|System: Wii (WiiWare), PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Telltale Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Telltale Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 20, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Unlike some purveyors of games hailing from antiquated, niche video game genres, Telltale Games has a certain knack for making the old feel new - not to mention the uncanny ability to craft adventure games that actually make you want to keep playing past the first hour. The fact each episodic game only lasts a few hours from start to finish certainly plays well with those of us possessing shortened attention spans. The second chapter installment of the new Tales of Monkey Island is similarly concise, but it's every bit as clever as you'd expect and riddled with some truly memorable and funny moments.
In his return debut, the "mighty pirate" Guybrush Threepwood managed to scuttle his own ship, infect his hand with demonic voodoo magic, get stranded on a turbulently windy island, misplace his swashbuckling wife Elaine, and inadvertently unleash a zombifying plague across the entire Caribbean. Not a bad way to make an entrance. After managing to salvage the situation as best as possible, we last left off with Guybrush watching Elaine sail away with his long-time nemesis, the newly un-cursed pirate LeChuck. His inability to pursue his mysteriously departing spouse stems from a sword being suddenly thrust in his face by an unexpected visitor, which is where we pick back up again.
Chapter Two: The Siege of Spinner Cay wastes little time in diving back into the action. Things kick off with a wild swordfight against Guybrush's ship-bound intruder that sends him flailing his way around the entire vessel. Before long, he winds up on a nearby island cove populated by androgynous Mer-People and gets sucked into an island-hopping quest for strange golden artifacts needed to locate the elusive voodoo-sucking sponge. However, an unruly gaggle of pox-afflicted pirates don't make the situation any easier; neither does being forced to team up with LeChuck, who may be secretly attempting to woo Elaine. She also seems to have taken on some peculiar new behaviors. Not surprisingly, the adventure continues full-throttle with heaping spoonfuls of the trademark ridiculousness befitting a Monkey Island title.
Despite being stuck on Flotsam Island for most of the first chapter, there was plenty to keep busy with while amongst the locals. There are a lot of leads to follow, random oddities to hunt down, and unusual folks to "help" in chapter two, but it's nice to no longer be confined to a single island. You'll have numerous opportunities to sail about the surrounding region throughout the adventure in chapter two, even if most islands you get to visit only amount to very minor pit stops along the way to and from the chapter's two main settings. Several action-oriented scenes keep the momentum of the adventure lively and there's not much down time in between the game's interesting spots.
The puzzles feel a little more balanced this time around. You won't have to deal with many overly obtuse tasks, since contextual clues can be picked up easily from nearby characters and your surroundings. That doesn't mean the nature of the challenges is any less off-the-wall. Whether it's gathering slimy, "freshly made" fish eggs from the Mer-lady you've been flirting with in order to coax a cranky metal fish out from hiding or assembling a DIY barbecue grill to craft a master forgery using an old friend, the means of searching out the answers to your problems never gets dull. Fetch quests and basic hotspot-sensitive item usage are still the status quo, though being an adventuring errand boy with a hook for a hand isn't all bad.
As before, the game continues to excel in the presentation department. Character voice work is spot-on, fluid, and often quite funny. The quirky dialogue and subtle strangeness woven into the conversations you'll have with characters certainly stands out from other adventure games and is among some of the best found in Telltale's lineup. The main new setting, Spinner Cay, serves as the happening hub of the adventure, and there's a solid amount of stuff to do there. A nice change of scenery here is countered slightly by the largely bare and drab smaller islands you'll visit. The only other larger island to explore looks and feels almost identical to the maze-like jungle of chapter one, so it's a bit of a wash in terms of interesting new ground to cover. Otherwise, the characters and visuals in the game are expertly done.