Game Reviews

Monkey Island Tales 2 HD - The Siege of Spinner Cay

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Monkey Island Tales 2 HD - The Siege of Spinner Cay

It's been six long months since the original Tales of Monkey Island debuted on iPad, and six long 'uns since that painful cliffhanger ending. Way back in December we left off with Elaine and LeChuck getting on like best buds and a mysterious mercenary holding a sword to Guybrush's neck.

Finally, in Tales 2, we'll get some answers. Unlike the self-contained funnies of Sam & Max, Telltale intends for you to play the five tales of Monkey Island in order, and doles out its lengthy narrative over five different apps.

It's certainly more serial than sitcom. But, while it allows for a more cohesive tale with cliffhangers, twists, and turns, a monster cast of characters, and call-back gags, early episodes can feel like the story is treading water.

Holy monkey bladders, it's the Jerkbait Islands!

Case in point: Episode 2, Siege of Spinner Cay is more about planting seeds and building bridges for future episodes than delivering any major plot points itself.

The episode is mostly about Guybrush enhancing his knowledge of La Esponja Grande - a voodoo sea sponge that might cure his pox-ridden mitt down the road - and the episode's new cast members are just nuisance puzzle fodder who won't make major appearances later in the series.

Not that they're without their charm. The ambiguously-gendered mermaid/man Anemone has some great, totally-awkward banter with our hero (enlivened by Guybrush's complete inability to pronounce the Merfolk's name), and piratical villain bloke McGillicutty has more depth than the most of the game's cookie-cutter cast.

Spinner Cay also manages to keep ancient references and Monkey Island in-jokes to a minimum, which helps the overall Tales quintet stand on its own legs, rather than feeling like a tired re-run that slavishly caters to fanatics.

Never spend more than seven bucks on a computer game

This second instalment is shorter than Screaming Narwhal, but still delivers a few hours of head-scratching puzzles, witty dialogue trees, and more items to stuff in your pockets than a Tesco Express. A subtle hint system will also dole out suggestions if you've been stuck for ages.

Sadly, this swashbuckling point-and-click adventure hasn't made it to the iPad entirely unscathed. Even worse than Episode 1, Spinner Cay is plagued with performance issues, painfully long loading times, and a sloppy framerate that often spoils the overall feel of the game.

It's an ongoing problem with Telltale games. At times it can be nearly unplayable, especially on the year-old iPad 1, as speech files stutter, areas cough and choke into existence, and the game is too busy almost-crashing to register input. For the asking price, it's a little insulting.

Turn off your iPad and go to sleep

The dodgy controls remain a problem, too. Telltale uses a virtual joystick that pops onto screen when you press your thumb down, and it falls apart when the camera angle shifts and moves as your roam the Jerkbait Islands.

If Telltale hasn't listened to the mountain of fan and critic feedback on the controls in the last six months, what has is it been doing?

The Siege of Spinner Cay isn't the strongest moment in the Tales collection, and won't provide as many memorable plot points once the storyline is wrapped up, but it manages to dole out some great jokes and a handful of excellent puzzles along the way.

Read our review of Monkey Island Tales 1 HD - Launch of the Screaming Narwhal. [Buy it.]
Read our review of Monkey Island Tales 3 HD - Lair of the Leviathan. [Buy it.]
Read our review of Monkey Island Tales 4 HD - The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood. [Buy it.]
Read our review of Monkey Island Tales 5 HD - The Rise of the Pirate God. [Buy it.]

Monkey Island Tales 2 HD - The Siege of Spinner Cay

Spinner Cay is certainly the weakest instalment in the Tales series, but still holds its own with a good few hours of top jokes and puzzles. Horrible performance issues rear their ugly head too often for a strong recommendation