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Preview: Tales of Monkey Island

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The LucasArts brand of adventure games were always my favorites growing up. Among the very best the company had to offer in the heyday of the genre was Monkey Island. The series created a world where pirates existed simply for the sake of being pirates and Guybrush Threepwood's innocent charm and bumbling bravado made him one of the most memorable characters in all of adventure games.

After the mediocre Escape from Monkey Island, LucasArts appeared to have signed the death warrant for the series. Adventure games had been in decline for some time already by this point and this was to be the very last game developed using the developer's signature interface. I never thought I'd ever get to travel to Meleé Island ever again.

And, yet, here we are. The original Secret of Monkey Island is getting a fresh coat of paint. Even more exciting, the adventures of Guybrush, Elaine Marley and the nefarious Ghost Pirate LeChuck are about to set sail in episodic form, courtesy of the fine folks at Telltale Games. Read on to learn a little bit about what you can expect in the coming series.

Tales of Monkey Island

Tales of Monkey Island is not Monkey Island 5. Whether that story will ever be told is still in question, but this series takes place after that point and begins with Guybrush finishing a long and involved quest to create an enchanted sword to kill The Ghost Pirate LeChuck once and for all. Players may never get the opportunity to play this quest themselves, with Telltale preferring to reference back to these unseen events during the course of the new series.

All Guybrush has to do to finish off LeChuck is combine a bottle of magic root beer with a mystically prepared sword. Of course, being Guybrush, he engages in a lengthy soliloquiy and fumbles the bottle, breaking it. As there is no more root beer, the mighty pirate decides to make his own out of grog and roots. When the incorrectly created weapon is thrust into LeChuck, all hell breaks loose.

The evil once in LeChuck escapes into the whole of the Carribbean, infecting pirates with a voodoo pox. The ship where this encounter takes place is destroyed and Threepwood finds himself washed up on Flotsam Island, where all things lost in the sea are eventually carried by the winds.

Elaine is missing. Guybrush's hand is infected with the voodoo pox and has developed a mind of its own. LeChuck has been transformed back into a perfectly normal, totally not ghost-like mortal. Sounds like a Monkey Island story to me.

Tales of Monkey Island

One of the goals for this series is to create a more suspenseful tale than we've become accustomed to. The motivations of traditionally good and evil characters will be called into question. A tantilizing prospect was suggested that there may come a point at which Guybrush is forced to question the goals of even his wife, Elaine. Mysterious!

This game represents a departure from the now-standard Telltale format in a few important ways. Unlike every other title the company has produced, Tales of Monkey Island is a completely linear story instead of self-contained adventures. Finding that most players of their games began at the first episode and played straight through, the company has determined that episodic games really do not need to cater to an a la carté format.

This choice means that the overall game can be much bigger and more involved. Without a concession to accomodate the minority of players who choose to jump in mid-stream, Tales of Monkey Island will be able to tell one huge, epic tale of piratey adventure.

Tales of Monkey Island

Another deviation comes from the environments. Up until now, Telltale's games were designed around a central hub and much of these earlier series would take place in the same locations with a few new puzzles tossed in. Tales of Monkey Island will be more epic in scope, with Guybrush travelling to entirely new places with each successive entry.

Controls, too, will be getting another adjustment. The methods of control available were still up in the air at the time of my conversation with Telltale and they were unable to give me more information. Mouse and keyboard controls similar to what are seen in the Wallace & Gromit series are confirmed to be one option, though there may be more when the game comes out.

Visually, it looks great. There are some issues with facial animations in characters, due to a new lip syncing technique being employed for the games, which I have been assured will be ironed out before release. Environments, however, are fantastic and very much retain the charm and appeal of earlier Monkey Island titles.

Tales of Monkey Island

I'm very excited about what I have seen and cannot wait to get my hands on the final product. Luckily, we won't have to wait long at all as the first episode, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, has a July 7th release date on PC with a WiiWare release to follow in the near future.

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Conrad Zimmerman
Conrad ZimmermanMoustache   gamer profile

An avid player of tabletop and video games throughout his life, Conrad has a passion for unique design mechanics and is a nut for gaming history. He can be heard on the comedy podcast ( The mer... more + disclosures


 


 



Filed under... #Adventure Games #Animals #LucasArts #PC #WiiWare

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