Thereís a certain charm about point-and-click adventure games that bring me back to my gaming childhood, and point-and-click pirating escapades are even better. Telltale Games hasnít disappointed me in the past with games like Wallace & Gromit, Sam & Max, and Strong Bad, so thereís no reason to think that their newest release, Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal would be anything but smooth sailing.
The Screaming Narwhal starts with resident geek-turned-pirate Guybrush Threepwood trying to save his wife, Elaine, from resident evil-doer, the demon pirate LeChuck. Fans of the series will immediately jump into the familiar game play, which is generally comprised of picking up various objects, combining or changing them, and using them in zany and unusual ways within the environment. While all the pointing and clicking certainly fits well with the Wii-mote, I did find myself wishing for an easier way to cycle through all the clickable items, rather than having to ďwandĒ over each scene and determine what I could click on. Yes, this is a lazy desire. There is a way to cycle through items in your inventory, although that didnít really seem to add any convenience to the overall gameplay, so I didnít use that shortcut much.
I donít want to give away any spoilers, but the storyline is engaging and revolves around Guybrush trying to get off an island with no boat and no outgoing winds. Of course, there are plenty of other stranded townspeople to offer witty banter and entertaining side quests. From ninja-collecting to vowel-selling, it seems like Flotsam Island is full of stuff to see and do.
The only negatives I saw (literally) were frame-rate issues and low-resolution textures that were products of the compression necessary to be a WiiWare title. Also affected was the audio quality; I occasionally noted choppy sound and even parts that had captions but no voiceover. However, the more I played the less awkward the sound and visuals seemed. Maybe the frame-rate issues can be remedied with an eye patch. (Did I mention this game has a lot of puns?)
Hands down, this game is one that I enjoyed, and I know Iíll enjoy the remaining four chapters. I do wish that the game had been released on Xbox Live Arcade as well, as I preferred the controls of Wallace & Gromit to those of Monkey Island. I also think that while the graphical and audio issues were minimal, they wouldnít have existed had it not been for the small file sizes of WiiWare games. While I havenít played the PC version of the game, it appears to be the superior version (and will save you $15 if you plan on buying the entire season.) Regardless of platform, however, Tales of Monkey Island is a quality title that wonít leave you shipwrecked by boredom.
Outstanding | Very Good | Fair | Poor | Awful
Recommended Buy Price: $8.00
Current MSRP: $10.00
Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal was provided for review by Telltale Games. The game was played to completion in 4 hours, including the bonus treasure hunts. Chapter Two of Tales of Monkey Island, The Siege of Spinner Cay, will be available on August 20th for the PC and shortly thereafter as a downloadable WiiWare title.