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

aka: Monkey Island Tales 1 HD
Moby ID: 41497
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Launch of the Screaming Narwhal is the first episode in Tales of Monkey Island, a series of point-and-click adventure games based on the Monkey Island franchise that was started by Lucasfilm Games with The Secret of Monkey Island (1990) and ran until the fourth game Escape from Monkey Island (2000). After nine years, the intellectual property was licensed by adventure developer Telltale, Inc. where many of the original LucasArts adventure developers had since moved.

The game is set after the events of Escape from Monkey Island and starts when protagonist Guybrush Threepwood attempts to rescue his fiancée Elaine Marley from the clutches of zombie pirate LeChuck. During the fight, Guybrush, clumsily as ever, manages to mess up the voodoo recipe that was supposed to defeat LeChuck and loses both Elaine and his ship. The main goal is to find back Elaine and deal with the evil pirate once more, through a number of trials and problems that prevent him from leaving the island. The first chapter takes place on an entirely new location called Flotsam Island and includes an entirely new cast of characters along with some familiar ones. Many of the voice actors for the main roles previously lent their voices to earlier titles in the series.

Unlike Escape from Monkey Island the game is rendered entirely in 3D, and the typical Telltale engine is used. Guybrush can be controlled through the keyboard keys or through mouse movement (selecting the character and dragging the cursor to the desired destination). Only a single mouse cursor is used for all actions and important items are stored in an inventory where they can be examined. Entirely new for a Telltale game is the incorporation of the classic adventure mechanic where items can be combined in the inventory to form new objects or to interact with each other.

The game makes many non-essential references to the earlier games and contains the classic Monkey Island ingredients such as humorous conversations and events, based on slapstick, play on words, witty retorts and contemporary cultural references, conversation trees, an unconventional approach to puzzle solutions, and the anti-heroic main character. The game's puzzles include triggers based on conversations, item combination puzzles and more extensive tasks that require maps and the use of the environment. It is not possible to die in the game and player can set the ratio of hints Guybrush casually mentions while progressing through the game. Full solutions are however never provided.

Unlike other Telltale episodic adventure series, individual episodes initially could not be purchased separately. Because of the larger story arc or possibly financial reasons, users were required to buy the five episodes as a whole as they are released on a monthly basis. Later, the decision was reversed and episodes were also offered individually.

Spellings

  • Tales of Monkey Island. Глава 1. Отплытие «Ревущего нарвала» - Russian spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

195 People (126 developers, 69 thanks) · View all

Directed by
Director of Art
Art Direction
Executive Producers
Director of Production Technologies
Lead Programmer
Lead Animator
Lead Choreographer
Lead Environment Artist
Season Design by
Episode Design by
Director of Design
Visiting Professor of Monkeyology
Written by
Additional Writing
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Additional Programming
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 80% (based on 54 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 44 ratings with 3 reviews)

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!

Windows · by Frankenfed (32) · 2009

Good but didn't shiver me timbers

The Good
After a very long wait Monkey Island is finally back on our shores. Now I have to admit Ive been quite a big fan of Telltale's episodic adventures and this is one of their best yet. Some of the puzzles are classic monkey island and the sound puzzle is particularly good. Nice to finally see Monkey Island back.

The Bad
One of my biggest problems is the fact Telltale have used the same engine as they did for the Sam and Max games. Monkey Island should be 2D and hand drawn. I wish this series looked more like the Original remake rather than the way it does. Also I kinda want a proper HUD. Monkey Island needs a shot in the arm... by which i mean it needs to take about 10 steps back and do what it did all those years ago... but with better graphics. Its a good game and a good start to a new series but it could have been one of the best things to hit these shores in years.

The Bottom Line
Standard adventure game episodic affair from Telltale similar in style and execution to their other recent series such as Sam and Max and Bones.

Windows · by Matthew Bailey (1257) · 2009

It was allright

The Good
The graphics looks OK for being 3D, much less ugly than Escape from Monkey Island (the fourth game) was (I mean duh, that was not hard to accomplish a decade later). The character desings, while still quirky, look much more appealing than they were in MI4. Personally I would have preferred if the graphics returned to 2D hand drawn animation, but it does the job.

The music is nothing to write home about, it's there in the backround to give that Caribbean flavor.

The gameplay controls are mixed: it's both an evolution of the gamepad/keyboard centric inputs from MI4, while fortunately also re-introducing the classic mouse driven pointing-and-clicking that is so synonymous with the genre and MI series. You move Guybrush with the keyboard, and handle items with the mouse. It's a little clunkier to play the game like that, both compared to the streamlined MI4 and the classic point-and-click mechanics, but it's workable, and maybe necessary for the 3D environment.

The puzzles are pretty easy. Yeah, this is a game for the Internet age, where if getting stuck, most people will just look up the solution, which is available in seconds anyway. Hardcore adventure gamers won't find much challenge here. I am not a hardcore adventure gamer, so it's okay. This is Tales of thing is more like a lite Monkey Island experience than a proper big entry in the series.

LeChuck was everything from ghost to a giant stone statue, but human? That's new!

The Bad
The dialogue is not too good. Every line tries to be rapid-fire instant funny, all the time. The classic MI games had better writing than that, and the humor had more depth. But yeah, what can you do with a franchise as famous and hyped by that point? Trying to dish out instant gratification like it's a fast food chain.

The Bottom Line
Monkey Island 5 was rumored on the fansites back troughout the 2000s for a long time. This is no MI5, but the short episodic nature of Tales of Monkey Island was a fresh and allright way to bring the franchise back to the limelight. It wasn't necessary (I consider the story closure in MI4, as silly as it was, to be definitive), but we all crawed it! I haven't played the other episodes, or the recent one yet.

Windows · by 1xWertzui (1135) · 2024

Discussion

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Free today! Cantillon (77965) Sep 20, 2009

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Sciere.

PlayStation 3 added by Alaka. iPad added by Pseudo_Intellectual. Macintosh added by Zeppin.

Additional contributors: Jeanne, formercontrib, Picard, Zhuzha.

Game added July 9, 2009. Last modified April 26, 2023.