[Due to the reviewer coming down with a terrible case of scurvy, our review of Tales of Monkey Island Episode 4 slipped through the cracks and ended up here. We know, Episode 5 is already available; we’ve currently got our dirty hands on it and will have a review up this week, but in the meanwhile, here’s the belated review of Episode 4 -Ed.]
Tales Monkey Island Episode 3 drew to a close with our hero betrayed and captured by Morgan LeFlay; the Marquis De Singe eager to have him in his perfumed clutches once more. But upon their return to Flotsam Island, a mob of peeved pirates accost Guybrush and put him on trial for a number of crimes. Mr Threepwood stands accused of felonious feline frightening, consonant abuse, thigh crime, and nefarious collectible counterfeiting – all thanks to his actions in earlier episodes.
In Episode 4, The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood, it is up to the Mighty Pirate-At-Law to defend himself and clear his name of all charges, reclaim La Esponja not-so-Grande, and finally cure his plunder bunny Elaine and the other afflicted pirates of the Pox of LeChuck. Should he fail, he faces death by keel hauling, hanging, boiling, scaphism (eww), corset, hanging, mauling, and 8-sided dice (painful, but at least it ain’t 4-sided dice). After completing his stint in the obtuse pirate legal system, Guybrush must foil the machinations of The Marquis, who has heinous plans for the pox-infected Elaine.
Episode 4 continues the high level of quality we have come to expect from the series, with the same excellent writing, animation and voice acting. The addition of some new and well thought-out characters adds to the already great list of intriguing personalities, and Guybrush’s interactions with them are as amusing as ever. As usual there are several references to earlier episodes, and combined with the continuing story this provides great cohesion across the series. The majority of the puzzles are challenging yet logical, but there are a few “What the heck?” moments – but what adventure game would be complete without a little obtuse head scratching? Fortunately, the in-game hint system is usually enough to point you in right direction.
Another favourite character from earlier Monkey Island games makes a return – Stan the used ship salesman, complete with his original psychedelic jacket and rapid arm wavery [Is that the technical term? -Ed]. He has given up the pre-owned vessel business in favour of the legal and souvenir trade, and represents the pirate prosecution against Guybrush while purveying tacky (but useful) memorabilia.
While it is a little irksome to be back on Flotsam Island with many of the same locations and faces, there are some truly memorable moments in this episode – an outstanding cutlass fight between Morgan and the pox-enraged Elaine complete with witty banter, Guybrush’s hilarious cross-examination of himself on the witness stand, and his attempt to taste Fugu Jolokia (the world’s hottest chilli) are just some of them.