Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 2 - The Siege of Spinner Cay Review

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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

In the previous chapter, Guybrush Threepwood, "Mighty Pirate," unleashed a vicious Voodoo Pox that is plaguing every pirate in the Caribbean, while he dodges an aristocratic French doctor pursuing him in the interests of science. Now that same doctor has put a bounty on Threepwood's head while Threepwood continues to track his missing spouse to an island of Mer-people under piratical siege. Can Threepwood juggle all these factions while seeking out the mythical sponge that will help him cure the Voodoo Pox?

Kyle Ackerman

I never knew that a manatee, sometimes called a "sea cow," could be so sinister until I played through The Siege of Spinner Cay. I also never knew that merfolk were so androgynous. But it's all part of the new spin on the classic Monkey Island adventure game franchise that Telltale Games is turning into its latest episodic adventure.

In truth, it all works very well, and is easily among Telltale's best work. The ambiguously-gendered merfolk seem a bit more modern Telltale and a bit less classic Monkey Island than, say, the rubber trees – but every retelling needs its own twists and style to be truly compelling. Having completed two episodes of the five-episode Tales of Monkey Island story arc, I think this season of adventure games already seems well worth the season ticket price of $35.

In The Siege of Spinner Cay, Threepwood sails the Screaming Narwhal to Spinner Cay, the seat of power for the indeterminately gendered merfolk currently being threatened by pirates infected with the Voodoo Pox. Only by locating ancient and powerful merfolk artifacts and defeating the besieging pirates can Threepwood hope both to preserve the lives of his wife and his former nemesis, LeChuck, and to end the infection that promises to prevail over the piratical Caribbean.

Even more so than Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, The Siege of Spinner Cay shows how wonderfully spacious Telltale Games has made the Tales of Monkey Island. The series seems to span a vast area without requiring tedious travel time (better even than Telltale's other games). There aren't actually many more locations than most of the company's other episodic adventures, but the wide reach of the Caribbean and island-hopping adventuring make the game feel sprawling. The second episode, like the first, does involve a fair amount of jungle exploration, but that falls more into the puzzle category than painful travel.

The music continues to be brilliant, just as the visuals continue to be cartoonishly appropriate, an acceptably 3D take on the classic Monkey Island. The puzzles in Tales of Monkey Island continue to be slightly more difficult than those of other Telltale games, but most are not unconscionably difficult (although I personally had a little difficulty managing the lines of sight of two pirates in one particular puzzle). It's enough to give adventure game fans a nose-tweak without alienating the casual gamer.

I continue to be disappointed at the lack of insult-driven sword fights, and I like LeChuck better as a demon voodoo pirate than as an ally, but the jokes are strong, the puzzles are clever and the game is gosh-darn fun. Certainly, the ending to The Siege of Spinner Cay was abrupt, but it was a cliffhanger for an episodic adventure that is sure to continue to draw in fans while laying the groundwork for another three outings with Guybrush. Everyone should be able to enjoy the latest Tales of Monkey Island episode, but classic adventure fans should get no end of grins revisiting the classic grammar of the LucasArts SCUMM engine, with a little help from LeChuck.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on August 23, 2009 1:22 PM.

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