Tales of Monkey Island Sees Sense

By Alec Meer on August 25th, 2009 at 1:38 am.

There was a bit of a kerfuffle a while back over Telltale’s Monkey Islands not being entirely treated as episodes. In that you could only buy them as a job lot, despite the staggered release dates. Like, duh. American internet-folk will be glad to hear they no longer need to invest in five episodes up-front if they’re not entirely sure whether the series is for them, as Amazon is selling these bite-sized retromanced adventure games individually. $8.95 each, which as far as I can tell is in keeping with what Steam and Telltale’s e-store charge for single Sam & Max, Strongbad et al instalments. Hopefully this breaking up of Guybrush’s bulk will spread to other services and continents soon.

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24 Comments »

  1. The_B says:

    I am disappointed that RPS seems to be above such puns as ‘Tales of Monkey Island Seas Sense’

    :(

  2. MunnyFan says:

    Still I think they could do with a LITTLE less money-grabbing.

  3. A-Scale says:

    That’s not good enough to bring me back to Telltale. Firstly they are not embracing the episodic purchasing themselves, but rather just permitting Amazon to do so. That can’t make up for how Telltale burned me with the Strongbad series on this very problem.

  4. Wulf says:

    @A-Scale

    I see your firstly, but where’s your secondly?

    You can’t have a firstly without a secondly, it’s just not right! After all, one may forego a thirdly if they at least have a secondly, but a secondly is a prerequisite to the use of a firstly!

    And providing Telltale themselves are pointing out that the game is available on a per-episode basis from Amazon, I really don’t see the problem unless the problem lies within the rather pointless realm of semantics.

  5. The_B says:

    Telltale have pointed out yes.

    On a slightly related note – having reviewed both episodes for various places I will say that MI is so far shaping up to be the best of Telltale’s games by far, so it does have that going for it. It’s genuinely funny, the second episode even moreso than the first, and has some rather nice little touches. Very enjoyable.

  6. SmokinDan says:

    @ A-scale:

    How so? Telltale eventually made the Strongbad series available for a discounted price if you’d bought one episode. That’s what I did after buying the secone episode.

  7. Stromko says:

    I got hung up on the very first puzzle. “That rope is holding the barrel in place.” Yes, I know that Guybrush, why don’t you just cut the rope.

    Took me about two hours of skipping around the deck before I noticed the small item in the environment that I hadn’t even noticed before and that allowed for the puzzle to be completed. I’m not sure if a Hint would’ve bailed me out, I’d finally given in and turned Hints to full just a few minutes before I noticed the solution on my own.

    Knowing the solution pretty much immediately but not being able to figure out how to get to the solution, really started me off on the wrong foot. I don’t know if I’ll even try to finish that episode now, the charm of these Telltale adventures has really begun to wear off. Seems like instead of adding more interesting characters and funny dialogue, I end up spending hours on each adventure just by mindlessly and repetitively trying to solve incredibly unintuitive puzzles.

  8. pilouuuu says:

    Completely recommended. What is so good about this is that it is a genuine new adventure of Monkey Island, but with new characters, places and situations. Obviously there are some references to previous games, but it is pretty much a new adventure and not the self parody that was Escape From Monkey Island.

    Telltale are great developers and the only to have made a good and successful episodic gaming system. We can’t call Half-Life 2 episodic, can we?

    And this is the most fun and advanced game they’ve made so far, just losing to Sam & Max because it has less episodes.

    Everyone should give this a try. And to MI SE too, so Lucasarts realises that there is still a market for adventure games.

  9. Vinraith says:

    I gather I’m in the minority, but I REALLY preferred the art style of MI 4. This looks so… angular and cold, I guess. It doesn’t suit the material.

    That said, it’s nice to have the option to buy individual episodes, it really should have been there from the start. For someone like me, that’s very unsure about the new series, it allows us to take a chance for a low price. At $35 I was just going to ignore the new games, but for $9 I might be willing to give one a shot.

  10. Merus says:

    Stromko, I think it’s definitely a case of one’s mileage varying, as I worked out pretty much straight away that I couldn’t reach that rope while I was in the middle of a swordfight. I found the entire puzzle very satisfying.

    Actually, there’s a lot of satisfying things about the second episode. LeChuck had me giggling for a solid minute, as did Elaine using Guybrush’s standard negotiation technique on him until he gives in. In both cases, the dialogue choices really worked to sell the joke.

    I noticed that Telltale also made some welcome interface improvements – you can leave the inventory by clicking back on the game world, and Guybrush can run if you hold down Shift.

  11. Lars Westergren says:

    @Stromko
    That is always the problem with adventure games, there is a very thin line between challenging and fun, and obtuse and frustrating.

    I’m not saying you are bad at adventure games here by the way, two people can get really stuck at two different puzzles in the game and breeze through the rest.

    That said, I solved and liked the first puzzle, and I LOVE the new episodes! I think the puzzles are better (less frustrating and obtuse ;-) than in the first two games, and for the first time since Psychonauts I’ve had some laugh out loud moments in games.

    Only things I would like to see changed are – less reuse of characters. Tall skinny pirate model and short, husky pirate model got used at least three times each in the first game, just with different clothes and skin tones.

    Also, the first games had a little bit of black humor and grit in them occasionally, like the graveyard in the second game. Here things are always cartoony and bright.

  12. Mike says:

    Um. But… Amazon doesn’t let you redownload the game, does it? Steam plz? :(

  13. Andrew Dunn says:

    Enjoyable but the merfolk left a really sour taste.

    It’s like if del Toro’s new Hobbit film had xenomorphs in it.

  14. Saul says:

    I find the puzzles very intuitive. Certainly more than the vast majority of adventures I’ve ever played. I’ve barely been stuck at all. The art style is just right, and the humour is very MI– not hilarious, but chuckle-worthy and sweet.

  15. SanguineAngel says:

    I have to agree pretty strongly with Vinraith. I find the graphics to be a real detriment. Cold and clinical and souless. This is, of course, a personal opinion so please don’t take offence if you disagree. I just can’t help but feel the colours, the atmosphere et al. was a lot more engaging in 1 & 2 and even 3. sure, it may be pixelated now, but MI SE has done a good job in the art department I think. It’s retained the warm character.

    On to the puzzle aspects. I’ve not played much of Ep2 yet but I have played a little. I am preferring it to Ep 1 so far. the puzzles are very intuitive if you ask me. I’ve not been stumped by any of them yet. But I do not think that is a good thing. The point of a puzzle is to challenge you to figure it out. that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t make sense. Just that they should be more of a challenge. I think perhaps that the situations they make into puzzles are all a bit obvious themselves, so the solutions can’t help but be obvious if they’re going to make sense.

    AAANNNNYYYWAY, I do on the whole like the new Tales. I think they’re worth the purchase. Although I STILL don’t understand why they haven’t been available seperately straight from the beginning.

  16. Ginger Yellow says:

    I quite like the story dialogue and the puzzles – they’re a little bit more difficult than previous Telltale games without being too obscure – but I’m finding it really hard to go back to generic interaction writing after the Zombie Cow games. It makes a world of difference when you actually want to try out every possible interaction just to hear what the characters have to say. To be fair, the original Monkey Island games weren’t very good on this front either, but it really stands out in these episodes.

  17. jalf says:

    @Vinraith: I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Preferring MI4 is not allowed here. ;)

    Anyway, seriously? You think *this* is better this?

    ToMI’s graphics are more “angular and cold” than this?

    I could sort of understand if you’d said you preferred the graphics of MI3, or even 2 or 1. But 4?!

    No, you are wrong. :p

    And A-Scale, geez, way to carry a grudge… :p

    Anyway, what do you mean, “they are not embracing the episodic purchasing themselves, but rather just permitting Amazon to do so”? I don’t really see the difference. Does it matter whether they say “Come to telltalegames.com and buy individual episodes”, or “we’ve hooked Amazon up with individual episodes, go for it if you want them”?

    Sounds to me like you just want something to be angry about. They’ve 1) made a good game, 2) made you a good deal for buying the entire season, and 3) made individual episodes available for purchase. I think that would satisfy most people.

    Btw, I found the puzzles in ep2 much much harder than in ep1. The first ep really impressed med with how intuitive and fun the puzzles were. I felt like ep2 relied much more on absurdities that no one would’ve ever guessed. But perhaps I was just lucky and did everything in the right order in ep1 to make all the hints fall into place.

  18. Andrew Dunn says:

    I agree with jalf – I found Episode 2′s puzzles much more obtuse than Episode 1′s, and they relied on a lot of backtracking slowly with the enforced waits between area transitions to revisit places you’d already been to that had now changed very slightly.

  19. SanguineAngel says:

    I am afraid I’m not with Jalf on that one. I would prefer a slightly obtuse puzzle that I have to think about for 20 mins to an entire “game” of immediately intuitive puzzles. Really, if the solution to a puzzle is as obvious as most of those in Ep1, then it’s not a puzzle game, it’s just a series of things you know you have to do before finding out the next bit of plot. (sorry, again this is just my point of view.)

    The problem is of course that one man’s obvious puzzle is another man’s obtuse puzzle… or something like that. That’s why I really like the idea of TT’s scalable hint system. The idea is a great way of catering to all sorts. The problem I do have is that most of the time i think their previous puzzles have not needed the hint system at all.

    Also, Jalf, just to leap to Vinraith’s defence again. I think that’s a pretty poor screen cap from MI 4. It’s actually a pretty styalised art direction they took. A quick google search will yield some nicer results. Having said that, the graphics were not as advanced as these eps. But the art style is not really all that different. I would still say though that there is a tad more warmth in 4. Still nothing compared to 1, 2 & 3 for my tastes. 2 & 3 in particular seemed to give the games a lot more of a lively bustling lived in feel. Whereas these eps are very desolate to me.

    @ Andrew Dunn: I am worried about what you say, back tracking is one of those things that is rarely necessary from a design perspective and even less likely to be fun. I hope that’s not a trend that continues into the next eps.

  20. Dean says:

    I do think Telltale should have stuck with not selling episodes individually, as it is one self contained story. Most people just don’t want to base the decision to spend that much cash on a short demo.

    The obvious solution would have been to launch last month with giving the first episode away for free. An extended demo. It’d pulled in even more publicity and increased sales no end.

  21. Masked Dave says:

    I’m loving them. Telltale finally done good.

  22. tmp says:

    “This is the main mast.”
    “I know, shut up about the mast already!”

    a hillarious episode. It also felt very solid and clear as far as the ‘comic logic’ puzzles go, the only bit that made me stumped for a while was getting to the treasure chest unnoticed and even that solution made total sense afterwards.

  23. jalf says:

    I am afraid I’m not with Jalf on that one. I would prefer a slightly obtuse puzzle that I have to think about for 20 mins to an entire “game” of immediately intuitive puzzles.

    I didn’t say *immediately* intuitive puzzles. I meant puzzles that made sense, that, if you got the right idea, were obvious. Basically puzzles where thinking actually pays off, rather than ones where the only approach is “use Everything on Everything Else”.

    Several of the puzzles in Ep1 had me stumped for a while, but never in the “oh fuck this, I’ll look it up in a walkthrough” kind of way. I always had vague ideas for things to try or places to go.

    On the other hand, Ep2 left me completely baffled on several occasions. Not just in the “hmm, I’ll take 10 minutes to look this over and come up with a solution” way, but “jeez, I’ve tried everything, what the hell do they expect me to do?” kind of way.

    But like you said, one man’s obvious puzzle…. It’s obviously very subjective. Perhaps I just wasn’t thinking right when I played ep2.
    I think I got very lucky with Ep1 in that I accidentally followed just the right trail, and always, by random chance, did just the right thing to reveal a clue for the next puzzle. (A friend of mine was completely stuck on the flowerpot/nose thing for ages. I’d examined it earlier, by chance, and so Guybrush had turned it upside down and remarked that it looked like a nose. Obvious for me, but if you hadn’t looked at that *completely unrelated* item previously, you wouldn’t have had a clue what to do)

    About the art style, I still think ToMI captures the spirit of MI2 and 3 fairly well, and much better than 4 did. But again, subjective of course. :)

    @tmp: Yeah, the mast thing cracked me up :D

  24. Stu says:

    Eps 1 and 2 are each available at Reflexive for $8.95 + tax, which brings the price up to $10.29 = ~£6.29 for those of us in the UK.

    (I assume you can buy the games in the UK, anyway; you can certainly select “United Kingdom” from the country drop-down box which updates the tax value, but I haven’t taken the additional step of entering my credit card details to see if purchasing actually works.)