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Guybrush Threepwood returns in Tales of Monkey Island, the fifth Monkey Island game. Those of you who have played previous games may remember subtle references to an unbreakable five game contract many of the characters mentioned. A decade ago I was eager for a fifth game and I never really gave up hope. Tales certainly delivers; it's the strongest Monkey Island game yet.

The game begins with Guybrush, might pirate, battling LeChuck on the stormy seas. You make some impromptu substitutions on a voodoo curse meant to destroy LeChuck and rather than dying he is turned into a human. This releases his evil voodoo energy as a "Pirate Pox" which infects the Caribbean turning pirates into more evil and sinister versions of themselves. A new villain The Marquis De Singe means to use the pox to some nefarious end and hinders Guybrush throughout your adventure to find La Esponja Grande, a voodoo soaking sponge, to suck up the pox and return things to normal. Along the way you'll meet a variety of veteran Monkey Island characters (which I won't mention here for fear of spoiling the surprises). You're also introduced to a variety of new characters, ranging from full fledged supporting characters such as the previously mentioned De Singe, a bounty hunter called Morgan LaFlay who is out to get the man she idolizes; Guybrush Threepwood.

Dominic Armato reprises his role as Guybrush and steals the show. The script had me laughing out loud at times and nobody ever seemed to talk more than they should. Some incidental characters voices and character models were reused throughout the series, but the variety in each episode was enough that this never broke the flow of the game.

Puzzles were consistently challenging without being so frustrating that I had to scour the internet for hints. When you get stuck for a certain amount of time Guybrush will pipe up with a hint as to what you should be doing. It's subtle enough to push you in the right direction without giving away exactly what you should do. Unfortunately it's a little inconsistent. There are times I'd be standing around with no idea of what to do next and Guybrush would be tight-lipped. Other times I'd have figured out exactly what's to be done and he's piping up with a hint. It would have been nice if Telltale could have incorporated a manual hint button, say "H" that when pressed would force Guybrush to give a hint, rather than having to wait around for the game to realize that you're stuck. That said, I was able to finish each episode in a three to four hour sitting the day they were released feeling a sense of accomplishment after completing each.

The episodic structure worked rather well. Having already been tested and perfected with the Sam & Max series Telltales knows how to space out each episode tweak the game based on comments to deliver a great experience. The month long wait between episodes was painful, and the each one would end with a cliffhanger making me yearn for more. Since my gaming time is rather limited these days I actually preferred this delayed satisfaction approach. I found myself looking forward to the release of each episode, and the break diffused any Adventure Gaming fatigue I might have accumulated from extended gaming sessions.

Tales of Monkey Island make a departure from the standard point and click controls of adventure games. At first I didn't like this approach; moving Guybrush about the world with WASD never stopped feeling somewhat clunky. What this approach allow however is some truly remarkable camera angles and views you can still meaningfully interact with that wouldn't have been possible with a more isometric perspective as in the Sam & Max series. As what seems to be a concession to gamers who insist on playing adventure games using nothing but the mouse, Guybrush Thriftweed can also be moved about the environment by holding both mouse buttons down, which brings up a radial compass around Guybrush that you turn with the mouse to direct his movement. It's not perfect but it's passable.

Designed by LucasArts veteran Dave Grossman, it's no surprise that the game nails the distinctive look and feel of Monkey Island. Unlike the Escape From Monkey Island, this foray into the 3rd dimension retains the artistic lines, shapes and colours that made The Curse of Monkey Island such a favourite. The music, also, is pure Monkey Island, with new pieces fitting in perfectly with the humour and Caribbean theme of the series.

Tales of Monkey Island, without a doubt, is adventure gaming perfection. Everything comes together in such a cohesive, humourous, and epic fashion that this game eclipses the accomplishments of all other games in the genre.

Bottom Line

Worth It?

Absolutely. This is easily the best adventure game in years, if not ever.


If you really don't like adventure games it may not change your mind. However, it's approachable enough that I think anyone could enjoy their time with Tales of Monkey Island.

Arbitrary Numerical Score

Five out of Five Bananas

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