Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal Makes an Impression
Telltale is bringing a new generation of gamers fresh Tales of Monkey Island. The new episodic adventure games plays like Sam & Max or Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People. That is to say it plays like the original classic point-and-click adventure game, the Secret of Monkey Island. For the maiden voyage of Tales of Monkey Island, Telltale presents the first of five monthly episodes, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal available today for the PC or as WiiWare..
I’m a veteran of the Monkey Island series. Although I’m really looking forward to the re-imagined Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition coming out later this summer, I was very excited about new stories featuring Guybrush Threepwood, and those mysterious monkeys. I can honestly tell you that Telltale has done an excellent job retaining the bumbling, yet witty and sarcastic Guybrush Threepwood and the ensemble of characters that keep this setting fresh almost 20 years after the first game launched.
The Monkey Island series is steeped in pirates, voodoo, mystical monkeys, insult sword fighting, jaunty Caribbean reggae and grog; lots of grog. The secret of Monkey Island’s popularity, as if you couldn’t tell by the title, is the wry sense of humor that runs rampant through the series. Launch of the Screaming Narwhal has a good mix of in jokes and running gags from previous games while subjecting a new generation of players to fresh forms of pop culture punishment. Telltale also makes use of describing a scene to you and letting your imagination run wild rather than showing you.
Launch of the Screaming Narwhal plunges you right into the thick of things as Guybrush. As you struggle on the high seas to save your lovely wife Elaine from the clutches of the dead pirate LeChuck, things go suddenly wrong and you’re forced to improvise. After disaster ala Army of Darkness strikes, your epic adventure begins with a whole new set of challenges. You’ll face the daunting task of halting the spread of a malignant evil, saving Elaine and defeating LeChuck, but first you have to find a way to get off Flotsam Island.
Your first challenge comes in getting the cooperation of a journalist for the island’s shady newspaper. You’ll have to drum up some excitement before he’ll give you his secret source. Gameplay moves forward as you keep a sharp eye out for objects to pick up or interact with. Guybrush will talk you through everything, giving you hints on whether you’re close to solving the puzzle or way off base. He also guides your hand as you solve puzzles by combining objects in your inventory and use them with others you find around you.
The local color marooned on Flotsam with you will patiently deal out advice for a small fee. You’ll have a list of snarky comments and questions to choose from although Guybrush tends to deliver your lines more diplomatically. At other times you’ll have to follow maps through Flotsam’s jungle that seem to make no obvious sense. This is where creative thinking and turning up environmental sounds come in. Fortunately, if you falter you can start over again, and again if necessary. It’s very easy to start back at the beginning and once you’ve discovered any important landmark or destination, it will appear on your map as a fast travel option.
Just a word of warning. The Tales of Monkey Island series will teach you about persistence and kleptomania. You will swipe everything that isn’t nailed down to be neatly deposited in the portable hole in your pocket. You’ll rarely find anything that you won’t need at some point. You should also make sure to back track when you’re stumped. Often you’ll find that things you’ve already done will turn out differently after you’ve changed something else in the game. People you’ve already interrogated will have new information for you too.
Launch of the Screaming Narwhal is definitely a game I can recommend for purchase. It’s entertaining for both kids and adults with creativity, imagination and a sense of humor. I declare it mother tested and kid approved. Experience it for yourself by taking on the Launch of the Screaming Narwhal Playable Demo. You can order the full Tales of Monkey Island series from the Telltale website. This week they’re sweetening the deal by throwing in an episode from one of their other games. Now I have to go pick that deal up before my kids force me to walk the plank.