Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
System requirements: Windows XP/Vista; 2.0 GHz CPU; 512 MB RAM; 64 MB DirectX 8.1-compatible video card; DirectX 8.1-compatible sound card; DirectX 9.0c or higher
Release date: Available now
The plot thickens (or, more accurately, lengthens) as legendary LucasArts adventure hero Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Pirate continues his quest to find his Elaine and cure the voodoo pirate pox he unleashed by plunging a defective enchanted sword into the chest of the evil pirate LeChuck. Tales of Monkey Island Episode 2: The Siege of Spinner Cay picks up right where the first installment, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, left off. And it brings with it a wider variety of puzzles, more places to explore, and the sharp comedy script that has become synonymous with developer Telltale’s episodic adventure games.
The story so far: Threepwood and his first mate, Mr. Winslow, have escaped from Flotsam Island after foiling the plans of the evil French surgeon LeSinge, who was using an ancient island idol to keep the ocean winds blowing inward, thus grounding all sailing vessels. But what LeSinge really wants is Threepwood’s pox-infected hand, which he plans to study to use in another nefarious scheme. So he hires spunky pirate bounty hunter Morgan LeFlay to hunt down Threepwood, separate him from his hand and bring it back to her employer. As Episode 2 opens, LeFlay is engaged in a furious swashbuckling sword battle with our hero, trading barbs and parries with equal aplomb.
Following the battle, Threepwood and Winslow continue on to Spinner Cay, a small group of islands nearby to Flotsam Island. Shortly after arrival, he finds Elaine in the company of a seriously poxy pirate named McGillicutty, who’s trying to convince the leader of the indigenous Merfolk to hand over three magic artifacts. When combined and enchanted with a secret phrase, these objects can raise three mystical sea creatures to lead the owner of the artifacts to the resting place of Esponja Grande, the giant sea sponge that can cure the pirate pox. But these artifacts have been separated and hidden in various places on the cay’s largest body of land, Spoon Island. Threepwood must find the objects before McGillicutty and his two dim-witted henchmen do. And in the process, he receives some unexpected assistance…
Telltale has shaken off the cobwebs from Narwhal and taken a big step forward with Spinner Cay. The story takes you to a wider variety of places (you won’t spend most of the game getting lost in the jungle, as you did in Episode 1) and gives you more interesting things to do. Most of the puzzle solutions are a little less off-the-wall, although those of you who are note-takers will have an easier time with several of them near the end of the game. There are fewer red herrings than in the first installment, which had several places on the island map that you never visit during play. And the trademark Telltale wit is fully infused in the very funny script, brought to life by some excellent voice talent.
There are a few bits of sloppiness to report, however. There are far too many typos in the subtitles, with certain words misspelled almost every time they are used. At one point I handed an object to another character as part of a puzzle solution and walked away, only to find the item suspended in mid-air later on with the recipient nowhere to be found. One mildly important character disappears for no explainable reason, never to be seen again. And the game allows you to waste time visiting a tiny island that contains nothing to collect and has no bearing on your quest.
The Siege of Spinner Cay is the game that Launch of the Screaming Narwhal should’ve been. The puzzles are less confounding, the story is more interesting and the graphics show you something other than seemingly endless jungle paths. The serial nature of the overarching story is also a nice change from the stand-alone episodes in Telltale’s other series, allowing the writers to craft much more effective endings (you’ll never see this one coming). If the upcoming installments can continue this trend, this series could become an even more worthy descendant to the groundbreaking LucasArts collection from which it springs.