Game review: Tales of Monkey Island- Launch of the Screaming Narwhal and Siege of Spinner Cay

To fully understand this review, I am going to have to go back to when I was a kid. I figure that in every gamer’s life there is a game or two that ranks above all others, and that even the mention of it brings fuzzy feelings, or at the very least nostalgia.

The Monkey Island games do this for me. The moment I started playing the third one (please remember I’m young, so that was what was out), I found myself alternatively falling on the floor laughing every time the main character opened his mouth, glowing with pride after figuring out a puzzle, or contemplating throwing my game system at someone because the challenge I was on was completely impossible.

So, when I found out that there were going to be new Monkey Island games, my head almost exploded. When I found out that I was able to review the first two episodes: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, and Siege of Spinner Cay, two thoughts ran through my head. The first thought was a combination of high pitched squeaks, giddy happiness and pure elation that cannot properly be translated into any language I know.

The second thought: I like narwhals.

Read the full review inside.

There are no actual narwhals in the game, but it is still full of piratey goodness. Both follow the adventures of Guybrush Threepwood, mighty pirate, as he tries to stop evil voodoo pirate LeChuck and accidentally just sets the evil into the world…. and into his hand (Army of Darkness anyone?)

The games each take place at a different location: The first one at an island that no one can get leave, and the second at an archipelago inhabited by mermaids. Yes, mermaids.

If you’ve never played any of the Monkey Island games, you don’t have to worry. The first episode has a pretty comprehensive tutorial which gives you a basic rundown of gameplay, characters, and the occasionally random humour. For those who have played them before, it’s pretty much the same as you remember it.

There is a handy little combine option on the side of your inventory screen, which meant I didn’t have to waste much time figuring out how to do that (or in the case of some first-timers, that you could do that). Actually, most of the controls are very simple, and you get to playing pretty quickly.

Since this is essentially a puzzle game, I should probably go over the puzzles. They were hard. They were very hard. Apparently each game is only about two or three hours, but I spent about eight on each of them, and I admit that a lot of that was just trying to figure out what to do.

Now, they weren’t impossible, and I did figure out most of them without guiltily heading over to a walkthrough page (I love puzzle/adventure games, but I’m not good enough to do them completely on my own) and they didn’t feel like you were just doing the same thing over and over again. One of my favorites actually involves being strapped to a chair that spins around, and only being able to access a bell and some foot pedals; you have to figure out your escape. Another involves a puzzle within a swordfight, where you pretty much just fight around the ship until you figure out what on earth you’re supposed to be doing.

The puzzles were also fairly funny. I know I’ve mentioned that a couple times, but it really does need to say that this game requires a sense of humor. It is a very funny game, and almost everything you do will respond with a witty quip from Guybrush.

The game made me laugh, from it’s strange puzzles to its new characters, to some very interesting takes on some old ones (without spoiling anything, Le Chuck made me laugh so hard, it’s a good thing I wasn’t drinking milk or else it would have come out of my nose) and this made an overall enjoyable game to play.

This is a frustrating game, occasionally confusing, and the maps were not always very easy to navigate through. However, the good things far outweigh the bad, and once again I fell in love with this franchise, and do believe that other people can get into these wonderful games who haven’t yet. So I would buy it.

Of course, there is a terrible downside to these games: Now I have to wait for the other ones to come out.

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