Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 1 - Launch of the Screaming Narwhal

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Tales of Monkey Island Publisher: LucasArts / Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games

Platforms: PC and Wii
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: 2 GHz Processor, 512 MB RAM, DirectX 9.0c compatible video card with 64 MB VRAM, internet connection, Windows XP or more recent operating system

Nearly two decades ago, the "Mighty Pirate" Guybrush Threepwood faced off against the sinister pirate LeChuck, launching one of the most beloved adventure game franchises of all time. Now, after nearly a decade stuck in the doldrums, Threepwood is back... accompanied by his wife Elaine, LeChuck, the mysterious Voodoo Lady and other familiar figures from Threepwood's past. Unfortunately and unwittingly, Threepwood has infected the entire Caribbean with LeChuck's infernal voodoo, and must cope with the corruption of the Caribbean before he can be reunited with his wife.

Kyle Ackerman

I have fond memories of guiding Guybrush Threepwood through insult fights and trying to puzzle out the cryptic clues from the Voodoo Lady. Now that there are new Sam & Max games, the only adventure game protagonist I still desperately want to see resurrected is Manny Calavera. That's because Telltale Games has done right by Guybrush and Monkey Island fans everywhere.

Complete with tons of references to the original ranging from familiar characters to obscure inventory items, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal is a brilliant (albeit short) return to the franchise. After a brief encounter with the foul LeChuck, Threepwood is stranded on an island that collects pirates like a girl in a tiara collects tutus. Originally settled by a mysteriously maniacal marquis, winds and reefs continue to bring pirates to the shores of Flotsam isle while never allowing those pirates to escape.

With a little point-and-click style help from the player, Threepwood once again proves that he is up to any challenge and is prepared to steal the island's only ship and command the wind itself to save his wife from the clutches of LeChuck. While this first episode only took a few short hours to complete, the adventure was filled with enough puzzles to challenge adventure game fans, clever enough to inspire thought, but straightforward enough (especially given the game's help system) to be accessible even to novices. If the rest of the Tales of Monkey Island episodes live up to the promise of the first, the season ticket price of $35 will be well worth it.

This is clearly a new adventure – it feels more like Monkey Island: The Next Generation, even if the characters are the same, but it pays homage where necessary and finds new humorous venues where it can. Guybrush Threepwood, the lynchpin of the game, is spot on (and still smarmy), with horrific enough jokes to peel the barnacles off any harbor-bound ship. I played the game on the PC, so I can't comment on the Wii controls, but the control system supports both conventional keyboard navigation and an intuitive mouse-based system.

If I have a single complaint concerning Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, it's that there wasn't a single insult-based swordfight. I can only hope that will be rectified in future installments.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on July 10, 2009 7:20 PM.

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