Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal


Telltale Games are an unstoppable force at the moment, turning out game after game of the point and click variety. With Strong Bad, Sam and Max and Wallace and Gromit already under their belts, Telltale have moved onto one of the most loved adventure franchises, Monkey Island. Their latest, Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal just maybe their best offering to date. Based on the Monkey Island games of yore it has a lot to live up to. Now before I get too much into this review I have a bit of an admission. Although I have been gaming for many years I have never played any of the Monkey Island games, all I know is they were extremely popular and have a massive cult following. So I will be looking at this latest offering through fresh eyes.

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As I just mentioned, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal (which will now be called LSN for the sake of this review) is a traditional point and click adventure not unlike Telltales Wallace and Gromit games. You play as young smart talking pirate Guybrush Threepwood who is arguably the original pirate of the Caribbean. The game starts with your girlfriend Elaine tied up on the despicable ghost pirate LeChuck’s ship and it is up to you to try and save her. Typically things don’t go quite according to plan and Guybrush ends up washed up on the island of Flotsam and to make things worse he is not in complete control of his left hand.

The island is where most of the game takes place and is inhabited by a cast of lovable and charismatic characters. Grimpdigit the pirate glass blower who has a lovely line of glass unicorns, Nipperkin writes for the Keelhauler Gazette and the dastardly Doctor Singe who likes nothing better than chopping bits off pirates to name but a few. It is up to you the player to help Guybrush solve the mystery of the winds around Flotsam that always blow inland and to escape the island itself.

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The game has a quirky cartoon look to it and all the characters are well animated. Characters such as the Voodoo Lady and Doctor singe are brilliantly realised and a joy to talk to. Flotsam Island is a great place to explore although it appears larger than it really is, which helps to keep you on track on your quest. The voice work is exceptional and the script is genuinely funny in places. The music that is played through your adventure is an upbeat Caribbean and Reggae mix that helps keep you entertained while trekking through parts of the island.

Gameplay is a mixture of exploring, finding items and combining them to get the needed results. Tasks like making a Porcelain Power Pirate for Joaquin D’oro is relatively straight forward but tasks like trying to get a pirate off a ship so you can become captain requires a bit more thought and a certain amount of trial and error. While these tasks are challenging they are not too obtuse and are achievable with a bit of lateral thinking. Rarely did I find myself totally stuck on what to do next. When I did eventually get a bit stuck Guybrush eventually piped up and offered a bit of a hint as to what to do next. This is a great little feature that didn’t get in the way of the game at all. These hints can be turned off all together or can be made to crop up more often through the menu if the need arises or you want the game to be that bit more challenging.

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I only really have one criticism with LSN and that’s the games ending. While I believe it’s fair to end an episodic game on a cliffhanger to set up for the next one, collecting items and quests that don’t appear in the episode you are playing is a bit off. I fully expected to carry on the game a bit after getting off of Flotsam Island due to the fact I had gained items and was told to give them to someone, unfortunately I didn’t get the chance because that will probably be in the next instalment. This is only a minor quibble though as I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of LSN and I am eagerly anticipating the next episode to tie up these loose ends. If you are a long time Monkey Island fan I am sure you will enjoy what Telltale has done and even if like me you’re new to the series there is a lot fun to be had getting to know the characters.

Hi-Score – Challenging puzzles, Funny script, Brilliant characters

Lo-Score – Loose ends

Final Score – 9 out of 10

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  1. August 20th, 2009

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