To recap, Episode 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal saw Telltale re-introducing gamers to Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Pirate, in his first adventure since Escape from Monkey Island on PC back in 2000. The game started with him trying to rescue his wife, Elaine, from the clutches of the villainous pirate known as LeChuck who has more than a passing crush on Guybrush's good lady. Sadly the bumbling protagonist ended up releasing a voodoo-curse, named the Pox, upon the Caribbean and transformed LeChuck into an extremely charming human in the process, whilst infecting his own hand with the Pox all in one fell swoop. Episode 2 picks up where the first one ended, with Threepwood now captain of the Narwhal ship...
The beauty of the Monkey Island series is that the humour never sinks to puerile levels, relying mainly on clever witticisms, great comic timing and puns that at times take a second or two to sink in, but when they do laughs a-plenty are guaranteed. Telltale has managed to strike the perfect balance that was put in place many years ago, mixing in references to the older entries from the PC, yet ensuring the audience on WiiWare (that could well be trying a Monkey Island game for the very first time) is not completely alienated or left baffled by the random on-screen shenanigans. The ease of control is another welcomed addition both for newcomers and those who had qualms with the third and fourth games' set-up on PC. Players simply point at an item and press the A button to have Guybrush mosey on over to check it out, or take full manual control of the lead character by using the Wii Remote's directional pad or the Nunchuk's analogue stick whilst scouring each and every section of the enclosed area for clues on how to progress.
After the first Episode's setting of Flotsam Island, where Guybrush was stranded ashore thanks to strange winds, Episode 2: The Siege of Spinner Cay commences with Guybrush upon his newly earned ship, being accosted by a bounty hunter! In the midst of battle he loses his cursed hand, replaces it with a hook and bids his assailant adieu after tricking her over the edge, meaning all seems well, for now. However, Guyrbrush still has plenty of work to do before normality can be resumed, and thus eventually heads off to the land of the Mer-People in the hope of finding La Esponja Grande to clear the Pox that is plaguing the land, rescue his wife from (the now quite dashing) Le Chuck and maybe even find his hand along the way.
As with the first entry, conversation threads are approached in a slightly different manner to the norm, with set lines on the screen not always corresponding to exactly what is spoken from the lead. However, more care has been given this time to how closely related the two are and, as a result, conversations seem to flow much more naturally, almost as if the on-screen prompts are Guybrush's thoughts, whilst the final outcome is something a little more fitting and careful, depending on the situation at hand. Thought has definitely gone into the inventory as well, since one major bug-bear of certain other adventure style efforts is how items are stored, with everything being hidden in an out-of-sight menu that takes players away from the main action, thus breaking the link between player and the world of the story they had become absorbed in. Here, though, everything is accessed from a pull-out menu on the right side of the screen, where any collected items appear and can easily be inspected for further detail or hidden objects lodged within, or combined to make something useful out of what otherwise would have been two pointless pieces of clutter. The bond between player and game world is, therefore, kept intact, helping to maintain a strong sense of atmosphere throughout.
Additionally, the fact that the actual puzzles on offer are not overtly convoluted or unintuitive is a major positive point. Everything errs on the logical side to avoid gamers reaching that level of frustration caused by wandering around and around for hours aimlessly or having to go through every permutation of item / object to find the answer, getting ready to throw the controller out of the window to cease the agonising torture. Instead, after some head scratching and the odd subtle hint dropped into a conversation (these can be turned down in frequency in the options screen), suddenly something will click into place and the feeling of gratification upon figuring out the solution makes everything worthwhile. If Telltale can keep the standard as high as this throughout the remaining three episodes, each and every one is undoubtedly going to be a must-have title.
Logical puzzles throughout, a very user-friendly interface and cleverly crafted tight-knit world make the whole experience thoroughly enjoyable.
Brief moments of slowdown mar things slightly, but the quality of visuals on offer is definitely still impressive.
As with Episode 1, the voice work is exemplary and is accompanied by a memorable soundtrack!
At 1,000 Points, again players are given an adventure that lasts two-to-three hours when working through at a fair pace, and there is no reason to return upon completion.
After starting off strongly, Telltale has done it once more with the second episode of Tales of Monkey Island proving to be slightly tougher, wittier, more user-friendly, and as downright enjoyable as the first outing. If you enjoyed Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, then The Siege of Spinner Cay is an essential purchase.
Good stuff Adam - I've yet to download the games though - unfortunately can't access the Wii Shop without upgrading. That aside, the series does sound excellent - will definitely consider downloading them at some point!
Might be worth trying to give them a whirl on PC then, tbh - really fun to play
Anyone found they had issues with this WiiWare edition, just like they did with the first one?
Love Monkey Island and this is pretty good, not the same but Telltale have done a bang up job!