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Tales Of Monkey Island: Launch Of The Screaming Narwhal Review

An old school classic returns in an all-new WiiWare adventure

In the world of point-and-click adventure games, there's one series that gets most old-school gamers misty-eyed with nostalgia. The Monkey Island games were the pinnacle of point-and-click, mixing a great collection of head-scratching puzzles with some of the best, most hilarious dialogue in gaming history, and as a result many gamers list the first game in the series, The Secret Of Monkey Island, among their favourite games of all time.

The problem with a legacy this big is that any attempts to make another game in the swashbuckling series would be a bit of a double-edged cutlass. On the one hand you've got a legion of old-school Monkey Island fans who are desperate to see the return of Guybrush Threepwood, Legendary Pirate, his wife Elaine and the evil pirate LeChuck. On the other hand though, with the game's creators Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert doing their own things now, there's concern from those same fans that a new Monkey Island game done incorrectly will stain the series' good name and ruin a franchise dear to their hearts. Thankfully, as die-hard Monkey Island fans here at ONM Towers, we can confirm that this first WiiWare chapter in the new episodic Tales Of Monkey Island series fully manages to retain the humour and charm of the original games while producing a point-and-click game that feels remarkably contemporary.

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Monkey Business

Don't worry if you're not familiar with the Monkey Island games. You don't need to have played them to know what's going on here. The story throws you deep into the action right away, with Guybrush arriving at the scene on his boat just as the evil ghost pirate LeChuck (who's kidnapped your missus Elaine) is about to perform some evil voodoo on a monkey to uncover its mystical secrets. After a few simple puzzles showing how the game's logic works, Guybrush turns LeChuck into a human and in the process curses his own hand. Guybrush then ends up shipwrecked on the mysterious Flotsam Island, a land filled with colourful characters who can't leave the island because the winds all strangely blow in its direction. It's up to Guybrush to get off the island, find LeChuck and rescue his beloved, long-suffering wife Elaine.

The most important element of the Monkey Island series is its sense of humour, and thankfully in that respect Tales Of Monkey Island doesn't disappoint in the slightest. Every character in the game is brimming with personality, from the eager newspaper journalist who's desperate to get some stories but can't leave the island to get them, to the chunky and depressed Puerto Rican pirate who's been sold a fake treasure map to find the last rare action figure he needs to complete his collection, to the overly-friendly captain of the titular Screaming Narwhal ship who's more than happy to let Guybrush try and invade the boat because he enjoys a challenge.

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Perhaps most entertaining of all is Guybrush himself, who plays the lovable idiot with delusions of grandeur. He really does think he's Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Pirate, but in reality he's a clumsy, slightly hapless chap who means well, but often messes up. His dialogue's hilarious though, and you're guaranteed to be chuckling throughout the duration of the game.

Look! A Three-Headed Monkey!

In typical point-and-click tradition, when you talk to someone you're usually given a choice of three or four sentences to reply with. If you choose something like "you're really ugly, you know that?" Guybrush will instead say something completely different which fits the same mood. It's a neat touch because it keeps the dialogue fresh and unpredictable (instead of you already knowing what he's going to say) and also fits in with Guybrush's rebellious personality. It feels like he knows he's a character in a videogame and is not entirely happy with the way his line has been worded so has decided to reword the line to something he feels is more suitable. What this all builds up to is a fantastic first episode in this five-part series. If the other chapters are half as funny and entertaining as Launch Of The Screaming Narwhal, we'd strongly recommend saving the Points to buy them all. For now though, this is a fantastic start and a must for point-and-click newcomers and longtime fans of Monkey Island alike.

Comments

16 comments so far...
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  1. Zeni Geva Friday 31st Jul 2009 at 08:53

    So it doesn't have the badly compressed voices/sound issues, frame-rate issues and stuttering I've been hearing about?

  2. FriarLawrenceIII Friday 31st Jul 2009 at 09:04

    So it doesn't have the badly compressed voices/sound issues, frame-rate issues and stuttering I've been hearing about?

    Maybe they played the PC version? Or the fact it wasn't fro the shop channel? I'll Give my views later in TMI thread.

  3. Seabean Friday 31st Jul 2009 at 09:07

    This may sound like an odd question but did you review the PC version at all or was it genuinely on the wii? It's just that everyone (well, a lot of people) on the Telltale forums are saying that the wii version is 'almost Unplayable', something to do with the 40mb download size limit. Did you come across these problems at all in your review? Apparently the voice and sound quality was very poor and a lot of hitching.

    It's a good game though (have it on PC) but even when it runs perfectly I still don't think it's 90%, especially when NMH was less than that. Yes it perfectly takes Monkey Island into the modern day and the MI humour is still there, the voice actors are great and the puzzles are clever but I think that even for a downloadable episode it's still too short (took me a long afternoon) and there isn't really any reason to play it again so after you've completed it you then have to wait another month until you can play the next episode. Oh well, at least I had the SMI re-release to play.

  4. darkandy666 Friday 31st Jul 2009 at 11:01

    glad to see this here i would download it but i hav no moeny i my has it on xbox so i play it round his so

  5. Mango Vader Friday 31st Jul 2009 at 11:02

    I didn't find the script as funny as earlier games... maybe I'm just more cynical now. And the character graphics were godawful; I hate TellTale's artstyle when it comes to people, although the environment was reeeeeaaaal nice. Gameplay was good, although, I do think it was a bit too short to give such a high review.

  6. Seabean Friday 31st Jul 2009 at 11:04

    glad to see this here i would download it but i hav no moeny i my has it on xbox so i play it round his so

    I think you're trying to say a friend has it on his xbox so you'll play it round at his or something along those lines but you must be thinking of the Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition that was released on the xbox, this is something different.

  7. cjayp33 Friday 31st Jul 2009 at 12:14

    So it doesn't have the badly compressed voices/sound issues, frame-rate issues and stuttering I've been hearing about?

    I need to know too, can you please comment staff or add it to the review. Perhaps they left it out because they want it to look positive and get people to buy it.

    I will not get this until the team respond.

  8. Giga Friday 31st Jul 2009 at 13:44

    So it doesn't have the badly compressed voices/sound issues, frame-rate issues and stuttering I've been hearing about?

    I need to know too, can you please comment staff or add it to the review. Perhaps they left it out because they want it to look positive and get people to buy it.

    I will not get this until the team respond.

    I doubt what you said is ture but it wouldn't surprise me if there was any sort of fowl play.

  9. evilguy12 Friday 31st Jul 2009 at 14:40

    Actually it does have all of those things. Many reviews have also complained about this. So get the PC version which will always be superior to the Wii Ware one just like Sam and Max.

  10. Gavin Rozee Friday 31st Jul 2009 at 16:56

    I got The Secret of Monkey Island SE on iPod Touch instead. Cheaper, and a better game.

  11. FriarLawrenceIII Friday 31st Jul 2009 at 22:26

    So it doesn't have the badly compressed voices/sound issues, frame-rate issues and stuttering I've been hearing about?

    I need to know too, can you please comment staff or add it to the review. Perhaps they left it out because they want it to look positive and get people to buy it.

    I will not get this until the team respond.

    I doubt what you said is ture but it wouldn't surprise me if there was any sort of fowl play.

    I personally didn't have much of a problem with sound Just the fact that the wii has to constantly uncompress the file due to the 40MB size limit, which lead to longer loading times, delayed custscenes and a bit of stuttering in the introduction. Oh and, my wii crashed once.

    I would say, if you don't think you can overlook these flaws, get the PC version, but i'm perfectly happy with the wii version (completed at about 7 hours)

    Either way, you need to own this game.

    @Gavin Rozee: Whilst i have yet to play SOMI:SE, i hate the art direction and don't see how it can be much better than the original. So far, for me TMI >SMI. I will be picking up SMI:SE in october with my new laptop though!

  12. LEGEND MARIOID Sunday 2nd Aug 2009 at 11:10

    So it doesn't have the badly compressed voices/sound issues, frame-rate issues and stuttering I've been hearing about?

    I suspect the PC version was reviewed as on a couple of other sites :wink:

  13. punkmario Monday 3rd Aug 2009 at 00:03

    wow, i got the pc version, and well, from what ive heard, so did you guys too, and its not 90% way too easy, some of the jokes hit and miss, i can see that 2 character models reskind 5 or 6 times, seriously! thats so freaking lazy, thats what bugs me most, not all the characters are well written, the games short flotsam island is small, but has some nice puzzles, and all the buggy compresion issues the wii has, i mean telltale arent great at porting to console, but porting and compressing, from telltale ouch!, monkey island special edition on xbox is compressed and not a problem, atleast none ive spotted, a few animations screwed up that happened, bout twice, nothing to write home about tho,


    i think were getting the good ol fashiond onm selling out business remember red steel getting 91 boy what game did you play, because the one i played went straight back to game 2 weeks after launch, unfinished,tales is good, on pc, it passes, not brilliant, but left us expecting much more and better, and if there is much more and better narwhal will be forgivable, on pc till then id give it 75-80

  14. Googoo12444 Monday 3rd Aug 2009 at 19:10

    Ive bought the secret of monky island on iPod, Id still get this when I have the wii points

  15. Googoo12444 Monday 3rd Aug 2009 at 19:11

    Ive bought the secret of monky island on iPod, Id still get this when I have the wii points

  16. Wii_With_Mii Saturday 15th Aug 2009 at 20:45

    If it's anything like the 360 remake ill loath it.

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