Review: Tales of Monkey Island Bundle (Sony PS3)

Tales of Monkey Island Bundle
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games/LucasArts
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 06/15/2010

So last year I had the pleasure of reviewing the Tales of Monkey Island as it was released on PC in monthly installments. This year I snuck in and nabbed it for the PS3 and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was complete and I could play through the whole thing right away. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind episodic content, but it was a nice surprise that all five chapters were ready to go. So why don’t I get down to the nitty gritty and see how Tales of Monkey Island has made the transition over from the PC to one of my favorite consoles. I’ll be going back to my old review and re-visit some thoughts there so anything I’m bringing over from that will be in italics here.

Story/Modes
Chapter 1 starts off with Guybrush chasing down LeChuck, yet again. This time he’s kidnapped your wife Elaine and has his ship full of monkeys who he’s using in some kind of mad ritual. Guybrush has a plan to stop him involving enchanting his sword with fizzy root beer that will put an end to LeChuck, but something goes wrong and LeChuck becomes un-cursed, while Guybrush’s hand becomes evil. In the fight with LeChuck a fire breaks out and blows up the ship sending everyone off in different directions. Guybrush washes up on Flotsam Island and kicks up another mess.

It seems he can’t leave the island as the wind is blowing in toward the island from all points around it. There’s a mad scientist on the island enamored with your evil hand, a cobbled together pirate ship you have to steal, and of course reversing the wind so you can leave. Mad pirate hijinks ensue and Guybrush ends up unleashing the pox that infects his hand in an ever-spreading disease or curse that he finds out from the Voodoo Lady that he’ll have to take care of by finding a Giant Sponge to suck up the evil. A Mighty Pirate’s work is never done!

Dodging Morgan LeFlay, hunting down LeChuck and Elaine, trying to find a Giant Manatee and La Esponja Grande, ending up in a pirate version of Law and Order, and even facing the Ferryman and coming back from the dead. This Monkey Island adventure is a nice roller coaster ride and all the usual wit and humor that comes with the series is here. Telltale did a fantastic job bringing this series into an episodic and 3D format that you want to keep playing just to hear what Guybrush and crew will come up with next.

Story/Modes Rating: Classic

Graphics
This game was such a departure from the Monkey Island 2D being that this is full blown 3D models and not a sprite to be found. This both works for and against the game. While the models do look great and the issues I had with them on the PC aren’t as noticeable on my television, there is still lacking a certain visual flair. The look and feel of the previous Monkey Island games is captured here though which is the more important aspect of going away from the 2D playing field. It still has that charm one can expect from a Monkey Island game, but you’re not really going to be blown away by the visuals, it’s just not that kind of game.

The characters are well-designed. The environments are fun to move around and interact with and the only one that feels off is still the giant Manatee. Very few games have pulled off the ‘internal organ of a giant animal’ look. While it works for what’s needed here, most of the rest of the areas really outshine that one by a lot.

Graphics Rating: Good

Sound
The character voices are fantastically done and really bring this game to life and suck you in. The dialogue is really well written and fits each of the characters. There is music to the game but it’s not that memorable. For the most part everything flows along really well. I still have problems taking Elaine seriously towards the end of the game when she’s doing this over the top performance. The rest of the time the voice cast is great. The ambient effects are pretty good and I don’t know whether it was by design or not but it works really well with my surround sound set up and helped get me more into the game than when I was playing it on my laptop. The issues I’d had with sound syncing up to the dialogue on the PC version is non-existent here and that makes it even better.

Sound Rating: Very Good

Control and Gameplay
The controls for this are fairly simple. Movement is handled by the left analog stick. To access the title menu hit start. Inventory and character or object interactions are all handled by different face buttons. While the game is lacking a pointer from the mouse like on the PC version, one thing they’ve done is make it so the right analog stick scrolls a bit through the selectable destinations to make movement easier. I’d been having a tough time moving around to select things when I figured out you can scroll through every selectable item on the screen using the L1 and R1 buttons until you get to the item you want to interact with which makes things much easier. If you’d had to rely on moving to the right spot it’d make this game almost unplayable in some parts. So very glad this wasn’t the case here.

Gameplay pretty much follows what you’d expect from an adventure game. Wander around, talk to people, pick up objects and figure out how they fit into certain puzzles, if at all. There are a few instances where they change camera angles which make it a bit difficult to figure out where you’re supposed to be going, but the environments are usually detailed enough where it isn’t that much of a problem. You do have several dialogue options with the differing characters you meet, but other than revealing different parts of the story or backstory for the characters it really doesn’t change the interactions thereafter, so you can be as much of a jerk as you like if that’s how you want to play it.

Aside from the normal talking to characters and mixing objects to get the right combination you want, there are some fun games within the game, like trying to assemble the most frightening face to get unwilling crew to do what you want. There are some timed events, but for the most part you can go at your own pace and take as much or as little time as you need.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Great

Replayability
While this was a ton of fun, subsequent playthroughs will be faster and easier which might cut down on the fun for some players. That and you can’t really skip some of the more inane dialogue (or at least I couldn’t figure out how when I was playing the first chunk over again). One thing that’s changed from the PC version of the game is the inclusion of trophies on the PS3. While you might expect a game like this to just give you trophies for getting through it, thus dropping the replayablilty quite a bit, one thing they’ve done is tied some of the trophies to different events or dialogue choices in the game that you won’t always hit if you’re just running through to beat the game and not trying everything. There are 55 trophies to collect between all five chapters which is a fairly respectable amount for a game like this.

It’s a neat way to deal with this sort of thing in an adventure game and yes I’ll have to go around and do some of the chapters multiple times to get it all because I missed my shot the first time, like annoying Morgan LeFlay in Chapter 2. If you’re not into trophies and just like the story and puzzles it’s still amusing enough to come back to a number of times.

Replayability Rating: Good

Balance
One of the big selling points for this on the PS3 is that it’s on the PSN and is 15 bucks cheaper than buying the PC or Mac version. Granted you don’t get a disc for it with all five chapters on it but at the same time you do get all five chapters to download and save to your PS3 for only $20. That’s a great deal for this and if I didn’t already have a copy I’d definitely pick it up for PS3 even liking the controls on the PC a bit more. As I’d mentioned in my other reviews, as the chapters progress, for the most part the complexity of the puzzles and things you need to take care of grows quite a bit. There are a few exceptions, but there is a nice steady progression and things aren’t so needlessly complicated it’ll leave you tearing your hair out trying to figure out how to get around whatever obstacle you’re stuck on at the moment.

Balance Rating: Incredible

Originality
While this game is a nice addition to the series, and this is really the first time it’s been episodic, there isn’t much that’s original here. You’re still dealing with the overall main villain, the same hero, his wife, and a few other pop-ups from previous games. So while this has a fresh new spin it’s mostly things I’ve seen before. And again, it’s a sequel, so, um, yeah.

Even having played through this before, most of the witty dialogue got me all over again. While the trophy system addition was a nice touch there isn’t really anything new here for people if they already have this on PC or the Wii. This is something we’ve seen before last year, but it is nice to have it on another system for people who haven’t picked it up, or are like me and are looking for some nice inexpensive fun.

Originality Rating: Below Average

Addictiveness
Shortness aside, you’re looking at about 10 to 15 hours to beat all five chapters, this game does suck you in even when you’re frustrated because you’re missing something obvious about the current puzzle that’s staring you in the face. When I actually got down to play this game it was a fast two and a half hours for the first chapter, but it was the only thing going on and I didn’t really take a break from it until those end credits rolled. Then I wanted more. I like a good title that pulls you in and keeps your interest, and this is one of those titles that manages to do just that.

Addictiveness Rating: Classic

Appeal Factor
A family friendly PSN title that really captures that original Monkey Island feel and it’s not just a special edition of an older Monkey Island title. Even though it’s coming as a bundle, the chapters still install separately and you can have multiple save games going on within those chapters. The chapters themselves aren’t that long and most people have a spare couple of hours to play through just one here and there and if not you can save and pick up where you were. There’s a lot of Monkey Island charm here even making the leap to 3D and really the price is beyond fair for this bundle. If I didn’t already have it I’d snatch it up in a heartbeat.

Appeal Factor Rating: Classic

Miscellaneous
With some of the original Monkey Island creators and writers on board with this title it was sure to be a fun time. Add to it that this title has had time to make it to the PSN without any glitches or crashes that I could find. Throw in some nice trophies that you have to work just a little bit to pick up all of them and you’ve got a nice recipe for a great title. Of the versions out there I prefer the PS3 version. While the PC version was nice, this one has the more polished and complete feel to it. Granted they had a year from when they first started releasing the chapters to port it over to the PS3, but it just looks and plays great on the system and I have no complaints.

Miscellaneous Rating: Classic

The Scores
Story/Modes Rating: Classic
Graphics Rating: Good
Sound Rating: Very Good
Control and Gameplay Rating: Great
Replayability Rating: Good
Balance Rating: Incredible
Originality Rating: Below Average
Addictiveness Rating: Classc
Appeal Factor Rating: Classic
Miscellaneous Rating: Classic
FINAL SCORE: GREAT GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
asheresize The Tales of Monkey Island Bundle on the PS3 is a great option to pick up this title that has been available elsewhere for some time. It’s quite a bit cheaper than the PC title but the trade-off being you don’t get a disc copy with it. The game has that Monkey Island feel to it with the usual outlandish situations and incredibly funny and witty dialogue. If you haven’t already picked up Tales of Monkey Island I’d highly recommend picking it up this way. It’s a great title for a great price and it deserves a place in any adventure game players collection.

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