|Tales of Monkey Island: The Siege of Spinner Cay|
|Platforms||Windows, OSX, WiiWare, PSN|
|Genre||Point and hook adventure|
|Buy from Amazon|
Tales of Monkey Island is my first foray into episodic gaming, but considering the season was finished nearly three years ago, I’m not exactly playing the game as it was originally intended. But considering plenty of people see blockbusters for the first time outside the theater, television seasons are consumed in two or three sittings, and classic rock albums are downloaded one song at a time, it should be expected that good media is good media no matter how it’s delivered.
Now that I’m used to the controls and inventory system, my experience with the second episode went a lot smoother. I’m still feeling a bit underwhelmed by the whole thing, however, but have come to the conclusion that the episodic delivery is a good mechanism for not only Monkey Island, but the point and click adventure genre as a whole.
The Siege of Spinner Cay kicks off, unsurprisingly, right where Launch of the Screaming Narwhal ended. TellTale Games squeezed in a little cliffhanger at the end of episode one to remind you not everything is okay, and honestly, it immediately pays off.
Morgan LeFlay, pirate hunter extraordinaire, sneaks onto Guybrush’s brand new ship in an attempt to steal his undead hand. Her character was hinted at in episode one, and it’s great to see another female character who is not Elaine or the Voodoo Lady. She easily matches sword and wit with our hero, after notifying us that Insult Swordfighting is a thing of the past, and is a genuinely funny and well written character.
The episode’s first puzzle involves maneuvering around the ship while in a conversation/swordfight with LeFlay, since movement is limited during the opening, it would make for a nice reintroduction to the game if someone were playing these when they were released. In the end, Guybrush’s hand is almost nonchalantly chopped off and Morgan makes her exit, leaving Guybrush with a hook for a hand.
It’s kind of funny: throughout the series, Guybrush is always set up as a bumbling guy who manages to survive and thrive not as acting like a pirate, but with sharp wit and a knack for petty crimes. But chop the guy’s hand off and give him a classic pirate hook and all of a sudden he seems legitimate in my mind. Image is everything in Monkey Island’s Caribbean, and Guybrush never had the image.
The opposite is true for LeChuck! Once the ultimate demon pirate in the seven seas, he has been reduced to being simply an enormously handsome and friendly human pirate. There’s a rather hilarious sequence where you need to instruct LeChuck on how to solve a puzzle, so through a conversation with him, you’re essentially issuing time-honored point and click adventure commands to him. See the video for non-spoilery fun.
Elaine also makes her presence known, and it’s fun to watch Guybrush actually stand up to her for once. Their relationship seems much more balanced than it was in the earlier games, and her character is better for it. I’m personally still looking forward to the return of Murray the talking skull!
Well, I feel like I’ve been very kind to the episode so far. Morgan LeFlay is an excellent addition to the cast, but only bookends the quest, everything in between is good, but not great. There are even fewer locations in this episode than last, and outside the core characters, the cast is pretty weak. There’s a mean pirate whose only distinguishable trait is that he’s suffering from the pox, three merfolk whose only trait is that their gender is unknown and they may or may not be hitting on Guybrush, and then there’s some random pirates who are nothing more than plot devices.
The puzzles also feel a bit weaker, with nothing very elaborate like the jungle sound puzzle from the first episode. There are also very few item combining puzzles, which may be a good thing considering how annoying it is to actually combine items in Tales of Monkey Island. I guess the lame standout puzzle that keeps coming to mind is that at one point you need to heat something up, and one screen over is a grill that’s just been sitting there unused for the entire episode in the middle of the jungle. Its placement is only based on the fact that you’ll need it for a puzzle nearby, there’s nothing else thematic about it.
Same score I gave the first episode, but for different reasons. The Siege of Spinner Cay has a stronger main cast, but falters somewhat in puzzles and supporting characters. I’m really hoping the quality improves as we go along, I can see so much potential.