Review: Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 2: The Siege of Spinner Cay
Title: Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 2: The Siege of Spinner Cay
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
TL;DR: This chapter of the game is significantly a lot more engaging than the first chapter was.
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When we left Guybrush Threepwood, he’d just escaped the mysterious winds of Flotsam Island aboard the well-meaning sailing ship The Screaming Narwhal. However, his hand is still cursed, and LeChuck – now in human form – seems, from a distance, to be courting fair Elaine’s favor. To top it all, he’s been intercepted by a mysterious figure, yet unrevealed. I wonder what happens next…!
The second chapter starts off exactly where the first chapter ends: with a blade being pressed against Guybrush’s neck. The ambush quickly turns into a full-blown, amazingly choreographed swordfight. The mysterious attacker is revealed to be Morgan LeFlay, a highly skilled female assassin and pirate hunter (sort of Xena of the Carribean) and perhaps Guybrush’s greatest (if not the only) fan. Fortunately, Guybrush’s fate does not end here. Rather, this is only the beginning of an adventure for Guybrush that will lead to a reunion with his wife Elaine, a tenuous alliance with the now human pirate LeChuck, a confrontation with the voodoo pox stricken crew of Captain McGillicutty, and finally a friendship with several of the more and less mythical creatures of the Caribbean sea—all the while on the lookout for the legendary La Esponja Grande.
Mark Darin takes over the role for artistic development in this game, rather than Michael Stemmle. This change may explain the somewhat different artistic style that is evident between the games. The storyline is now more swashbuckling, and the characters are more eccentric. Furthermore, the writing and the humor reach the excellence of (dare I say) the original Monkey Island games from LucasArts. Interestingly, many of the jokes are surprisingly filled with sexual innuendos that are a bit uncharacteristic of the franchise. An example of this is the somewhat creepy, sexually ambiguous Anemone, who makes subtle advances towards Guybrush. Even Winslow, Guybrush’s first mate on the Screaming Narwhal, engages Guybrush in awkward conversations about his wife’s private martial interests.
Playing a vital role in this game is the navigational map mounted on the Screaming Narwhal. As the ship is not bounded by the winds of Flotsam Island anymore, Guybrush can now freely traverse the surrounding waters to visit the various smaller and bigger islands nearby. For the most part, the smaller islands are devoid of any special points of interest, except for bits of sand, pieces of rocks, and a few palm trees. Even the city of Spinner Cay, the central attraction of Jerkbait Islands, is visually less impressive than Flotsam Island’s windy city of junk, cultured pirates, and mad scientists. Notwithstanding the more unusual residents living there, Spinner Cay is basically just pointy pieces of rocks and corals rising out of the water which does not look particularly attractive or interesting. This means that, despite having great scenes of dramatic swordfights and sea battles, the game is regrettably devoid of memorably or strikingly looking locales. Moreover, some of the new pirate characters reuse models from the previous game.
There isn’t nearly as much memorizing or pattern recognition this time around, as the puzzles are extremely cut and dry without much need to backtrack. This makes The Siege of Spinner Cay a breeze to play through – even too easy at spots – making it as one of the least challenging Telltale episodes. That’s not to say this isn’t worth playing… far from it. Chapter Two carries the same brand of humor and witty dialogue we’ve come to expect from the Canadian developer, even making references to past Monkey Island games at times, for the old time players.
The biggest flaw I found was in the game’s inbuilt hint-system. There are several levels of helpfulness you can set, with Guybrush prompting you more often with help with each higher level. However, it didn’t work as well as I would have liked, with Guybrush too often defaulting to “I need to find some more stuff to plunder, arr!” or along those lines. Something akin to the hint system in The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition would definitely have helped, where you get more and more specific hints depending on how often you ask for them.
However, despite clocking in with noticeably less gameplay than in Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, the Siege of Spinner Cay episode has a more involved storyline to submerge gamers in. Even if The Siege of Spinner Cay lives on to be remembered as one of the easier games of the Telltale episodic catalog, it’s a worthwhile three hours of entertainment. The humor is excellently well-written, and the setup to Chapter Three is more than enough to make up for the stale beginning of the Tales of Monkey Island series. If you haven’t taken the plunge into the new Monkey Island, now is a good time to do it.
- Highly improved plot
- More of the characters you know and love
- References to past Monkey Island games
Bad times :(
- Fairly short gamee
- Easy puzzles
- I mean really easy
Aside from slight awkward jokes that don’t really fit in with the Monkey Island franchise, it is an easy enough game for children to play and enjoy. The hint-system, while frustrating for those looking for a challenge, are great for the little ones. The game does provide thought-provoking puzzles that will keep children engaged. It is also a bit on the short side which is great for children as they tend to have shorter attention spans… ;) if they enjoyed the first one, they’ll love the second one!