, you’ll also find that the graphics haven’t progressed much since 2000’s "Escape from Monkey Island." The characters are rather blocky, and animations can stutter a bit. Camera angles can shift at inopportune times, making it difficult to interact with certain objects. Text can be too small to read on an average TV. It can also take a while for some scenes to load.
In addition, some of the puzzles can get a bit frustrating since some of the items you need to collect are rather small or hard to find.
This all combines to bog things down at times. However, I have to admit that isn’t much different from the "Monkey Island" games that I loved a decade ago. I got a reminder of those earlier games when LucasArts re-released "The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition" through Xbox Live. In that edition, the graphics were updated for the 21st century, but the basic game play — and slow pacing — remained.
Despite these gripes, the humor and puzzles make Monkey Island well worth the voyage.
Platforms: Wii, PCOn the Web: www.telltalegames.com/monkeyisland