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Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 2 - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Tales of Monkey Island: Episode Two - The Seige of Spinner Cay

WiiWare | Telltale Games | 1 Player | Out Now | 1,000 Wii Points
Controller Compatability: Wii Remote (Pointer); Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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29th September 2009; By KnucklesSonic8

SPOILER ALERT !  This review may feature minor spoilers regarding Tales of Monkey Island Episode One - Launch of the Screaming Narwhal

A fearless pirate tries to save his beloved wife from a sinister villain and winds up cursed and responsible for chaos all over the Caribbean! This is the situation Guybrush Threepwood has found himself in Telltale's episodic series, Tales of Monkey Island. When we left Guybrush off at the end of the first chapter, he found himself cornered by a mysterious entity ready to do him in! As mysteries are unravelled and new questions rise to the surface, how does "Siege of Spinner Cay" stack up against the first entry in the series? 

    After a quick recap of the events from the first chapter, the game picks up right where Chapter 1 left off, wasting no time in cutting to the chase. The mysterious entity introduced to us at the end of the first chapter is unmasked to be Morgan LeFlay, a determined pirate hunter who has been hired by Marquis de Singe to retrieve Guybrush's pox-infected hand. This character adds a more adult overtone to the game very early on and you'll see that this carries over to other aspects in the episode as well. After some small dialogue, you'll already find yourself engaged in the game, searching for a way to defeat the hunter during an extended duel scene. It's great that this spans out on the whole deck of the boat instead of in just one isolated area as it creates some tension on the part of the player (in part thanks to some well-implemented camera angles). 

It is hoped that this new pirate hunter gets more of a spotlight in the next episode as some will find that the character wasn't developed enough. Additionally, the wacky French villain from the Launch of the Screaming Narwhal only makes a tiny appearance in the entirety of this episode, but it's enough for the player to start piecing together how his role pertains to a rising sub-plot or two that seem to be building. 

    It was great to see that, unlike the newly-introduced pirate hunter, the main characters were developed further throughout the episode and overall, were rather well cast. If Chapter 1 was designed to introduce you to the world of Guybrush Threepwood, Chapter 2 will get you attached to not only the mighty pirate himself, but LeChuck and Elaine as well. Some of the dialogue exchanged between LeChuck and Guybrush, for example, can be hilarious at times particularly towards the middle of the chapter. LeChuck is cast so well that it's very likely that his new character will string a cord or two with the player. Elaine's role also wields an even stronger spotlight in this episode. Breaking the stereotype that she's simply just "Guybrush's (defenseless) love interest", Elaine shows herself to be a rather bold character all on her own and this is great to see. 

Players will also quickly notice the mix of emotions with regards to these three main characters. The manner in which both Elaine and Guybrush respond to LeChuck's transformation is well-played indeed and it definitely keeps things interesting. This in turn creates a more engaging experience for the player, deciding for themselves whether or not LeChuck should be trusted, and posing other questions about certain scenes in the episode. For example, could there be some hidden significance behind Elaine giving Guybrush her wedding ring that will be explored in the next episode? To feature such engaging gameplay for the player is, undeniably, a great experience and Telltale should be applauded for the manner in which they've been able to make this happen. 

    The other new characters Guybrush will encounter include Mer-people and some pirates who have been infected by the pox. Although it's forgiveable that many of the Mer-people look similar (since this is in line with some of the humour found in this episode), many of the pox-infected pirates look like the townsfolk from the preceding episode which is a bit of a let-down. There could be an underlying motive behind this but until this becomes evident, most will find that the new characters are uninspiring and not as funny as the characters found in the first episode. We know Telltale is capable of doing better than this so hopefully we'll see more unique, compelling characters in the next episode. 

    There's definitely some good dialogue in this episode with some funny line choices which have more of an impact this time around. In the first episode, the developers teased you with a funny dialogue choice only to have Guybrush use a pre-determined line choice instead. This time, Guybrush will say even the most silly of options and this keeps in check with the humour. Telltale has also thrown in some dialogue references to past Monkey Island adventures but it's a shame that these won't be appreciated as much by newer players who have yet to experience any of Guybrush's previous ventures. If they were incorporated a little better, newer gamers probably -would've found more to laugh about instead of unintentionally passing them over. The running gag of the Pyrite Parrot continues here and while some may be growing rather weary of it, it's used in some rather humourous ways throughout the episode (especially towards the end) which prevents it from becoming too dull. Some of the interactions between Guybrush and the pirates further touch on the aforementioned adult overtone that LeFlay first introduces. There are some implied inneundo's and the likes but they're incorporated in a rather mild manner in such a way that they can be appreciated by older gamers but also won't offend younger audiences. This aspect alone further shows how strong and immersive the writing is in this episode and it's really impressive. 

It should be no surprise that the episode contains some truly challenging puzzles and we can guarantee that you will get stumped on more than one occasion. Trial and error comes into play in a couple situations but even with this, you'll still find yourself hard-pressed to discover solutions on certain puzzles. Some of the solutions defy instinctive logic and you'll find yourself searching for and combining even the most unlikely of items to find the solution. In this respect, the second episode does something different when compared with the puzzles found within the first episode, especially when it comes to variety. 

    Most will quickly observe that the game's flow is more organized than in the first episode. Things are more clear with what you have to do in each circumstance, which is a nice change from some of the confusion and guess work some may have encountered in the first episode, but that doesn't make the puzzles any easier. Some may find themselves losing patience a bit more than in they did in episode one, but thankfully, you have hints for those times when you've completed exhausted all mental resources. Unfortunately, some of the hints are almost completely useless and although this gets the player to use their brains, it can be frustrating if the player either has no idea what to do or has overlooked something minor. 

The million-dollar question, though, is how does the game fare on a technical standpoint? It's a huge relief to see that Telltale has definitely made some notable improvements in this episode in many respects. For starters, the map used to navigate around each island functions perfectly! In the first episode, there were some notable delays with Guybrush travelling from one point to another but it's been completely rectified in this episode with no delays at all. This time, though, the animations for Guybrush's running movements have also been fixed, with things being a lot less choppy than they were before. On a slightly-related note, the framerate is also a lot more stable than it was in the first episode and in certain locations and scenes, the visuals look really impressive and fluid in comparison. 

    Not everything has been fixed, though. There are still a couple of glitches some may encounter even when the game autosaves but thankfully it's nothing game-breaking. Although it's not 100% perfect, it's clear that Telltale has worked hard at rectifying some key problems that plagued the first episode, and for that reason alone, I'm very hopeful that Telltale will be able to iron out any remaining kinks for the next few episodes in preparation for the epic season finale. 

As far as audio goes, there are times when the background music can drown out some of the dialogue so it's recommended that players turn subtitles on and maybe even lower the background audio levels a point or two. Other than this minor issue, the episode contains some good music but I still have yet to be blown away with the background music and that's definitely something I'd like to see get worked on. The scenes at the beginning and end had some good themes but the BGM found during the scenes in between didn't do much to impress. Hopefully Telltale will use stronger music to capture scenes more effectively in the next episode (perhaps music with a more "spooky" or "eerie" feel). It was really nice to see how everything came together as a whole and also to see how Telltale set things up for the next episode. The endings for both episodes were a tad unexpected but the events leading up to the ending in this episode were definitely executed better than in Launch of the Screaming Narwhal. I was personally really happy that the second episode ended the way it did as it made for less predictability. If the series continued in a fashion where Guybrush just kept travelling to islands, it's likely that some would find the task a little cumbersome. Thankfully the developers have prevented this and have set the scene for a more tense, compelling episode by including a nice little plot twist. It's a bit of a shame, though, that the episode itself doesn't instill a whole lot of reasons in the player to come back and play through it again - once you're done, you're done. Hopefully Telltale will be able to focus more on replay value in the next few episodes as there's even less of a reason to come back to this one. 

    All in all, "The Siege of Spinner Cay" is a worthy successor to the episode that started it all and it definitely feels more like a continuation than a whole other episode on its own. The puzzles are still as challenging as ever but it's definitely more humourous and gripping than the first episode. Through some truly excellent script writing, the developers have made for more engaging gameplay this time around, with a lot more tension. In so doing, the second chapter accomplishes exactly what it should: taking the successes of the first episode and building an even bigger ball of momentum that will leave players both satisfied and preoccupied with many unanswered questions. By the end of it all, you'll find yourself longing eagerly for the next episode and for that reason alone, Telltale can rightly call the episode a success. 

25/30 - Very Good

Gameplay 10/10  - Steady progression all the way through with some surprises, witty humour returns (with a bit more force) as do the challenging puzzles
Presentation 9/10 - Many technical flaws from episode 1 have been rectified to make for a more enjoyable experience; excellent voice work and script 
Enjoyment 5/5 - Truly enjoyable all the way through; very few points where you'll find yourself totally serious or bored; a romp well worth going through
Extra Content 1/5 -  Not as much replay value like in the first episode; hopefully Telltale will work on this for future episodes

Equivalent to a score of 83% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Tales of Monkey Island: Episode Two - The Siege of Spinner Cay
Review | Screenshot gallery | Trailer | Preview | Feature | Interview

Related Game
Tales of Monkey Island: Episode One - Launch of the Screaming Narwhal
Review | Screenshot gallery | Trailer | Preview | Feature | Interview
Review by KnucklesSonic8  |  How we rate games

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