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Fourth Tales of Monkey Island episode hits this Friday


Oct 28
// Anthony Burch
The fourth and second-to-last episode of Telltale's Tales of Monkey Island series, intriguingly entitled "The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood," comes out this Friday.According to the Telltale press releas...

Review: Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 3

Sep 30 // Brad Nicholson
Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 3 -- "Lair of the Leviathan" (WiiWare, PC [reviewed])Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: September 29, 2009MSRP: $34.95 for the full season on PC / 1,000 Wii Points per episode As with most episodic series, this chapter launches from the conclusion of the last chapter, “The Siege of Spinner Cay,” in which, at the end, players watch the Screaming Narwhal being swallowed by a massive whale. In this chapter, “Lair of the Leviathan,” Guybrush meets the explorer De Cava and his crew, who have separately established a Brotherhood of sorts within the bowels of the beast. With La Esponja Grande still on his mind, Threepwood must make a few new friends and get the hell out of the lumbering beast.The last chapter in the Tales of Monkey Island series brought the player a more open-ended, exploration-fueled experience. While the charm and other hallmarks of the classic series were still present, the chapter gave us a few fits, specifically when it came to untangling the web of puzzles layered on top of the confusing navigation elements. This chapter is different. It is a constricted experience, akin to the opening chapter in the series. Think Flotsam Island ... inside of a whale. This linear approach lends itself to the things Monkey Island does right: dialogue and character-centric puzzles. This is almost as much a classic MI title as it is a new one, so veterans of the series will be more inclined to love this Telltale treat. With ancient constructions come ancient qualms. Introduced in this chapter are two creative spins on Insult Sword Fighting. The first will have players collecting a various amount of pirate “AAAR!” faces in order to do battle -- the more original the face, the better. The second has players responding to another character with a set variety of dialogue choices. While genuinely humorous like the insults in its predecessor, there’s a measure of frustration as a multitude of very similar responses are presented. It can become more confusing than it should be and thus the witty-edge is stricken from the dialogue. The narrative focus of this chapter means there is no substantial navigation. In fact, there are only five or six different screens to visit. A bummer on the surface, this doesn’t detract -- it enhances. Now cemented in the plot, the relationship between Guybrush and Morgan LeFlay flourishes within the confines, presenting an awkward parallel to the early connection that the feisty Elaine Marley and Guybrush had. On the subject of relationships, this apparent theme is enhanced by the appearance of Elaine and the once-voodoo-ridden pirate LeChuck on the deck of his boat, as well as the little scene between De Cava and the Voodoo Lady. In transition, Guybrush remains an idiot. The world remains quirky and colorful, and the peripheral characters are still just as over-the-top. Like with the first chapter in the series, this chapter sticks with what makes Monkey Island, well, Monkey Island. Don’t expect any sudden overhauls here, either with controls or gameplay, despite the focus on new characters.This latest chapter is a good follow-up to an otherwise disappointing second chapter. The back-to-basics dialogue choices, Insult Sword Fighting style of puzzles, as well as the confined interactions, make for a much more pleasant experience. New fans of the series should enjoy this one, while older fans may even adore it. The same old MI problems are present, but not a major distraction. Check this out (especially if you like disembodied skeleton-heads). Score: 8.5 -- (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)
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Another chapter in the Telltale Games' Tales of Monkey Island episodic series was released yesterday afternoon. Chapter 3, or the “Lair of the Leviathan” kicks off as a powerful whale swallows the whole of the Scr...

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What Monkey Island 2 would look like with the CryEngine


Sep 21
// Brad Nicholson
Ever considered what LeChuck’s Revenge would look like if it was created using the same engine the visual powerhouse title Cryis uses? At least one guy has. Hannes Appel is doing the silly -- and absolutely awesome -- r...

Preview: Tales of Monkey Island: Lair of the Leviathan

Sep 18 // Ben Perlee
Tales of Monkey Island: Lair of the Leviathan (PC, WiiWare)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesTo be released: September 29, 2009 (PC) Fall 09 (WiiWare) Now Tales of Monkey Island: Lair of the Leviathan, you have two whole episodes preceding you. Apparently, Guybrush Threepwood (I know at least that much!) has transformed Le Chuck him into a nice guy, turned all the other pirates into douchebags, and has released a Pox of Le Chuck upon himself, his lover Elaine, and others. He's lost a hand, and is acting more and more Le Chuck-like everyday. The only cure, according to Voodoo Lady, is a giant sponge, La Esponja Grande, which brings us here. I'm not really a fan of using sponges*wink*wink*, but it's your call, honey, not mine. Anyway, the first part of Episode 3 takes place inside a giant manatee. Normally cute and cuddly, this manatee swallowed Guybrush and a crew of pirates. Certainly not the nicest people, this first portion of the episode centers around wandering the insides of the sea cow and gaining support. Like in other Monkey Islands, Guybrush must do pirate battles, and this time it's just as odd and surreal as an insult fight. While blood isn't drawn, other body parts. Fans should have fun with this. Controlwise, the new standard for the series has carried over, which I know about because editors have reviewed you in the past. I certainly do not want to be redundant when starting this new relationship, now do I? While I'm not your biggest fanboy, Monkey Island, I am at least aware of something. Your Telltale guys seemed really keen to show off a fan-favorite, Murray. A disembodied skeleton head, he's a jerk and so desperately pathetic, Guybrush can't help but be there for him. Expect to see Murray a lot in Lair of the Leviathan. Finally, Monkey Island, you've won me over with two incredibly charming jokes. One involves a great series of puzzles involving the manatee's personal life, and another is something so specifically Californian, I cannot help but mention it. Late on in this episode, you showed me a sign telling me that I'm exactly where I need to be, and this sign looks exactly like a California State park sign. Sure, you would have to have driven through Tahoe or Joshua Tree National Park to get it, but this just serves as a reminder that you know the truth: the West Coast is the best coast. So what is my ultimate impression of you, Monkey Island: Lair of the Leviathan? Well, I found you funny and charming. I don't know if I could just saunter in and start you up from the get go. You episodic ladies need some time to warm-up, and I need to know what I'm getting into. Certainly, gamers who have experienced you in the past will want to pick you up on September 29, with your WiiWare cousin debuting not long after. Newbies like me, well, we're going to have to start something fresh before moving onto you.
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My dear Tales of Monkey Island,Telltale has treated you so good, turning you into a successful episodic franchise. Many would say you do the original justice, which is a wonderful thing to see. Oh, and Telltale has decided to...

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Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 1 is free for a day


Sep 17
// Brad Nicholson
If you’ve wanted to give Tales of Monkey Island a shot, but didn’t have the coin, then consider deeming September 19th a beautiful day. In celebration of 'Talk Like a Pirate Day" this Saturday (this is a real...
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Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 3 hitting September 29


Sep 17
// Brad Nicholson
The next chapter in the Tales of Monkey Island series drops soon -- as in September 29th, soon. Earlier this afternoon, developer Telltale Games dropped that mad release date knowledge in our inbox and gave up its name. Chapt...
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Argentine reporter reports on the abuse of grog by teenagers


Aug 29
// Matthew Razak
Hold on to your copy of Brain Age boys and girls, because we are about to get really stupid up in here. Any self respecting gamer knows what grog is, but for those non-self respecting gamers out there I'll fill you in. Grog i...
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Amazon offering non-bundled Tales of Monkey Island downloads


Aug 24
// Brad Nicholson
Watch out Ranch Rush and Risk II -- there’s a few new games available on the Amazon “Game Downloads” channel. Telltale Games recently announced that all five chapters of the Tales of Monkey Island series are...

Review: Tales of Monkey Island, Chapter 2

Aug 20 // Destructoid Staff
The Siege of Spinner Cay (WiiWare, PC [reviewed])Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: August 20, 2009MSRP: $34.95 for the full season on PC / 1000 Wii points per episode Conrad Zimmerman "The Siege of Spinner Cay" picks up right where Launch of the Screaming Narwhal left off. Having unwittingly released a voodoo pox upon the Carribbean, Guybrush is on his way to the Jerkbait Islands to learn the secrets of La Esponja Grande, a magical sea sponge purported to have the power to cure the rapidly spreading ailment. Meanwhile, he continues to be pursued by The Marquis De Singe who is determined to have the mighty pirate's pox-infected hand. And what exactly is going on between Elaine and LeChuck, anyway? The story this time around is passable, but doesn't offer much in the way of a payoff. This episode seems to be predominately focused on planting seeds for future chapters in the tale. This is fine, but results in a bit of a lull after a much stronger opening to the series. Taken on its own, it is not particularly compelling.It's still funny, at least. Spinner Cay has considerably less fan service than the previous installment, allowing the humor to stand on its own without relying on established jokes. For the most part, it can, though I wonder exactly how much longer Telltale intends to drag out a running gag involving Guybrush's pyrite parrot because I'm starting to get a little tired of it by this point. Gameplay remains unchanged in this chapter, which should come as no surprise. That said, there are some issues which did not manifest themselves as severely in episode one. First is the travel map. Guybrush has quite a bit of ground to cover in this game. The Jerkbait Islands consist of a cluster of three landmasses which can be traveled between by raft. The largest of these islands features a jungle similar in nature to that of previous games in the series. There's no need to follow a convoluted route to reach anything (thank God) but it would have been nice to provide a faster mode of travel between significant screens in the jungle after you've been there the first time, as has typically been done. The lack of one makes wandering through the same screens over and over monotonous and a bit annoying, especially if you're getting frustrated with a puzzle. As is often the case in a Monkey Island game, puzzles largely revolve around using or combining items to accomplish a goal. Once more, nothing about the puzzles is out of the reach of the player. All puzzles have pretty clear solutions and a little tinkering with items in your inventory will usually provide some insight if you're lost. That is, of course, provided you have the items you need. On several occasions, I completely missed something I needed to pick up. In most instances, this is totally due to inobservance on my part but there are a couple that I failed to find due to the environments. I should not have to scan the mouse over every bit of screen in case something can be interacted with and there are items that are small enough and blend in with the environment enough that they struck me as being far too easy to overlook, even when I have a very good idea of what it is I'm looking for. Finally, I had some trouble with the mouse controls for the game, something which I found to work to my satisfaction in Launch of the Screaming Narwhal. The mouse felt unresponsive in some areas of the game and in others Guybrush would walk in the complete opposite direction than the one I was dragging my mouse. Eventually, I abandoned the mouse altogether for movement out of annoyance. These problems would be easier to overlook if the content of the story were strong. Since it is not, it's drawn them into sharp relief and make the game feel somewhat disappointing. I'm hopeful that the series will come back with a vengeance in episode three, but The Siege of Spinner Cay is not what I had expected from Tales of Monkey Island after such an excellent beginning. Score: 6 Brad Nicholson Last month’s chapter was a tight narrative-driven experience. Oozing charm and stroking nostalgia with iconic characters and interesting puzzles, it pushed all the right buttons for fans of the no-longer-so-forgotten franchise. This chapter isn’t so different. It’s obvious that the devs spent some time with the Special Edition re-release of Monkey Island because of numerous throwbacks -- “How appropriate, you fight like a cow! -- to the original. A steady stream of funny lines, several compelling plot reveals and numerous clever puzzles complete the package, but a few bad design choices pollute this otherwise borderline good chapter.It opens with ‘mighty pirate’ Threepwood braving the salt-laden currents outside of Flotsam Island in search of his wife, as well as a cure for the misanthropic voodoo pox. The solution to the spotted problem lies with La Esponja Grande, a mystical sponge with untold powers. Elaine crops up quickly, so the focus narrows to saving the little world from the pox.  Indeed, the search for the fabled thing isn’t easy. Guybrush needs to collect three ‘summoning artifacts’ in order to uncover its secrets. Forgoing the tight and constricted narrative-led puzzles, Telltale Games created five islands to scour, giving this chapter a smidgen of an open-world feel. This comes at a cost. Three of the tiny islands are almost barren, which can lead to some confusion, especially when dealing with illogical puzzles. Telltale failed to relate when the three perimeter islands come into play. When a puzzle stumps, a lot of time is wasted moving the Narwhal between these places with the silly hope that some new thing was triggered on them because an event triggered elsewhere. The notable but pointless objects of interest on the islands -- a skeleton or a rock outcropping -- don’t help, either. Like the last chapter and its pointless objects (the sponge necklace, for one), it’s possible that at least two of these islands won’t have their moment in the spotlight until the next (or next-next) chapter. The flow disruption is annoying, but the chapter does gain steam in the latter half as the action rises after mini-goals are met. Plus, it doesn’t hurt when the thought of the just how unimportant the three islands are finally crosses the mind. Lord knows it took me long enough to realize my logic mistakes.  There’s much more character in this chapter, mainly because some larger-than-life fixtures of the MI series are slotted into main roles in this chapter’s underwhelming story. It’s a story, which is, as Conrad believes, nothing more than a set piece for the next adventure, but at least the characters have pizzazz. This isn’t an amazing follow-up, but it services for those in Tales of Monkey Island withdrawal. As a standalone narrative, it’s a flimsy thing with little to give to the player other than a few good giggles. But, at the same time, this is a competent adventure title with some intelligent puzzles and decently unique places to explore. If you’re a fan, you’ll dig this and walk away with that familiar MI afterglow. If you're not, perhaps a trial is in order. Score: 7.0Total Score: 6.5 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)
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Telltale games kicked off their Tales of Monkey Island episodic series with a bang in "Launch of the Screaming Narwhal." We came away very impressed with the inaugural effort, praising its wit and gameplay and firml...

Interview: Picking the brain of Double Fine's Tim Schafer

Aug 20 // Ben Perlee
DESTRUCTOID: Now, this event is the multiplayer event, which you said was the first part of the game that had been developed and worked on. Can you describe how the multiplayer came about with Brütal Legend?Tim Schafer, President and CEO of Double Fine Productions: I always imagined it as a multiplayer game right from the beginning, which is that it's all about being a kind of leader of a rocker army, and Eddie is this guy who, in the single-player campaign, builds an army. You get to see the creation story for each element of the army, the headbangers, the razor girls, the thunderhogs, and each unit he adds to his army. In multiplayer, you have them all at your disposal. And the idea is that you are building this stage, and, in Brütal Legend, we kinda equate rock shows with wars, and bands with armies. So you are building a band, you are building an army. So you build these headbangers, you recruit them to your army; they come stage diving off the stage. You go out there, you find these fan geysers -- which are naturally occurring fans bubbling out of the ground -- and you win them over to your army by playing an awesome guitar solo in the game, and then you build them a merch booth, because fans need merchandise. And they stay loyal to your army and they fly back to your stage and that's basically the only resource you have to worry about. They fly back to your stage automatically, and they help you put on bigger and bigger shows. You can make either a bigger stage or you can recruit more warriors to your troops, so that's kind of a strategic decision you make when you play the game. So that's the flow of the game. Capture resource points, get fans, build warriors, send them out on the battle field, capture more resource points, eventually get a big enough army that you can just attack your enemy's stage and burn it down.Tonight we are playing just 1v1, but I know that this goes as high as 4v4. Describe that experience.That's a cooperative experience with your friends. You get on team chat, and you hopefully agree amongst yourselves that “Okay, I'll take care of maybe the resource building, you take care of harassing enemy troops.” Or maybe you all do everything at the same time. It's really up to the players to decide how to split up the duties. You can play the game that way, just as an action game, just you and your ax, doing the combos, you can do your rockslide and you can do your rock kick and you can do pyrotechnics and play as an ax-wielding brawler. Or you can play more strategically. You can change the weather by playing the right solo at the right time, which changes the tide of battle. Or flying around over the battlefield, you get this bird's-eye view of your troops or your enemy's troops. You can scout out and see, “Oh, they're building a lot of infantry,” and if you're an advanced player, you'll think, “I've got my metalbeast, which is really strong against infantry, so I'll build some more of them,” and there's these counters in the game. Really, it's for all levels of play, where if you are into the action, you can be in that, or if you want to go deeper, you can go deeper.I've noticed there's only three different character factions. Could we see any more factions down the line with downloadable content?I can't say...but sure, I think right now, the three are so different and they provide such a different  experience that there's a lot of things to explore with it. For instance, there's the Ironheade, Eddie Riggs' army, and it's Ironheade with an extra “e” on the end, 'cause they are extra metal, and they are more of what you'd think of a classic rock, kinda something you'd see on an album cover, just like rocker girls and the headbangers and guys on choppers and stuff. They have a lot of fire attacks, and they're really fast. Then you have the Drowning Doom, which is more of a black metal. They listen to black metal, they look undead, they're really creepy, they have a guy who barfs rats, and their specialty is playing debuffs and buffs. They can play really depressing music with an organ. They are willing to use keyboards, which sets them apart from Ironheade. They depress everyone on the battlefield with their music and that makes them fight better and makes their enemies fight worse. And then the Tainted Coil is the demonic army, and they are run by Doviculus, who is voiced by Tim Curry. They are all about the hierarchy, so they have Battle Nuns and War Fathers, and Over Blessers who are like this structured, organized army. They all have their own minions, and you can talk to a Battle Nun, wherever she is on the battlefield, and she can spawn minions right there. If you are at an enemy base, you can spawn a bunch of minions, so it's a very powerful technique. But they are more complicated, so there's strengths and weaknesses with each faction. I think there's a lot of stuff for people to be exploring for a long time in our multiplayer.So the multiplayer looks like it's going to be a strong component of Brütal Legend. It's getting close to the completion of the game, and it has gone through some hurdles that most games don't go through. What is it like for you knowing that this game is almost done?It's exciting. I mean, you work on a game for a long time, it kind of becomes your life, it feels like your job is not games, but Brütal Legend. I'm so excited for people other than us to actually be able to see the game. We've been looking at it, we've been playing it, and we think it's really fun, in the office, right? But you never know. We're like, “Oh, I can't wait to show it to people,” and showing it tonight, to anybody, is really terrifying. The fact that people are still hanging around, playing it, and having fun is a good sign.So now that we are entering this exit phase of sending Brütal Legend out to the presses, when are we going to learn about the next Double Fine's next product? Can you offer some hints?[laughs] It might be a while before we can talk about that. I mean, it could be a lot of different things. There are a lot of stories in the Brütal Legend universe I'd like to tell. There are also new ideas I'd like to do. You're just going to have to wait for that, but there's a lot of stuff with Brütal Legend still to come that we'll be talking about.Very cool, it sounds like good things are to come. Within the last month, some very cool releases and re-releases have come out. The Monkey Island franchise, which you helped create, has all of a sudden become a really big deal. What's your response to this game being remade and reborn and having a whole new generation play it? It's really interesting. I mean, it's great. I have a lot of warm feelings about Monkey Island; when I hear the music, I get instantly happy, and I remember it being 1990, back when you were three years old. I was sharing an office with Steve Purcell and Peter Chan and Dave Grossman, and Ron Gilbert was down the hall, and we were making this game together. I was much younger, and it was before you could go online and read a bunch of nasty forum comments. [laughs] It was you and a bunch of friends making a game to entertain yourselves. It was really a fun time. When I play the game, especially when I play it in the classic mode, all those kind of feelings come back to me. It's really a fun experience for me to play. It will be interesting to see how people react to it. Things change, and people want different experiences. Part of the thing with games in the past is that they are either better than you remembered, or they are worse. I hope people remember Monkey as even better than they remembered, because maybe they were so young when they played it the first time, they didn't get half the jokes. You always try to write it like a Warner Bros. cartoon, where there is a juvenile version of the joke, and where there's a more sophisticated version for people who want that, so hopefully people who played it as kids will play it as adults and get a deeper level of understanding. That's what I hope. I hope it's not like Catch-22, where you read that in college, and it blows your mind. Then you read it as an adult, and you're like, “I think this was better when I read it in college.” [laughs]So were you involved in any way, shape or form with the re-released Monkey Island?I only heard about it through rumors. I mean, Ron and Dave knew about it, but they are really tight-lipped professional dudes [laughs], so they wouldn't tell me anything, but I could tell something was going on, because a lot of people were rumbling about it.Do you think you'll ever go back to a point-and-click at all?The way I work is, I just have an idea, and do it. So if I ever had an idea for a point-and-click game, I would do it. I play a lot of console games, and they kind of inspire me. I would say playing Super Mario 64 is what made me change from thinking about PC games to thinking about making a console game. That's where Psychonauts came from. It started this long process that eventually became Psychonauts. Playing Ocarina of Time and Mario 64 made me realize there was different ways to explore a world. There's a much more accessible way to run through it, instead of just clicking on it. There's nothing wrong with clicking on it; it's a different experience. We had a lot of fun making The Host Master and Conquest of Humor, which is a silly little Flash game that our web guy Clint made, and you're playing that and you're like, “Well, it's kinda fun to make this kind of game.” Basically, I'm optimistic about the future, because it seems now the industry can support games of all sizes, so we can make a small adventure game. They don't have to be five-year projects. Double Fine itself is maturing to the point where it can hopefully make a big game and a little game at the same time.I actually have some questions from community members on our site, and one of our community members, Naim Master, asked if you had ever thought about making a 2D-style game, or a quick and easier downloadable title for Xbox Live Arcade or PlayStation Network? Could that be something in the future of Double Fine?Definitely. I feel I am open to making whatever idea comes into my head, and I feel very fortunate and lucky to be able to say that, cause everyone would like to be able to say that. Hopefully, through this team we've built up through Double Fine, there's a lot of talented people there, we're able to do more than one thing at one time. And we do little 2D games, like Tasha's Game [a side-scrolling platformer on the Double Fine site]. I don't know if you've played that, but it comes off like a web game based on a comic. Clint had made it all by himself with some art from Tasha, and music from Raz, and Bird, but if you play it, it actually has a really fun mechanic. Basically, we are doing it; that's all I'm saying.You mentioned the creative process, and we have some community members, DaedHead8 and Krow, who really wanted to know: You are known for making very unique, very special, very...not necessarily outlandish, but very different types of games and types of characters and tropes and images, especially with Psychonauts, and with Brütal Legend...What's a trope?A trope? [laughs] Uh, it's like an overarching theme within a work.Nice.Sorry, I'm an English major, it's terrible.Wow, man, you tropes. What a bunch of tropes.[laughs] But I want to ask you, what do you do to get creative? How do you get your creative juices flowing? First, I like to eat a bunch of tropes. That really inspires me.[laughs]I always believe there's like a goose in your head, and the goose either lays golden eggs, or it doesn't. When you live off creative ideas, it's kinda scary, because at the beginning of every day, it's like a blank page. You won't get paid, and you won't pay your mortgage if you don't have an idea. Which is kind of terrifying if you think about it. Everybody is capable of being really creative; it's just a matter of not being afraid to follow up on those ideas. I learned that while working on Monkey Island with Ron [Gilbert]. I think the only reason we wrote funny dialogue is that we thought it was temporary dialogue. We were just joking around. I was like, “Look behind you, a three-headed monkey!” I assumed Ron would tell me the real line and we would replace it. When Ron came up to our office -- it was shared with programmers, and he laughed at the line -- and I was like, “I don't really know what to say there” and he was like, “That's it! We're gonna say that line!” I was like, “You can't be serious. A three-headed monkey? There's no such thing as a three-headed monkey, Ron. Don't you ever watch the Discovery Channel?” [laughs] In fact, maybe it was Dave or Ron, but one of them said, “We should actually make art of a three-headed monkey to come out behind you.” And I was like “No, you guys! That's too ridiculous!” And then we did it, and it was one of my favorite things about the game. That's when I learned that there's this internal sensor you have in your brain that kills your own creative ideas because you are afraid other people will laugh at you. And you are afraid someone will come by and say to you, “That's WRONG!” So you censor yourself. And there's a lot of that stuff in Psychonauts, the censors that go around with ideas, these self-censors who destroy your own ideas. Also there's that big fat critic in Gloria's level who is like the idea of having an internal critic that's too large, that is too critical, that keeps you from doing the things you need to do. It's a psychological thing that people have to deal with. Doing that experience with Monkey Island is what taught me that, “No, actually, you're right. The stupid ideas that you have are often the best you have,” and who cares what anyone else thinks about them? Everyone else is wrong, and those people are really stupid, so who cares what they think? So take those dumb ideas and run with them. There are no consequences for putting that stuff out there. That's what I would encourage people to do, run with their stupid ideas more.It's really a testament that you are running with those ideas, because it was your name that was chanted on cable television for, like, five minutes by one of the most popular comedians in the nation, Jack Black, going “Tim F**kin Schafer!” What was that like for you?That was unreal. I mean [both laugh], 'cause on those shows, you don't have developers at all; they have an actor come out and pretend to be the guy from Grand Theft Auto accept an award. They won't be an actual developer. I think in some ways it came from Jack, because Jack was one of the creative forces behind those awards, and he's a real gamer. You know, he played Mass Effect twice. That's a scary thing working on this game, is I'm working with his voice. I know he's gonna play it, and he's going to find every line of dialogue, and there's, like, 30,000 lines of dialogue. So I have to make sure he's going to like it. Anyway, he's a real gamer, and he knows what he's talking about when he talks games, and I think that was his choice to elevate a gamer to that level. It was kind of a joke, but it was also kind of great, in a way, for all developers. We'll never be as glamorous as the Oscars. I don't think any award show for games will ever be as glamorous. I think the most glamorous we'll get is the Director's Guild Award, because game developers -- until we have a Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in our games -- are craftsmen. So it was really a lucky thing that I got to be on TV.  And, it's a tribute to Jack, but with our generation, a lot more people are game-savvy these days. It used to be voice talent. They would come in, they would work on the game, they didn't know what they were saying. Nowadays, people know what they are talking about, games are more prevalent, and it's a different age.Well, thank you so much, Tim Schafer, this has been a incredible interview, and I really appreciate you being so candid.Was I too candid?No, no! [laughs]Did I say anything I'm going to regret?Well, would you like to say anything las--Would you like to say anything you'll regret? [laughs]Well, sure! Would you like to? [both laugh] What would, like, people, when they sit down to Brütal Legend, come Rocktober, if you could sum up in three, or five, or ten words -- what is the feeling you would like people to have?I want people who love heavy metal to actually feel like someone who loves heavy metal made a game just for them. But I also want people who hate heavy metal to be drawn in by the humor or action of the game, then come out of it liking heavy metal just a little bit more. It's something that's true [to me], and I really do love it. And I hope it really does expose people to a lot of great bands they haven't heard about before.Awesome. Well, thank you very much.Thank you!
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Tim Schafer. Tim f**king Schafer. He's a man that most of us know. One of the writers behind The Secret of Monkey Island, and the man behind Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, and Brütal Legend, Schafer has remai...

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Have a tidbit of Tales of Monkey Island's second episode


Aug 18
// Conrad Zimmerman
The new Monkey Island series from Telltale started out with a bang. Brad Nicholson and I both enjoyed it considerably. On Thursday, the next episode, The Siege of Spinner Cay, will be released.  Can't wait for a little f...
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Tales of Monkey Island chapter 2 screens surface


Aug 17
// Brad Nicholson
Four billion years ago (Internet Standard Time) Telltale Games announced the launch date of the second chapter in the Tales of Monkey Island series. Due on 20th for the PC crowd -- this Thursday you calendar-less people, you ...
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Tim Schafer on creativity: 'Stupid ideas are often the best'


Aug 14
// Ben Perlee
One of the things I did with my interview with Tim Schafer was allow some community members to offer questions to ask the guy. I liked what DaedHead8 and Krow asked: How is Tim able to be so creative, and how does he get thos...
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Tim Schafer on Monkey Island: 'I get instantly happy'


Aug 13
// Ben Perlee
By now you've heard about the multiplayer for Brütal Legend, as well as the yet-unseen 4v4 mode. But, as we all know, Tim Schafer is a man of many hats, and one of the hats he wore was writer for the original The Secret ...

Review: Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition (iPhone)

Aug 11 // Brad Nicholson
Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition (iPhone)Developer: LucasArtsPublisher: LucasArtsReleased: July 22, 2009MSRP: $7.99The point-and-click adventure genre seems like a natural fit for Apple’s mobile platforms. The interface is conducive to the experience. We click and clack in the Mail App and our Twitter or restaurant-finding clients all day, idly pushing through menus and selecting items with the press of a finger. Most adventure titles work in much the same way and Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition isn’t excused.SMI: SE for the App Store has all of the things you remember from the not-so-long-ago release on the bigger platforms. It does have a few key differences -- zoom functionality, object-verb contextualization -- that give you the tools to play the game on a smaller platform. This version has issues, most stemming from the lack of platform-specific design change. While occasionally frustrating, the issues don’t kill the vibe or interfere enough with the core game for this to warrant a poor score. Not long ago, I reviewed this for the PC and Xbox LIVE Arcade. Not much has changed between this mobile version of the game and its counterparts. You can still hear the sharp voice acting, receive hints on the fly, and toggle the visuals between the original version and the new art. The differences are hardware-related. Many of the fine visual details are lost on the smaller screen. For example, I needed to squint to see the sword nestled on the cluttered shelf in the item store or strain to see a mug of Grogg in the SCUMM Bar. It wouldn’t matter if these items were sheer atmosphere, but they’re not. You will need the mug and the sword to solve a riddle or two. The multi-touch zoom option helps to pinpoint this stuff, but you need to know what you’re looking for. If you’re unfamiliar with the original, you won’t know what you need from the environment. The zoom option reveals a mash of pixelation and obscures everything else. The uninitiated will be forced to toggle the zoom constantly to find all the little trinkets in the environment. The fresh player will not. The loss of the fine details could be a severe hindrance. Also, the action cursor doesn’t like to cooperate quickly when zoomed -- it’s a chore to be stuck in the zoom state.Verb commands have been contextualized in this version. As you drag the cursor across the screen with your finger, the game automatically assigns verbs to objects of interest and defaults to movement when nothing is around. It sounds great on paper, but it proves finicky in reality. A man’s stomach won’t register the “Talk to” command, but his upper chest may. Objects play by the same iffy rules. This isn’t much of an issue. The same UI from its counterparts has come across the platform divide. The menu buttons are large enough to pick without issue, although the related problem from the other version rears its head: it’s hard to combine items fast. But I had little problem delivering the Grog, which is something I can’t say about the XBLA version. This version takes some time to get used to. I went at it with an App mindset. I expected that I wouldn’t have to fiddle with a cursor and played the game as if it was much more intuitive than it is. LucasArts isn’t trying to pound a square peg in a round hole. This version works fine. Verb commands and the item list can be accessed with a few touches, and moving the cursor isn’t that much of a drag. It just took a while for my brain to register that I was playing a port of a game intended for use with other platforms. After an hour or so, I got into the rhythm again and somehow, even after playing the game mere days ago, loved it all over again.Secret of Monkey Island is the cornerstone of adventure titles and this port does the game justice. While it would have been nice to have a more specialized version, I can’t argue against what LucasArts created here. This is a solid port and a fabulous way to experience MI on a bus or at work when no one is looking. Give it a spin.Score: 8 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)
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Since the initial “wink, wink” line, we all knew that Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition was bound for the App Store. Launching on July 22nd, we were told that this version of the game would be very similar ...

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Tales of Monkey Island chapter 2 hitting August 20


Aug 07
// Brad Nicholson
The next PC installment of Telltale Games’ Tales of Monkey Island series is coming soon -- as in August 20th, soon. Earlier this morning, the publisher of the series announced the release date and went light on the deta...
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A considerable number of people have been having some issues with the WiiWare release of Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal. Graphical hitches seem to be the biggest complaint, though low audio quality ha...

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Monkey Island statue is made of greatness


Jul 25
// Matthew Razak
This weekend I come to you on my knees begging for forgiveness. Why do I do this? Because I have never played a Monkey Island game. Not even part of one. Not even one mouse click to make a character walk across the screen. I'...
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Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition hits the App Store


Jul 23
// Brad Nicholson
It is now possible to play Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition on the go. This morning, we were surprised to find the Special Edition version of the benchmark adventure title on the App Store. We knew it was coming, of c...
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Dear Telltale: I love you, but ...


Jul 22
// Chad Concelmo
For helping make point-and-click adventure games popular again and for single-handedly proving that episodic gaming could be a successful and creatively fresh way of releasing videogames, I will always love Telltale Games. Th...

Review: Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

Jul 18 // Brad Nicholson
Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition (Steam, Xbox LIVE Arcade [reviewed])Developer: LucasArtsPublisher: LucasArtsReleased: July 15, 2009MSRP: 800 Microsoft Banana Dollars, $9.99 A worn keyboard with a sludge-filled arrow key, swampy but responsive... An optical mouse with a scaly and slick, almost snakelike, mouse pad... An archaic OS with accompanying visual tree, bursting with brilliant blues and dazzling reds... These are the tools I used when I played Secret of Monkey Island the first time. And I loved it. Learned from it. Wished it would never end.Now, here I am, playing Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition with an ergonomic controller, watching the action unfold with an expensive television set roughly the width of my ragged, ancient computer desk. I can recline. I can lie down. And I still love it. I still wish the experience would never end.What strikes me as special about Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition isn’t the HD visual quality or widescreen capability. Nor is it the new voice-overs, interface or hand-drawn art. None of the new bells and whistles impress me as much as the sheer faithfulness of the port, the obvious attention paid to the fine detail. Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is Secret of Monkey Island: Floppy Disk or CD-ROM Edition. It is more dated than it is fresh, and my experience was better in spite of it.  The new additions -- that is, what makes the Special Edition special -- don’t alter the core game for better or worse. They are garnish on an otherwise delectable dish. Secret of Monkey Island is an accessible point-and-click adventure title with genuine wit, a heaping of tacky humor and more than a few intelligent puzzles. In the game, you are Guybrush Threepwood, a simpleton who sets out on a mission to become a mighty pirate: the kind of man with a single eye and a knotty leg. The story starts small, but quickly mutates into an epic quest as Guybrush stumbles into Elaine Marley’s clutches and crosses the evil-undead-voodoo-cursed pirate LeChuck.You may remember all of this from, say, nineteen years ago when you played the game with a cheap optical mouse and a keyboard with a swampy arrow key. So, let’s talk about main four new components: art, interface, music and voice-overs.The new art is tasteful and solidly adheres to the original artists’ vision. Aside from the addition of atmospheric touches -- fluffy clouds, hulking ships, lush jungle foliage -- nothing has been critically altered. It feels like, oddly enough, that you’re playing Secret of Monkey Island, not an enhanced version. It’s a mark of perfection.You can stare and play with the old visuals at any time with a button press. A new inventory system and verb system were created for the Special Edition. Both are drop-down menus that require the use of a cursor. It’s an intuitive system, but not a streamlined one, especially when navigating with a controller. Combining items becomes a pain. The action, usually a timed affair, requires the use of two different drop-down menus. It can get messy.The music has been given a facelift. The orchestration is full-bodied, no longer a MIDI. Voice acting has been added, as well. A superb cast of talent speaks the exact text written into the game. This was a sore spot for me in the early game. The stiff lines are delivered mechanically with what I perceived as little inflection. But, that’s just the first hour or so of the game, where essentially the writers convey all of the information about the island, items, and basic components. Once Guybrush and crew start talking to each other, instead of simply informing each other of things, it sounds just as fluid as the (excellent) stuff in Telltale Games’ “Launch of the Screaming Narwhal.”Secret of Monkey Island suffers from a variety of genre-specific issues. Most findable quest items are strewn about the game’s landscape, carefully nestled in the most illogical corners. Most characters don’t guide you to the next task or share locations of important places -- these things are left up to you to discover. And it may take some time to figure out a puzzle. You need to use the universe’s logic, not your own. The Special Edition does tackle these issues, but not with a fix. It addresses them with a context-sensitive band-aid. By pressing a button, the game will give up to three tiers of hints. The last tier reveals a massive yellow arrow and the complete answer to whatever you’re currently doing.Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition’s upgrades and enhancements don’t change or otherwise spoil the core game (unless you like using hints). For me, this was the most important thing LucasArts could have done. Memories of Secret of Money Island are cemented in my brain, and my original experience with the title is intertwined with my gamer soul. This is an incredibly special game already -- a benchmark for future adventure titles -- made even more special for the current-generation player with new art, UI, sound, and voice acting. Don’t miss this. Score: 9.5 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)
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Let’s rewind to E3 2009. I’m inside LucasArts’ conference room. I’m a few minutes early for the Star Wars: The Old Republic presentation. They have food and drink in both corners of the entrance. I&rsq...

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Added idol may indicate new Day of the Tentacle release(s)


Jul 16
// Brad Nicholson
Get ready to be really excited Day of the Tentacle fans.Take a close look at the Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition snapshot in the header image. The Tentacle idol featured in the center shouldn’t exist. It wasn&r...
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Telltale giving gamers opportunity to put their wit in Tales


Jul 14
// Brad Nicholson
If you’ve been mulling Monkey Island one-liners all morning, well, you’re weird. Also, you possess mind powers. This afternoon Telltale Games announced a fantastic contest for Monkey Island fans. Starting today th...
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Secret of Monkey: Special Edition teased as an iPhone title


Jul 10
// Brad Nicholson
There’s really no sense in beating around the bush: LucasArts is bringing the Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition to Apple’s App Store. Earlier this afternoon, LucasArts tweeted, “For our Monkey fans --...
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Next week on XBLA, Steam: The Secret of Monkey Island SE


Jul 06
// Nick Chester
LucasArts has announced that The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition will be hit both Xbox LIVE Arcade and Steam for PC next week, on July 15. The enhanced remake of the original PC title, Secret of Monkey Island, featur...
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New Tales of Monkey island art and screens emerge


Jul 02
// Brad Nicholson
The people at LucasArts and Telltale probably think I’m a retard. On my way to the Star Wars: The Old Republic demonstration at E3 2009, I stumbled and then stood with my mouth agape in front of two kiosks in the corner...
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New Tales of Monkey Island trailer


Jul 01
// Jim Sterling
We're all very excited for Tales of Monkey Island, the episodic return of one of LucasArts' most cherished and venerable point-and-click adventure games. Here's a brand new trailer, unleashed upon Youtube by TellTale Games, w...

Tales of Monkey Island Q&A with Telltale Designer Mike Stemmle

Jun 25 // KestrelPi
Many adventure fans had thought that Lucasarts had forgotten their old franchise but now that seems far from the case. How did Monkey Island end up being licensed to Telltale? From what I can gather, there’ve been behind-the-scenes talks going on for a long time. The first time I heard anything substantial was late last year, when Dave Grossman [Telltale Design Director and co-writer on the first two Monkey Island games] discreetly pulled me into a darkened conference room and asked me if I’d like to work on Monkey Island. Some of the people now on the Telltale staff are the same folks I used to talk with excitedly in IRC chatrooms about the Monkey Island series, before even the third game came out. What is it like to have such people watching over and being part of the development? It’s like being in a fishbowl, but it’s one of those really cool fishbowls with bubbling deep-sea divers and shipwrecks and treasure chests that open and close every few seconds. Now if only we can make sure not to get Ich all over everything ... I've heard comments that some screenshots released at E3 look a lot more 'finished' than others. Is there some more visual polish to be done or are we seeing the final look of the game? One of the blessings and curses of the Telltale “Insanely Rapid Production Process” (that’s IRRP™) is the fact that we’re constantly tweaking the visuals until the very last moment. For example, the little bits of the season prologue that we leaked at E3, as cool as they were, now look approximately 9500x cooler a mere three weeks later. I mean, they’re freaking gorgeous. Some fans feel like the sentence line ('Use key in door' etc.) is a classic element of the series. Will we see it return in Tales? Since we really only have one uber-verb (“use”), we decided to forgo the sentence line in Tales, which really makes our localization guys happy. Some of the puzzles in, say, Sam and Max and the Strong Bad games, are rather surreal as befits those series. What are you doing to make the puzzles feel familiar in style to long time Monkey Island fans? From both a story and puzzle perspective, we’re all trying to keep in mind that, although the individual plot and puzzle points of Monkey Island can get rather silly from time to time, the high level story lines tend to be rather serious. This keeps us from going way off into goofy-land. What is the secret of Monkey Island... ... ...'s long standing appeal? It’s all about Guybrush. When written well he’s the perfect adventure game everyman, with just enough character to be charming but not so much character that he overwhelms the player’s natural desire to “be” the player character. These characters have been around for nearly twenty years now. Is there a difficulty in introducing them to players who have never played a Monkey Island game before? Hopefully, our intro will tell you all anyone needs to know. There’s a nebbish, cocksure pirate wannabe, his patient, resourceful wife, and an evil undead pirate. They have a history. Finally, the series has been described as a sequel to a Monkey Island 5 that was never made --do you think there's a chance that game would ever be made, or is it best left to the players' imaginations? Oh, I think it’s really best left to the player’s imaginations. From what I gather, the initial design incorporated several controversial retcons (Stan is Guybrush’s Father!?), time travel, and an extended sequence in which Guybrush argued (in Pig Latin) about the fairness of Pirate Tax Codes. --- I'd like to thank Mike for taking time from that IRRP™ to answer my questions. The first episode of Tales of Monkey Island will be released on July 7th on PC and at a to-be-announced date on Wiiware. The whole season can be pre-ordered for a ridiculously reasonable price from the Telltale website.
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[Editor's note: Community member SurplusGamer did a little Q&A on Tales of Monkey Island with Telltale's Mike Stemmle. -- CTZ] In their heyday, graphic adventure games were one of the most popular PC genres around. Sadly,...

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Watch LucasArts play Monkey Island over the Internet today


Jun 19
// Brad Nicholson
LucasArts are putting on a show this afternoon for people who want a sneak peek at Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition. At 3PM Pacific, people from the publisher slash developer will be playing the upcoming downloadable ...
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Producer tells us why LucasArts updated Monkey Island


Jun 17
// Brad Nicholson
We talked a lot about Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition today, but one thing we haven’t touched is LucasArts motivation for creating it now. According to Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition producer Craig De...

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