Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tales of Monkey Island

I've been putting this one off for a while, probably so that I didn't have to admit that the newest installation of what was once a great video game series, the long awaited Monkey Island 5...isn't good. I'll start with just a general (spoiler-free) review here, then in later posts (maybe as I replay it) I'll go through each one in more detail.

So, where do I begin here? Well, let's start with something positive. Maybe I'll do this in a good news/bad news or point/counterpoint format.

So, good news: fist point is that it's a welcome change from the atrocity that was Escape From Monkey Island, which favored an extended and overdone joke about tourists, which completely broke the game world. It would have been one thing had it been just a joke, or even a minor plot point. (I would have still hated it, but at least I could write it off) But no, it was the premise of the game. The main story. 'Guybrush vs. the Tourists.' (Granted, 'Guybrush vs. the Tourist Pirate Le Chuck' does have an odd ring to it, but maybe I'm just sick of 'Guybrush Vs. the Zombie/Demon Pirate Le Chuck' for the fourth time)

But enough about Monkey Island 4, this is about Mokey Island 5, or rather, Tales of Monkey Island. This is my first grievance for the game. It's 'not' Monkey Island 5. It takes place after the 'imaginary' Monkey Island 5. The more I think about this, the more it just seems like the reasoning here is to give the developers leave to do whatever they freaking want regardless of what's best for the series. Want to know what I mean? Read up on Malstrom's views of the Zelda series. He should be writing an article (one on his main site, not his blog) that addresses this very thing as he talks about the 'essence' of Zelda.

Good News the second: We leave the Tri-Island area to explore a new area of the 'Caribbean', the Gulf of Melange. This way we avoid a problem of Monkey Island 4, which re-tread old ground, and brought up massive ret-cons. (Herman Toothrot is Elaine's father? LOLWUT?) We leave that all behind, and I feel the game was better off for it.

Grievance the second: We leave Monkey Island with the Tri-Island area. That's right Monkey Island makes no appearance whatsoever in a game called Monkey Island. I was expecting it. The end of the forth part made a perfect set-up for it. And it didn't happen.

My only question is why? Why didn't we go to Monkey Island? Was it that hard to render Monkey Island in 3D? The treasure of Big Whoop (the source of Le Chuck's power) is in Monkey Island. No, instead Le Chuck gets his power from some vague 'voodoo energy.' This game is like a Zelda game set outside of Hyrule with Ganondorf as the main villain, Zelda's there too, and the Triforce is a non-factor and is only referred to as some vague power. (oh, wait.)

Good thing #3: The characters that you're expecting to always show up do. Stan, the Voodoo Lady, Murray, They're all there.

Grievance #3: The 'staple' characters that are stuck with always showing up make token appearances. 'Look, it's the voodoo lady!' 'Look, It's Stan, with his waving arms and impossible jacket!' 'Look! Look!! IT'S MURRAAAAAAAY!!!!!11!' *cue fanfare and fireworks, someone sreams, "Onion Bubs!"* "I will destroy you all!" quips murray. *cue laughtrack*

You know what, Murray actually reminds me of something...
Maybe I should make a Monkey Island Abridged series. *strokes beard*

You've shown me with this game that you're wanting to move on, but still you insist on beating dead horses. You insist on using the old characters, but where's Meathook? Wally? The Men of Low Moral Fiber? Was the new locale just a poor attempt at solving a 'getting stale' complaint without actually addressing the problem?

One more good thing: it's inspired a hilarious "I wonder what happens" semi-series that I just discovered, that goes through each episode before it came out. (spoilers of previous installments after the first.)

Corollary: I like the "I wonder what happens" more than I do the game.

Let's just end this with one final General Grievance: As with Zelda Twilight Princess and especially Spirit Tracks, as well as Video Game Movies (Hollywood and fan made), this game gives me the feeling that if you just changed some names and character models, you would have a separate game entirely, and nothing would really change except who gets paid. Yes, what you'd have is a rip-off/parody of Monkey Island, but that's what this is anyway. At least you'd be acknowledging what you're doing.

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