Monkey Island 5: First Ep Next Week, New Vidaction

By Alec Meer on July 1st, 2009 at 6:01 pm.

The year’s most unexpected sequel is barrelling towards us, and Telltale hope to whet a few more preorder whistles by finally releasing a smidgen of interface’n'puzzle footage – specifically, the opening minutes of the reborn point’n'click adventure. Episode 1, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, is out in just six pirate days (which are like normal days, but with a looser moral code), and if you’re convinced you’re going to love it, you can pay pirate money (which is much like normal money, but with a slight scent of seaweed) for it right now. Video below. Comments that will almost certainly annoy someone are also below.

Laugh? I nearly cried. Actually, I idly checked Twitter instead for half of it, because it sadly failed to raise much chuckleage from my ever-sneering lips. This doesn’t mean the thing’s a cockup, just that, as with the majority of the Sam & Max eps that preceded this, something about the humour simply leaves me cold. I must point out that I do have a sense of humour, lest you wonder. Why, only last decade I laughed at an episode of Yes, Minister.

It’s well-presented visually, however, adding in a big ol’ dose of cinematic that S&M’s more static locations perhaps lacked, and it’s good to see item combination finally find its way into Telltale’s hitherto rather simplistic puzzling system. If the humour does tickle your pirate funny bone (which is much like a normal funny bone, but with a picture of a parrot on it), I can’t see any reason why you won’t have a wonderful time with this first of five episodes. Me, though: I’m going to go paint the corner of my room black, and then go sit in it and sulk until sunset, whilst secretly hoping all the really great zingers have been saved up for later in the game.

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115 Comments »

  1. Rick says:

    At the risk of fulfilling the prophecy at the end of the first paragraph, you peeps and your other PC Gamer UK collegues never seemed to like anything Telltale ever did anyway (despite it consisting of the same people who designed and wrote most of the LucasArts adventures), I wasn’t expecting that attitude to change now.

  2. pkt-zer0 says:

    Don’t care. When’s the remake coming?

  3. Alec Meer says:

    That’s not true at all, Rick – John loves the Strongbad games, and I quite enjoyed the Wallace & Gromit ones (though admittedly I’ve only played the first one so far).

  4. Sunjumper says:

    I just watched the video and… wow.

    That was tragic.

    Apart from it looking worse than the 2D Monkey Islands it was also as mentioned above painfully unfunny. I had to force myself not to stop the video half way through.

  5. Dzamir says:

    I’m going to preorder :D

  6. Flappybat says:

    This doesn’t look very good to me even though I own all the episodes for the other series Telltale has done.

    Perhaps it’s just the memories of the 3D MI games *shudder*

  7. HidesHisEyes says:

    And not one of those wet bones!

    ffs.

  8. jalf says:

    Eh, did MI2′s intro crack you up?

    I think people might have gone into nostalgia-mode a bit about how awesomely funny the original games were. Yes, they were funny, but not all the time. I wasn’t rolling on the floor laughing while watching Guybrush talked to those people round the fire in MI2′s intro. I managed to keep a straight face while picking up bananas on Monkey Island in MI1 as well. MI has always been a story first and foremost, with a handful jokes spread throughout it. Not a constant laugh-a-ton.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFPFFZs5m_w for reference.

    I think this looks ok. I assume it’ll have some funny sequences later on in the game.

  9. MrBejeebus says:

    I did the opposite of laughing when I watched the video, what would you call it? Un-laughing?

    Ah well…

  10. Mike says:

    The point is, jalf, if you’re going to try and bring something back from that long ago, you’d probably try and hit hard in the opener, no?

    Playing Ben There, Dan That for the first time today, it does strike me how good 2D can still be for a game. Shame. The music still does it for me, though, so I’ll probably reinstall the old ones.

  11. cheeba says:

    What gets me is how utterly charmless the new Guybrush character design is. Really, really poor, while somehow managing to make everything he says seem a good 50% more annoying.

  12. lumpi says:

    I admit I loved the Sam & Max episodes. And wow, you guys made me use the word “admit” while I actually don’t find anything shameful about liking them…

    But Monkey Island might actually be a tad too epic for their “Episodes are to Full Games what TV is to Movies” style of making games. And wtf was that “wet funny bone” line? Do they have Seth McFarlane on their writing team?

  13. phat_chopps says:

    Oh. Well, that seems like a Telltale remake of a classic Lucasarts adventure. And that’s all I have to say on it really. Praise the Lord that they’re remaking the original.

    @ Jalf: Is this the intro though? They show dialogue options and the inventory – I got the impression this was game footage.
    Also @ Jalf: True, my nostalgia mode may be kicking in, but that didn’t even feel like a Monkey Island game, regardless of humour. And that would be the biggest crime in my eyes.

  14. lumpi says:

    PS: @jalf: You might be on to something there.

    Oh my, it doesn’t look “abysmal” (or whatever kind of vocabulary you game journalists like to use nowadays) at all. Might get funnier 5 minutes in.

  15. Taillefer says:

    The conversation with Elaine, asking if she’s hungry, etc… That almost had something. But it still ended rather pirate limply.

    MI wasn’t always funny no. But it was when it wanted to be. That’s the difference.

  16. Dan says:

    I didn’t mind the new Sam and Max games, and loved the old Monkey Islands (even Escape!) but this one doesn’t do a thing for me.
    Looks like they went ahead with the Keyboard and Mouse control combo as well, which is something I was really hoping they wouldn’t do.

    In response to Jalf, MI2′s intro wasn’t side splittingly funny, but it wasn’t painfully unfunny either.

    Guess I’ll have to give this a miss. I might pick up the remake of the original though.

  17. Tworak says:

    Yikes, is it capped at 12.53 fps or something? :(

    I’ll probably pick it up eventually.

  18. Smurfy says:

    I just watched a clip of old Monkey Island and didn’t even grin. I find the new stuff more amusing.

  19. jalf says:

    The point is, jalf, if you’re going to try and bring something back from that long ago, you’d probably try and hit hard in the opener, no?

    True, but calling it “tragic” seems a bit of an overreaction.

  20. tiktaalik says:

    The Guybrush design is terrible. Makes me want to punch him in the face. Grr.

  21. Adewade says:

    Well, I, for one, was chuckling the entire way through.

    Seems right up me plank!

  22. Optimaximal says:

    I’m looking forward too this, although Telltale have to make up for the less than adequate W&G games.

    It is a very infinitesimally small portion of gameplay… In fact, I wouldn’t call it gameplay at all (if any of the previews are telling the truth, the fact LeChuck is alive (heh) tells me its either the tutorial or the gentle first chapter, just like Curse of Monkey Islands fun but ultimately pointless first act!
    Also, why are the characters nearly quarter of the size of the ships?

  23. Sartoris says:

    I wish everybody would just go “Bwuh!” and snap out of this 3D-in-adventures fad. It’s ugly, the textures are stretched and blurry and it’s blocky. Sure, it worked in Grim Fandango because it was a frickin’ work of genius. This isn’t. Put some effort in it, give me hand-drawn pictures, and I’ll be happy. Now, developers! *stomps foot*

  24. Dorimant says:

    I was looking for jokes to not laugh at. but I’m not sure if I could see any. Nonsensical fan service, yep, not so much with the jokes though.

  25. abigbat says:

    It was alright; I think I’ll play it simply to see where the story goes.

  26. Psychopomp says:

    I’m with Sartoris

  27. Guto says:

    I loved it, but I’m a big Telltale fanboy (played all of their games and can’t remember a single one that I haven’t liked) and even bigger MI fanboy, so my opinion might be a little biased =). Anyway, I already preordered it and can’t wait to play.

  28. Anon says:

    I found the bit with the conversation options somewhat amusing, but I agree that it failed in general.

  29. Heliocentric says:

    I’d like to buy the old games. I mean, selling a sequel without selling the original? I’ve not played them beyond the demo’s because they are out of print and not on digital dist. And as i’m not pirating them, i can’t play them. So, i won’t be buying the sequel.

  30. Nick says:

    “I just watched a clip of old Monkey Island and didn’t even grin”

    Well, that’s totally the same as playing it.

  31. Bhazor says:

    Well it made me smile so I can’t honestly criticize it. These are all about story so a 3 minute clip is not enough to pass judgment though it sounds like they’ve got a pretty good cast. Colour me hopeful.

    BUT!!!
    They’ve made Elaine Marley less sexy. Boo!

    Still would though.

  32. EyeMessiah says:

    Did you laugh at “The Thick Of It” more recently Alec?

  33. Pessimal says:

    I still regret buying Sam&Max Season 1. What a disappointment that was, not one funny line or gag in sight.

  34. Xercies says:

    I only laughed at one thing in this trailer, Monkey Island wasn’t totally funny but it was funnier then this. And whoever made the dry bone joke needs to be shot.

    But I can’t stop myself preordering this, its like there selling it based on the Monkey Island Name. I hate companies sometimes.

  35. Xercies says:

    Oh and Lechuck looks horrible, why can’t they go back to 2D. Not everything has to be in 3D.

  36. Abi79 says:

    I think what I dislike about Telltale’s games are the voice actors. Just like in Sam & Max, they don’t seem engaged. They’re getting the … accent right, but there’s no energy in their acting.

  37. Wulf says:

    As bizarre as it is I actually found the Strongbad entries to be the least amusing of the lot, because they relied far too much on American idiot-humour (Newgrounds material), which is just as piss poor as British idiot-humour (Clone and similar sitcoms).

    I feel that my intelligence is frequently insulted by that kind of humour, and it often revels in poor taste. I find myself unable to enjoy that, especially when even a Saturday morning cartoon can put together a more intelligent, well-considered, and better researched joke. Which is kind of sad, really.

    I feel that this Monkey Island game reminds me of recent Disney/Pixar offerings, and those I loved too, but I’m more than aware that not everyone has the same love for Disney/Pixar that I do… so perhaps if one prefers web flash cartoons over Pixar/Disney movies, then being amused by the Strongbad episodes and not seeing any humour in this trailer makes a lot of sense.

    Whilst some readers might find that concept ludicrous, you’d be surprised at how many people I’ve encountered online actually do prefer online flash cartoons to the aforementioned alternative.

    Sigh …maybe I’m just getting old.

    Still, I dig this, and lines like “Prepare to meet your frosty, carbonated maker!” make me giggle, and I absolutely love the way that the Lechuck voice actor rolls his Yarrrrr-Harrr-Harrrs!

    Not for everyone then, but it’s going to make me happy.

    @Sunjumper

    “[I think it looks] worse than the 2D Monkey Islands [...]”

    Well, that’s your opinion. It’s the first Monkey Island I’ve liked the look of since Lechuck’s Revenge, and I think it looks so much better than the rather shit Curse. And Curse, having an interest in animation, made me twitch at how amateur it all was and how horrible it looked. It was as bad as a low-budget Nickelodeon cartoon.

    The animation that 3D provides for is generally more accessible than 2D, you’ll never see Guybrush looking so dynamic in the first two games — on the contrary he looked very static — whereas this Guybrush is much more active. So to reiterate: One of the boons with 3D is that great animation can be done cheaply, whereas animation with 2D is expensive, this is why the characters were always so static in older 2D adventure games, including Guybrush.

    So, my good man, I respectfully disagree.

    @Sartoris

    TBH, I’d take low-res textures (which seems to be your only complaint, reiterated again) over static characters any day of the week. I frankly wish people would go ‘Bwuh’ (as you so succinctly put it) and snap out of this love affair with 2D. As I really think that 2D looks horrible.

    Compare Ben There, Dan That (since someone mentioned it proves just how good 2D can be) with Monkey Island, BTDT and Time, Gentleman Please proves exactly what I’m saying about static characters. I love those games, don’t get me wrong, but I get tired of staring at the characters in the same poses doing the same things for the entirety of the adventure.

    I feel like I’m sliding cardboard cutouts around, and this is the problem I’ve always had with adventure games, that the characters completely lack any charm because they have no body language, and convey less entusiasm than Gordon Brown.

    With this Guybrush I can at least feel his emotion, which is well conveyed in how he moves and acts, whhich is something that a 2D adventure could never achieve. Even the most beautifully drawn 2D adventure game has never managed to create a character witht he kind of enthusiasm that Guybrush has here, and I wish people could see that.

    I feel I’m getting old, but it seems I’m not at all living in the past.

    @Nick

    No kidding, I’d love to strap some of these 2D fanatics into a chair and force the to watch a replay of Curse of Monkey Island and count just exactly how many times they really laugh out loud at something. I think I’d be delighted at the results, it’s schadenfreude but in this case I believe it’s deserved.

    @EyeMessiah

    Thank you for succinctly summarising what I was trying to get at at the top of this post. And I think that’s a perfect way to end this post, too.

    I haven’t seen a single, rational, reasonable criticism of this game yet, naught but knee-jerk reactions. Personally, I’m looking forward to it!

  38. GLOWi says:

    I played MI3 many times recently with my son. And I found it very funny. Unfortunately I didn’t find anything funny in this clip. But it was just a short clip.
    What troubles me more is that I hate the Guybrush character design.
    What troubles me even more is that I hate Guybrush character design in MI2 remake too.
    I may be used to MI E style too much and I’ll get used to them.

  39. Sinnerman says:

    I’m thinking of trying Escape from Monkey Island again. I didn’t finish it the first time but should I have another go as I remember it being okay if a bit boring the first time?

    This video sort of reminds me of Curse of Monkey Island which had writing that was better than the first two but also lacked some sort of comic personality that the first two had in spades.

  40. LaundroMat says:

    Funny, but I was wondering the exact thing today: “Why are the (recent) Sam & Max games generally perceived as being funny, while I haven’t even smiled at the jokes the game throws at me”?

    Anyway; no pre-order from me for this new MI episode. That trailer has put me right off…

    Incidentally, it’s proof yet again for my theory that the effort required to be funny in a 2D environment without voice acting is infinitesimally smaller than the effort required for the same amount of funniness in a 3D environment with voice acting.

  41. Wulf says:

    Addendum: For example, fully articulated and varied facial expressions created on the moment for the line being delivered rather than a few crappy stock expressions at most for everything.

    Does no one else see these things? Am I the only one not blinded by 2D nostalgia?

    fffff

    2D Guybrush didn’t even look at all alive, at least this one conveys a real sense of character even if some do find him mildly annoying.

    I think it’s this 2D nonsense that irritates me more than anything. Seriously, are all these 2D supporters just taking the piss and I’m not in on the joke? That’s what it feels like.

    We really want to go back to cardboard cut-outs with no body language and next to no facial expressions?

    Really?

    Why?

  42. Sinnerman says:

    @LaundroMat; Your 2D textual post made me laugh more than the trailer so I suspect you may be onto something.

  43. LaundroMat says:

    @Wulf (saying “I haven’t seen a single, rational, reasonable criticism of this game yet, naught but knee-jerk reactions.”)

    Well, there’s only the trailer yet… It’s meant to solicit reactions. Preferably of the knee-jerky type, but more of a pre-ordery kind than the boo-ing and hissing kind we’re witnessing now of course.

  44. LaundroMat says:

    @Wulf: maybe because cardboard cut-outs with no expression allow your imagination to fill in the blanks?

  45. Nick says:

    @Wulf: I think most of the 2D fanatics are thinking about the first two games rather than Curse, although I enjoyed some parts of curse (mainly Murray related, although its been a whilse since I played it).

    Lucast Arts other 2D ‘talkies’ were also (mostly) superb and had beautiful art direction and voice acting.

    I don’t think the 3rd dimension is in any way bad (look at Grim Fandango) but I do find the humour is severly lacking.

    Of course, humour is subjective..

  46. A-Scale says:

    I’m so torn here. I LOVE the Money Island games (though I’ve only played 3 and 4, so I have an entirely different conception of what the series should be than fans of 1 and 2), but I hate Telltale. After they pulled the lame move of forcing you to buy all 5 Strongbad episodes to get the last one I promised to never let them see another penny from me. What’s a boy to do?

  47. Nick says:

    Hell, apparently a lot of people found Dharma and Greg or Will and Grace funny.

  48. Snook says:

    Some of the jokes certainly raised a smile (except for the wet bone one… probably the worst choice of joke to end on), which is pretty much what the originals did for me too.

  49. JKjoker says:

    wow, the art sure is ugly, i think they should have gone with something like the last Prince of Persia

    it does remind me a little of MI3 but less funny and worse voice acting, Guybrush is ok, Elaine kind sucks and Lechuck BLOWS! in MI3 almost everything he said was comedy gold but here i just watched 3 minutes of it and i wanted to shut him up

    also they better have Murray, the amazing demonic talking skull with the old voice actor or im lighting up the torches

  50. kvertiber says:

    If I do not want to spend pirate money on it, can I download it from pirate bay?