Tales of Monkey Island Episode 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal - WiiWare

I am a newcomer to the Monkey Island universe. My first experience with the franchise was literally a few weeks ago with the release of the special edition of Secret of Monkey Island. As a huge fan of the point-and-click genre, I’m amazed I never dabbled in these games before but I can immediately see what all the fuss is about. I do plan on going through and playing the old games, but in the meantime I was ready to try out the newest entry in the series in many years.

This is of course the first episode out of an eventual five. I played through it on WiiWare as I’m terrified that my PC won’t be able to run these games well. Unfortunately WiiWare doesn’t give you the option to pay for all five episodes up front, so in the long run this is going to end up costing me more than the PC versions would ($50 as opposed to $35). It really doesn’t upset me though because if the remaining five episodes are along these same levels of quality, it’s absolutely worth the asking price.

I actually don’t want to give any story details away but I will say that you are re-introduced to all of the classic characters within the first 30 seconds. Guybrush, Elaine, LeChuck, they are all here and they are almost all voiced by the original actors. From there the story does include some pretty interesting twists and turns that keep you interested and will leave you excited for the following chapter.

Of course where the Monkey Island games are truly known to shine is in their writing, and this game carries on that tradition proudly. The writing here is top-notch. The characters are funny and creative, the dialogue trees are always full of witty responses, and there are dozens of things that have no bearing on the actual game, but are just fun to observe and interact with. Basically if you’re a fan of the classic Monkey Island style, this won’t disappoint.

One thing that can easily make or break a game such as this is the puzzles. There needs to be a fine balance here. For example, you don’t want a series of puzzles that are too easy.

“Ok I have to pick the lock on this door and in my inventory I have a cup of chocolate pudding, a roller skate, a small leopard and a lockpick. Hmmmm….”

Then on the other hand of the spectrum, you don’t want the game to be full of puzzles that simply aren’t logical or coherent.

“Ok well that’s done. All I had to do to reach the key on the high shelf was combine the super glue with the turtle, stick him to the ceiling, then tie the rope to the turtle, then attach the steak to the end of the rope, use the lion on the steak who clamps onto the end of the rope, his weight causing it to fall down and take apart a chunk of the ceiling, then I trade the chunk of ceiling to the carpenter who gives me a stepladder which I trade for a giant magnet which I use to get the compass from behind the bed which guides me to the hole where I use the spoon to dig a hole and find the extendo-shoes, which I give to the tall man who reaches up and gets me the key.”

Games like that exist, trust me. For the ideal adventure game experience you want something in the middle of those two extremes. You want puzzles that provide a challenge and make you think, but make complete sense when you finally do figure them out. Both of the Monkey Island games that I’ve played so far have accomplished this well. You won’t breeze through the game, but when you get stuck you shouldn’t stay there for very long. I’m actually proud to say that we (fiancée and I) managed to complete the game without consulting a walkthrough a single time. And yes, I do want a cookie.

The game is of course pretty short. I think it took us around five hours to beat. However for 10 bucks, you get a lot of entertainment. I for one don’t at all regret my purchasing decision and am highly looking forward to the remaining five episodes.