So far Telltale Games has released four episodes on the European WiiWare download service, Episode 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, Episode 2: The Siege of Spinner Cay, Episode 4: Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood and the game Cubed3 is taking a closer look at now in this review, Episode 3: Lair of the Leviathan. Can the development team keep up the high standards found in the first two outings?
Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Pirate, has been on the adventure of a lifetime, rescuing his wife, Elaine, from the evil pirate Le Chuck, accidentally turning his nemesis Le Chuck from his ghastly spirit form into a suave, charming chap that is trying to woo Threepwood's other half, whilst also unleashing a lethal voodoo curse (the Pox) and watching as it spread across the entire Caribbean. In this third episode it is up to our trusty hero to help heal the injured manatee that swallowed him, bounty hunter Morgan LeFlay and his entire ship, the Screaming Narwhal. However, rather than proving to be a set-back, this all turns out to be part of the grand scheme of things, with Threepwood and LeFlay stumbling across the legendary explorer Coronada De Cava and his long-lost crew of castaways who can help with the acquisition of La Esponja Grande - a large sponge that can remove the Pox from people.
Tales of Monkey Island Episode 3 picks up where the last two did, encouraging the gamer to collect various items, combine them where necessary and then use them in various situations to solve puzzles and progress further in the adventure. However, Telltale Games has tried to steer clear of bombarding gamers with a whole host of unnecessary items that would otherwise merely clutter Threepwood's inventory store. Instead, more emphasis this time is put on timed puzzles and the unravelling of numerous conundrums that require more brain power than methodically going through every permutation of item-person-object in order to fluff your way through trickier situations. There is even the return of a certain demonic skull that will undoubtedly be a pleasing inclusion for fans of the earlier LucasArts Monkey Island titles. This third entry into the five-episode arc really does set up the last two parts perfectly, keeping gamers eager for more after the three or four hours it takes to complete this mini-adventure.
The beauty of playing Tales of Monkey Island on Wii instead of a PC is that the slow-down factor sometimes stumbled upon in the home computer edition is pretty much nullified on WiiWare. Also, the control set-up is slightly better suited to the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination as opposed to using a keyboard. Whilst it can indeed be played with a Wii Remote alone, using the mixture of infra-red pointer for highlighting and interacting with items and people around the various locations, along with the Nunchuk's analogue stick for walking (or running if holding down the Z button) is far more intuitive and makes playing through the adventure an extremely smooth and enjoyable experience.
The core game has remained almost unchanged from Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, but the important factor is how Telltale Games has developed the story, pacing its development expertly, drip-feeding consumers with just enough to make each episode an essential purchase, but not giving so much away that the impending final part will likely be an anticlimax. For 1,000 Points it may seem a little over-priced, but considering there are retail games on the market that only last around four or five hours for a full GBP40, paying less than GBP10 for each chapter here does not look too awful in comparison. Next up? Episode 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood!
Logical puzzles throughout, a very user-friendly interface and cleverly crafted tight-knit world make the whole experience thoroughly enjoyable.
Considering the size of the PC version, the fact that this has been squeezed onto the WiiWare service without many issues is definitely impressive.
As with the past episodes, the voice work is exemplary and accompanied by a memorable soundtrack.
At 1,000 Points players are given an adventure that lasts between two and four hours, whilst offering no replay value at all. But it definitely proves to be fun throughout!
Telltale Games continues to successfully introduce the world of Monkey Island to a whole new audience whilst keeping long-term fans satisfied with great gameplay, rib-tickling humour and plenty of nods to past outings. Episode 3 Lair of the Leviathan is every bit as good as the last two entries, if not better thanks to some much-welcomed tweaks.