From The Archive is a series that takes articles written by Jennifer McMurray in the past and presents them here on MIC News for a new audience.
Tales of Monkey Island is available for modern computers on Steam and on GOG.com.
This review was originally written for Associated Content on February 20, 2010. It was posted on The Adventuress on July 2, 2014.
The game continues right where the last one left off, continuing the cliffhanger as Guybrush begins his search for the voodoo object that will remove the pox of LeChuck from the infected pirates of the Caribbean.
As this game is part of an episodic series, it uses the same interface as the last. For those who have chosen not to play the previous game, or who are reading this review without knowledge of the first, the game gives you three options of control. There is a direct control method using just a keyboard or a mouse, a combination of a keyboard for movement and mouse to select options, and another option dubbed point and drag, where you click Guybrush and drag the mouse to move him around the screen. The click and drag method is a little cumbersome, as you have to release Guybrush to select objects, and then grab him again to move. The keyboard and mouse combination is the most intuitive, although it takes some time to get used to.
Michael Land’s synthesized soundtrack is once again very fitting to the spirit of the series. The music sounds like it could fit right in with the music of any of the previous Monkey Island games. Dominic Armato and Alexandra Boyd once again provide stellar voices as Guybrush and Elaine. I’m happy to see Elaine here in her gubernatorial demeanor, being the stable third party in a dispute between a pirate and the ruler of the merpeople. Elaine has always been a strong character, so it’s good to hear Alexandra Boyd give the character a voice for that dimension of her character, something she wasn’t able to do in Curse of Monkey Island, where Elaine was relegated to a damsel in distress role. Unfortunately, the new pirate characters introduced in this episode are not memorable at all, and because half of the game has Guybrush dealing with them, the game’s pace seems a little bogged down at times. Luckily, the rest of the new characters are much more memorable. There are two new standout characters in this episode: the pirate bounty hunter Morgan LeFlay, and an androgynous merperson named Anemone. Nikki Rapp, who is a new voice actress to the series, but who previously played Lili in Psychonauts, gives a great performance as Morgan. She has a youthful, almost innocent quality to her voice, yet at the same time the way she delivers the lines is powerful and at times even intimidating. Sirenetta Leoni gives a great performance as Anemone. In this game, merpeople are androgynous creatures where there is no division of gender in their language. Anemone’s voice itself has an androgynous quality to it and really adds to the likability of the character in my opinion. The human form of LeChuck is especially entertaining, as he is portrayed as trying to be good although he has no idea how to do it. He is voiced wonderfully by Kevin Blankton, who gives the character almost the prestigious voice Earl Boen gave the mock-human form of Charles L. Charles, but with a bit more naivité in is his voice.
In order to cut down on file size so the game could be released within the WiiWare limits, the developers used two main models for the characters with different features to distinguish them from other characters. This is especially noticeable with the new pirate characters, whose similarity seems to add to their easily forgotten nature. In contrast to the new main characters, the incidental characters are lacking in variety. When they aren’t used often, it’s not noticeable, but when they are used as much as they are in this game, it detracts from the experience somewhat.
The second episode of Tales of Monkey Island is not quite as memorable as the last episode, marred a bit by the new forgettable pirate characters. The new characters of Morgan LeFlay and Anemone make up for this somewhat, as do the on-character portrayals of Elaine and Guybrush, and the hilarious new form of human LeChuck. It doesn’t quite reach the highs of the first episode, but it’s still a worthy addition to the Monkey Island series.
4 out of 5