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Review

Tales of Monkey Island: Rise of the Pirate God (WiiWare) Review

by December 29, 2009

When I saw the first images of Tales of Monkey Island, I was conflicted. Yes, more Monkey Island could be good but it could also go terribly wrong. Thankfully, with the final episode of the new Tale behind me I can confidently say this new Monkey Island series has been a ton of fun to play and the latest episode is no exception. This review contains spoilers of the fourth episode so if you haven’t played that yet, don’t continue!

The last episode of the Tale saw Guybrush Threepwood killed by the freshly re-Zombied LeChuck. But since there is an entire episode to go, naturally Mr Threepwood isn’t quite dead yet. The episode begins with the Mighty Pirate fresh in the dirt, but not for long as Guybrush digs himself out of the grave and into the next adventure. This time the adventure takes place in between the all-new-for-the-episode Underworld and a ton of places you’ve visited previously through the previous episodes. The underworld area has some great art direction with a dark and eery feeling. It reminds me quite a bit of Grim Fandango which is a great thing.

The character interactions in this episode are possibly the best yet, with a bunch of characters returning from the previous Tales episodes. While I was hankering to see some Stan or Murray action return again after their earlier appearance in the season, at the end of the episode it kind of didn’t matter. You see, this episode, while having you explore an entire new area that is the Underworld, it’s filled with LeChuck’s victims from his returned power. You think this might mean Telltale were cheaping out with just getting everyone back, but it’s great to see Guybrush’s new ’friends’ make a comeback. So, yes, it would have been nice to see classic characters return but it’s safe to say, I think, that characters like Wilslow, Do’ro the Explorer and the Judge are now welcome in the Monkey Island Lore. And Morgan Le Flay – I’ve left her till last because I really like the character and she’s an excellent character to have LeChuck bounce off. She, too, ends up dead and in the Underworld with LeChuck having offed her, and she’s brilliant in her Insult Sword Fight with LeChuck and another dead pirate. That’s correct, the long awaited return of Insult Sword Fighting is back. This time, however, despite you having to take on two people at once, it is rather simple and can simple be tried over and over with trial and error play-through. The only punishment for getting it wrong is Morgan having a whinge.

The puzzles contained in the latest episode also are a mixed bag; some of them are really easy and some of them are completely stupid and infuriating. The dynamics of crossing in between the living world and Underworld are executed well though, and you’ll have to think ’outside the box’ to solve puzzles during that portion of the game. Sadly, it’s the final battle that is a let down – and you know who it is against so I don’t need to tell you. It’s not that it’s a silly battle, or that it’s not a fitting last bout, but the fact that some of the interactions you need to do in the right order are a bit of a stretch for people to figure out. If you miss one item in the order you’ll have to start again, but there is nothing to tell you this so, like me, you could end up doing it over and over again until you figure it out. The final battle though is only the finale to the game; the real battle is getting there, which is the fun part.

The game’s humour this time around is great again, even taking time out to make fun of itself in the process. Well, not so much fun at the game but the entire ’point and click’ genre, I mean, just how does Guybrush keep a dog in his pants? Also, Spirit Gum, when you get that point you’ll be laughing.

This is posibbly the best episode in this ’season’ with a great storyline, good humour and puzzles. The final boss fight is a bit naff in places but it’s finally a conclusion. Every episode so far has been a cliffhanger so it’s good to get some closure. And about that ending? I won’t spoil it for you but it is a rather fitting one, and be sure to stick around till after the staff credits for a little scene. The ’real’ ending though is before the credits and, while succinct, it’s good enough.

The only real downside of this series so far has been the wait for the titles on WiiWare. This is due to Nintendo’s certification process and own way of doing things in regards to release dates, but come on Nintendo. Telltale, please work on the WiiWare version’s framerate as well, but congrats on squeezing this all under 40 megs.

So, was this little exercise in bringing back the Monkey Island series a good one? The art style that was initially ill-recieved doesn’t really matter now, as since playing the entire series, the gameplay, humour and story mean that a new generation can enjoy Guybrush’s adventures. For the next season, let’s see some more characters classic return, but without forgetting all the new friends and foes from these new games. More classic locations, perhaps even a return of Ozzie Mandril? Perhaps not…

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Daniel Vuckovic

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