I don’t think it’s too much to ask for all the installments in a game franchise to be good. And yet so often sequels are disappointing, offering a lackluster lackey to the first game when we want an entertaining heir to the throne. The first episode in Tales of Monkey Island series was great, so I thought it not unreasonable to expect greatness when I started the second episode, Tales of Monkey Island: The Siege of Spinner Cay. Don’t worry, Episode 2 really was great. But to my surprise, as I played I actually realized that The Siege of Spinner Cay is even better than the first episode.
A pleasant surprise, indeed.
There is no overarching reason for it being better, it’s all the little details that come together to create a greater whole. The puzzles were a little more clever, the characters seemed more numerous and entertaining, the settings were prettier and some of the music was better. Even the humor seemed more accessible this time around, and I thought the first episode was hilarious. The Siege of Spinner Cay took the strong foundation built in The Launch of the Screaming Narwhal and continued to build and expand on it, right up to the very end of the episode, which happens to be completely unexpected and yet a totally believable way for a Monkey Island adventure to end.
The Siege of Spinner Cay picks up right were The Launch of the Screaming Narwhal left off, with Guybrush Threepwood at the business end of a sword. I won’t spoil who is holding the sword, but I will say that the resulting opening sequence is fantastic, both in dialogue and execution. After that, the fun continues as Guybrush ventures forth to Spinner Cay and some surrounding islands to meet up with Elaine and LeChuck (who isn’t altogether LeChuck … you’ll see), flirt with some androgynous merfolk (it’s kind of … well, you’ll see) and solve some clever puzzles (and one in particular that … ugh, you’ll see).
Spinner Cay is easily my favorite location in the series so far. Beautiful graphics and some soothing music to accompany them endeared the little cay to me, but all the locations in the game are fun to visit, even deserted islands. One of the biggest reasons The Siege of Spinner Cay felt even better than Launch of the Screaming Narwhal was there were many more places to explore. I felt like I had so much more freedom even though the actual real estate of all the locations added up probably didn’t exceed the size of Flotsam Island, where we were confined for the first episode.
Oh, and speaking of islands to explore, (spoiler warning) make sure you notice one small island way up in the top right corner of the map. I’m embarrassed to admit that I walked and sailed all around the Caribbean for about 3 hours, unable to figure out why I couldn’t complete a puzzle, simply because I didn’t see the tiny island up in the corner. Don’t judge me.
Despite my incompetence, The Siege of Spinner Cay was a fantastic game. If you had the faith to buy the entire season of Tales of Monkey Island before playing it (and I sincerely hope you did), you’ll be justly rewarded for your risk; the Tales of Monkey Island just keep getting better. The Siege of Spinner Cay is intriguing, irreverent, demanding, hilarious, cheeky, and just plain entertaining; and remember, that’s what we all wanted in the first place.
The Gleaming Golden Treasure
Great voice acting
More area to explore, feels less confined
Still has great puzzles
Still has awesome Monkey Island humor
Even more refined and engaging than the first episode
The Crusty Barnacles
Navigation system is still a little wonky
Was I seriously the only person who had trouble finding that little island up in the corner of the map? Okay fine, don’t judge me.
Tales of Monkey Island is a 5-episode series for PC and WiiWare. The series costs $34.95 and episodes will be released monthly.