Telltale have certainly reinvigorated the Monkey Island series. This is the second game in the series of five, you can read my review of the first one, which has now made it’s way to WiiWare. The Siege of Spinner Cay continues right on from where Launch of the Screaming Narwhal left off. If you’re planning on playing Tales of Monkey Island at all on PC, you’ll need to purchase the full season. Which is how the game should ideally be played, chapter after chapter. The Siege of Spinner Cay is every bit as funny as the first and marks an interesting advancement in Guybrush Threepwood’s quest to rid the Caribbean of the pox of LeChuck.
After a brief introduction by the Voodoo Priestess we’re straight back into it, Guybrush on a rollicking pirate ship with a sword at his neck. He’s soon thrust into an epic sword fight but unfortunately for him it’s not the insult sword fighting kind.
I’m just going to describe the opening of this episode so feel free to read past this bit if you’d like. Now you find out the person wielding the sword is Morgan LeFlay, a mercenary and one of Guybrush’s biggest fans. Yet she still wants to face him as the De Singe (the crazy Frenchman from the last chapter) sent her to collect Guybrush’s pox ridden hand. Something quite shocking happens in their battle, which will affect Guybrush for the rest of the chapter and quite possibly the rest of the series.
After the opening encounter, the map is open with a few places to visit, you have a bit more freedom to explore the various islands. Most are tiny islands with nothing much on them at all. The big islands Rock of Gelato and Flotsam are inaccessible, which is more than understandable for a small episode like this. Still a bit of a shame though. When you reach The Jerkbait Islands to find Elaine, you’ll start off with a few Inventory items from the previous chapter. Being the lucky fellow that he is, Guybrush needs to get his ship repaired but he soon gets tangled up in even more trouble when he finds Elaine in a diplomatic dispute between the leader of the Merfolk and a poxed pirate named McGillicutty. The Merfolk have hidden away three golden artefacts but McGillicutty and his crew want to find these, as they lead the way to Esponja Grande, the special pox destroying sponge. The Jerkbait Islands are made up of Spinner Cay (the main epicentre), Spoon Isle (jungle covered) and Roe Island (DeCava’s home). You’ll find out more about Coronada DeCava who has gone missing looking for Esponja Grande, but there’s still a lot of mystery and unanswered questions.
The conversation dialogue is still not as witty as the Monkey Island games of times long past. Some of the jokes are a bit of a hit and miss and the tone feels a bit too plain a lot of the time. But there is a whole lot more sexual innuendo this time around, which can only be a good thing right? Not to mention a bunch of nice nods to the previous games, especially to The Curse of Monkey Island, which is a satisfying touch for the experienced pirate.
The graphical detail in Tales of Monkey Island continues to be charming and well polished. The islands are surrounded by a constant, lovely orange and pink filled sky. The locations are interesting although the jungle on Spoon Isle looks very similar to the one on Flotsam. Telltale have taken a small step backwards with regards to the map. The various locations on Spoon Isle in particular make it irritating having to walk through the jungle dozens of times, not to mention getting lost in the process. In the main ocean map, one of the islands is tucked away in the corner which I totally missed the first time, seems to me it was hidden that way on purpose!
I won’t go into too much detail on the puzzles, they’re for you to figure out. One of the funnier puzzles involves Guybrush coursing a stubborn LeChuck through a series of dialogue hints as he wants to figure out a puzzle on his own! Mr. Winslow is back as the sole other person on your crew. His constant demand for you to point to the map, even after Guybrush explicitly mentions his desired location, gets funnier as the story progresses.
The Siege of Spinner Cay has made my day, by not only including new characters but interesting ones at that too. A bunch of mermaids, rather Merfolk, who were mentioned before on Flotsam. Their race is called the Vacaylians, they are partly green and blue coloured and stay in the water. Alemone and Tetra are pretty unique, flirting rather creepily with Guybrush, creepy even more so seeing as he cannot tell what gender they are! Although the MerLeader fell kinda flat to me, he/she didn’t have much of a personality. McGillicutty is a villain but he seems to be mostly harmless. A couple of his men are extremely similar to the ones found in Pirates of the Caribbean. In fact they’re even guarding a treasure box! Human LeChuck gets a lot more screen time. He’s supposedly a good guy now, helping Elaine find the artefacts and returning his monkey slaves to the wild, but Guybrush can’t help but think something is up. Even though he’s not a flesh-rotting, flame-bearded zombie anymore, LeChuck is suspiciously nice, even for a human. I still hope Telltale plan on bringing back some of the older characters, I would just love to see Stan and Murray again.
The Siege of Spinner Cay is a lot more enjoyable overall than the last chapter. Telltale have a good thing going here. If you’re planning on playing any of the Tales of Monkey Island, I’d heartily recommend you play them in the order they were intended. Telltale’s release structure for their games seems out of place, putting select episodes on some platforms but not others. Spreading the love they say, but I can imagine episodic games really taking off if every episode were released at around the same time, on platforms like Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network. It’s a great game and it should really be accessible in more places. Hapless Guybrush needs all the help he can get.
Released 21/08/09. Download Season One here.