Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal

I was very excited when I learned that the Curse of Monkey Island franchise had been given new life by Tellgame Games in the form of the episodic Tales of Monkey Island. My excitement grew when I learned that I could download the first chapter, “Launch of the Screaming Narwhal”, on the Wii for $10 dollars. Then I actually played the game and my excitement stumbled to the erratic rhythm of the game’s poor performance.

I really thought that the Wii would be a perfect fit for Monkey Island‘s vibrant graphics and slow puzzle/adventure pacing. But the game is somewhat choppy with load times that, while not outlandish, seem a little excessive given the content they’re serving up. If you run across the screen, the seams really begin to split open as the video shifts violently and the audio hiccups and repeats. While not a console powerhouse like the PS3 or XBox, the Wii does run Super Mario Galaxy just fine… I would think it should be able to handle the relatively pedestrian needs of Launch of the Screaming Narwhal. My best guess is that the game just isn’t optimized for the Wii; perhaps they wrote the PC version, then used some sort of generic porting utility to get it running on the Wii.

Performance aside, the look and feel of a Monkey Island game is duplicated quite well. The music, characters, Caribbean backdrops, entertaining puzzles, and amusing dialogue are all present – even Dominic Armato is back to voice Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty PirateTM. And yes, annoyingly the TM symbol appears in the dialogue subtitles. The game’s sense of humor wasn’t as good as I remember it, but perhaps I’m just viewing the past with rose-tinted glasses. Though certainly, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal is clever, funny, and includes a few “LOL” moments. Graphically… well, when your non-techie girlfriend says, “These graphics suck, can we play Fallout?”, you know they aren’t exactly brilliant. I thought they were fine, but I did expect them to be a little higher-res.

Quite a lot of complaining for a game that’s only $10, huh? There was enough content there to last me somewhere around 6-10 hours, so the price is well worth it. I definitely intend to purchase the next chapter, and am hoping to see some performance enhancements on the Wii, though I’m not holding my breath for that. Overall, I found Launch of the Screaming Narwhal to be relaxing, lighthearted, and fun – just want you want from the Monkey Island franchise.

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