Tales of Monkey Island Collector’s Edition: review

Two years since their episodic slow release, The Tales of Monkey Island are back in two different special edition boxed forms. If you are yet to sample the delightful “Look behind you” ruse or enjoy the company of a pyrite parrot then now is an excellent time to get in on the action. But what edition do you go for and is this the kind of game for you?

The Collector’s Edition can be picked up for £49.99 (in RRP terms) and offers a decent collection of well made gaming tat. There’s a cloth map that gives you a nice representation of the Gulf of Melange, a metal pirate piece of eight coin, one tarot card (good luck predicting your future with that), a pin badge and a perfectly serviceable Club 41 drinks coaster, all contained in a treasure chest-like package. It’s a nice assortment of game memorabilia that die hard fans of the re-imagined Monkey Island episodes could happily scatter around their desk area. The Premium Edition on the other hand boasts an image galley, some desktop wallpapers and a few forum avatars. You know, the type of stuff that you might have found cool ten years ago.

As far as the game itself is concerned there have been no changes at all. You play Guybrush Threepwood, mighty pirate, and together with your trusty mouse clicking finger you traipse about the Gulf of Melange solving puzzles in an effort to stop a maddening pirate pox that is infecting the population. The core gameplay is your standard point and click adventure affair, with the option of using your keyboard to manoeuvre Guybrush should you wish. It’s a good idea to learn early on that the shift key, as it does in most shooters today, allows Mr Threepwood to sprint, shortening the many stumbles between minor objectives by a fair amount.

Try to run if the voodoo pickled pirate wants to hold hands

Both special editions of the game include all five episodes, just like they were when originally seeded in 2009. We found this to be a slightly frustrating issue as the games are not integrated with each other at all. The game launcher gives you the option to load one of the chapters to play and each one is contained as its own separate game. When one is completed there is no option to immediately load into the next – you have to quit, start the launcher again and click the next chapter. We appreciate that this is how the game was designed and that changes to the infrastructure would be difficult, but even a “Load next chapter” button on each individual game’s menu would have been a progressive addition.

This lack of seamless transition between the episodes really breaks up the flow of the story. It worked great for the initial monthly episodic release plan, but when the game is all in one package, it does rather dictate to the player when they should stop the play session. Tackling the prologue sequence for the next episode always introduces you to new areas, characters or concepts; which immediately slows the pace of the game. You probably wouldn’t feel like jumping into that immediately after concluding the previous chapter.

Gameplay wise it is very hard to fault the mini-series as it does exactly what you want in a point and click adventure game. This is hardly surprising seeing as the series is a continuation of a series that established the genre in the hearts and minds of a generation. Generally speaking you wander around environments, retrieve objects and then use them on something else to complete a puzzle or satisfy the bizarre quest of some of the colourful, random locals.

As cool as a steampunk blunderbuss is, this isn't the view of it you want

At times you will result to trial and error to solve a puzzle and not immediately see the connection when two things happen to combine, or that you were meant to use that thing after talking to this person. While this method is frustrating, the vast majority of point and click games are guilty as Blackbeard’s multiple sins when it comes to this sort of thing. An in-game tip system of some kind would have been a helpful addition, but if you have the patience to talk to everyone regarding your problem they will start to drop hints.

Dialogue is another strong aspect of the game. While a lot of the speech trees you encounter are necessary to progress, a lot of them are there as a bit of comical filler. There are ear tingling treasure troves of dialogue that contain extra gags, character information and just general stuff about the game’s universe that can be clicked out of people.

Even clicking the same item multiple times will yield different responses, which at times get pretty funny and inject even more of that Monkey Island style comedy that fans will love. It’s not a laugh a second, seek out surgery for your split side kind of humour, but the adventure will keep you smiling and there are several genuine laugh out loud moments.

A monkey, a pirate skeleton and a weirdo - yup, it's a Monkey Island game

Those who like their games a little more in the direction of Gears of War or Call of Duty won’t get much from Tales of Monkey Island. This is a game that rewards those who are patient and enjoy slowly discovering things for themselves. If you like the genre or want to get into it there is no better game to pick up.

Those of you who do like to have a few physical items relevant to the game will not be disappointed with the Collector’s Edition. They are high quality collectibles that can take pride of place in a chest full of other collector’s edition memorabilia. If you have no interest in this stuff though, the Premium Edition of course provides the main bit you would want, the game. Just don’t expect to be shivered down to your timbers by its digital extras.


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Written by Anthony H

Anthony has been playing games for far too much of his life, starting with the MS-DOS classic Mario is Missing. Since then his tastes have evolved to include just about anything, but his soft spot lies with shooters and the odd strategy game. Anthony will inspire you with his prose, uplift you with his wit and lie to you in his biography.

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