Game Review: Tales of Monkey Island – Chapter 2: The Siege of Spinner Cay
Release: August 20, 2009 (US)
Developer: Telltale Games
Available Platforms: PC, WiiWare
MSRP: PC – $34.95 for Chapters 1-5 (cannot buy individually), WiiWare – 1000 Points per Chapter, or 5000 for the set.
ESRB Rating: Not Rated (PC), E 10+ (WiiWare for Alcohol Reference, Cartoon Violence, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes)
‘The Siege of Spinner Cay’ is the second of five episodes in Telltale Games’ episodic game series ‘Tales of Monkey Island’. In this episode, Guybrush Threepwood (the hero with which all of us inner-pirates can identify) has sailed to the Jerkbait Islands in search of both Coronado DeCava and the evil zombie pirate LeChuck, who has kidnapped his wife (I didn’t know that pirates had wives), Elaine. However, before he makes it there, he must face famed Pirate Hunter Morgan LeFlay.
I think that the premise of the ‘Tales of Monkey Island’ series is hilarious, to be honest. The ‘pox’, a disease sprung on the pirates by a voodoo curse set in motion by Threepwood, causes those that contract it to have fits of comedic rage in which they spew angry ‘piratey’ lines that are downright funny. Even the normally diplomatic, even-keeled Elaine gets into the act towards the end of the episode when Threepwood doesn’t exactly like her plan. The task at hand in this episode is to locate the three golden Vacaylian (Mer-people) artifacts that will lead Threepwood to ‘La Esponga Grande’, a creature that ‘soaks up Voodoo magic’ in order to cure the pirates of Voodoo ‘Pox’ curse.
Once you have downloaded and installed the game, simply enter the unlock code that should have been emailed to you from Telltale Games, and you should be up and running. The controls here are so simple that it’s very difficult to get confused. Having the PC version, you can use either the W-A-S-D or Up-Down-Left-Right keys to move Guybrush around the area. The only other keys used, at least when I played, area ESC (to get to the menu), the space bar (to pause the game without going to the menu) and ‘I’ to slide the inventory out. You can also get to the inventory by moving the mouse cursor all the way to the right side until a small arrow shows, which you click to bring the inventory tray out. The majority of the action in the game is brought about by either clicking on an item, showing a cut-scene with Guybrush interacting with said item(s), clicking on an item in your inventory and clicking on another item with aforementioned inventory item, or clicking on a dialog option while in conversation. It’s certainly a game that gamers of most age groups could handle from a controls perspective, but enough about controls.
The best things about this game are what is supposed to be its strengths, and are very well-executed. The comedic dialog is quite witty and mixes ideas from the realms of both pirate adventures and modern day. One of my favorite dialogs in the game is when Guybrush, already having one of the artifacts, has to convince a band of thugs that his artifact is, in fact, the real one and that the person that they are attacking does not have it. The thugs don’t buy his sales pitch, so Threepwood makes the comment, ‘I’m glad I became a pirate instead of a traveling salesman like my school guidance counselor suggested.’ Absolute genius on the writers’ parts. The entire plot of the story is sprinkled with little nuggets of comic goodness that it’s a title that can be played and enjoyed multiple times, even though the story is essentially identical every time. Think of it like watching your favorite comedy over and over again. Also, the controls are so simplistic that it doesn’t alienate gamers. If it weren’t for the suggestive themes and mild cartoon violence, then children under 10 could easily play this because the controls are THAT simple. The other part about the game that I enjoyed was the cartoon animation. It made me feel like an interactive Saturday morning cartoon. I loved it.
‘Siege of Spinner Cay’ does everything right that it’s supposed to with one exception: hints. I had the ‘hints frequency’ (yes, the game has a meter for that) turned up to the max and received the same hint over and over. Obviously, if that particular hint isn’t leading me in the proper direction, then it’s time to try a different wording or method to get that idea across. I only had this particular issue twice in the entire span of the chapter, but once was so bad that I had to actually sleep on it. Maybe I’ve lost some of my deductive reasoning abilities since college five years ago, but I find it hard to believe that it’s just me. At any rate, change the hints up a little, and this title would be a must-play for everyone.
Patrick’s Final Say: Everything that had to be perfectly executed here was done so extremely well. Kudos to Telltale Games for putting together a series of episodes that makes me feel like I’m actually watching a Saturday morning cartoon with its wonderful wit and even the ‘evil’ characters are hilarious. If you love simple adventure titles that won’t break your bank, then $34.95 for the five-part series is a great value.