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Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 1 - Launch of the Screaming Narwhal (Windows)

80
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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Frankenfed (33)
Written on  :  Jul 10, 2009
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars

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Summary

Tales of mediocre Island: The launch of the disappointed gamer

The Good

I'll just keep this review short,since there is not much of a tale to tell this time... The good aspects of the game include:

-The voice of Dominic Armando as Guybrush is always welcome

-It is named monkey island (yes I'm a fan-boy)

-The whole theme of a cursed Guybrush is very clever and 100% Monkey Island-ish

-Flotsam Island is a good theme for an island

-A few riddles remind the glory days

The Bad

This is the substantial part of this review since I found this first game of Tales ... well not so good...

It's certainly much worse than Escape from Monkey Island. It actually makes the latter seem stellar in comparison. So what's not to like?..

-The year is 2009 and this game feels even worse technically than 2000's Monkey Island 4. They should have at least worked on it 1 or 2 years more to make it much more fresh and to date. The locations,the map, the little details,all lack that wacky distinctive style that gave the previous 4 games their piratey comic flavor. It's too generic 3-D graphics in other words. It may work for small franchises like Sam 'n Max which aim at a few sparse laughs and 1-2 funny riddles, but MI is a revered franchise which should be approached with caution.

-It suffers from the same problems as the episodic Sam 'n Max games, it's short,not well developed, and its full of bad American kitsch jokes. At least Sam 'n Max is supposed to have bad American kitsch jokes, but what's all that blatant blathering got to do here? Also where is the whole of Flotsam Town. There re two corridors and that's all of it. I want to be able to visit houses and see some detail, drink some grog at the local bar, not just walk outside sealed boxes with a fake rushed feel to them.

-Actually it's almost not funny at all in comparison to the other Monkey Island games (except from the pox theme). The general tone is like that of any ordinary adventure without any spark of genius in it.

-All the work for the characters went to making Guybrush handsome (why should they make him handsome anyway?) and most of the other people look like Mr Potato Head... I think they used ready body shapes from Wallace and Grommit.. All these are ugly, mediocre voiced and totally lacking in depth... even more caricatures than the characters from monkey island 4 (which although simpler and of lower definition had more personality).

-The game is full of boring random dialog about stuff that should belong to Lord of the Rings and not Monkey Island (sea races that inhabited the island in the past etc). The same mistake happened with the sequels of Pirates of the Caribbean. More focused fun is needed here!

-The music adds nothing new, it's just a rehash of the old tunes mostly.

-The way Guybrush moves is tiresome and adds nothing.

-Most of the riddles should belong to an Indiana Jones type of game, unveiling the secrets of lost civilizations and not a Monkey Island first chapter.

-Where's the fun? I was just bored throughout the game as it has no real soul, it just feels as a bunch of procedures which you have to finish in order to see episode 2 ...

The Bottom Line

I know I'm being harsh with this game, since it's a first effort after 9 years and all... but hey, it's a Monkey Island game! I had great expectations and I'm not just a nostalgic adventure gamer who would feel at home with whatever served under the name of MI. I cannot also understand how it got so many good reviews... Everybody dissed Monkey 4 as bad (which is not, it's great,just not as good as the others) so why are they praising this???? Well I'm not into psychoanalyzing gamers right now,but I've surely noticed a herd mentality all these years I'm playing games.

In the end I just want some fun and (if its done properly for the enhancement of the first) some innovation.. Here I found nothing of that. Don't stay away, just don't expect anything above average mediocrity at best. The same that happened with Vampyre Story. I just hope the next episodes will be much much better but somehow I doubt it given the money and effort to the development of this one. Time will tell if there will be any loud har har's from me instead of Le-Chuck.

For now I just recommend you buy a Wii and along with it a copy of the piratey adventure Zack and Wiki, I just started it and it feels so well made! The spooky ghost of Gilbert's fun MI lives in there! No really!