Monday, July 28, 2014

Humongous Flash Bundle

The Humongous Flash Bundle is on now, with a bunch of Humongous Entertainment games for cheap, with a portion to go to charity. Best of all, if you pay $20 or more, you can get all of the games that have been released on Steam so far (that's 1/5 of the usual price). You'll also get DRM-free versions for Windows, but if you run a different operating system, rest assured that most of the games run on ScummVM, so if you run the Windows versions of the game through ScummVM on the platform of your choice, you'll still be getting the same experience.

The Walking Dead: Season Three Announced

In a move that surprised absolutely no one, Telltale's president Kevin Bruner and the creator of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman, announced The Walking Dead: Season Three at this year's Comic Con. Since Season Two is not even finished yet, nothing was revealed other than the fact that Telltale is working on it. More details will likely come after the current season wraps up.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Journey Down Chapter Two Taking Pre-Orders

Chapter Two of The Journey Down, the adventure game inspired by LucasArts classics such as Grim Fandango, is scheduled to release on August 25th. If you pre-order now, it's only $5.99 and you get The Journey Down Chapter One as well (the key is transferable if you already own Chapter One). Half of all pre-order revenue will go to help the Mavuno girl's school project. Find out more about the pre-order deal and see a couple of scenes from the upcoming chapter in the trailer embedded above.

The Walking Dead Season Two Episode 4 Out Now

The penultimate episode of Telltale's The Walking Dead: Season Two is now out for Windows, Macintosh, XBLA on Xbox 360, PSN on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, and on iOS. The release dates for the Android versions haven't yet been announced.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Wolf Among Us Finale Gets Trailer and Dates

The final episode of Telltale's episodic series based on the Fables comics, The Wolf Among Us, is going to be released next week.  It will be released for PC, Mac, and for PlayStation Network on PlayStation 3 in North America on July 8, on PSN for PS3 in Europe and on Xbox Live Arcade for Xbox 360 worldwide on July 9, and on iOS on July 10th.  Release dates for the Android and PlayStation Vita versions haven't been announced yet.  The trailer is out now as well, which is embedded above.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rise of the Pirate God Review

This review was originally written for Associated Content on February 25, 2010. I can finally post this here as the rights have reverted back to me.

The finale takes the series to much darker places, as it finds Guybrush having to do things he's never done before, in a place he's never been before, but which is very familiar to his arch-enemy LeChuck.

Once again, the three control methods are still the same. There is the direct control method with the keyboard or a joystick, a combination of keyboard for movement and mouse to select items, and a click and drag method where you click Guybrush and drag him to where you want him to go. If you choose this last option, note that it's a little cumbersome, as you have to let go of the mouse button to select an object and then click Guybrush again in order to drag him to where you want him to go. Another thing worth noting in this game is that, whichever method you choose, there's a hitch in the engine where a cinematic camera angle doesn't work the way it should in the game. It is at the point at the ship where you find Morgan, when you go down, the ship will be shown but Guybrush will not. Whichever method you choose, you just have to go down and the camera will fix itself. The click and drag method is more difficult, as you have to search around the screen until you see an arrow like you'd see when you highlight Guybrush. Now, you just have to click the arrow and drag it down until the camera fixes itself.

The music is fittingly moody for this darker installment of the series. Dominic Armato, Alexandra Boyd, and Nikki Rapp do an excellent job once again as Guybrush, Elaine and Morgan respectively. The biggest bonus in this game is that Earl Boen, the voice of LeChuck in the previous Monkey Island games returns as LeChuck here. Although, if you played the first episode, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, on the Macintosh or waited to play it until the PC DVD release, then you would have heard Earl Boen as the zombie pirate LeChuck there too. He is much more menacing as the undead LeChuck than Adam Harrington was in the original version of the first episode. The new character, the dead man at the crossroads who at one point calls himself Galeb, is a fun new character. He is a habitual liar, so you never know if he's telling you the truth. Roger Jackson, the voice of Van Winslow, performs Galeb's voice as well. Speaking of Van Winslow, by this point I really like the character. There is a lot of character development for him in this episode, and Roger Jackson performs his role wonderfully as always. I was also glad to see the return of characters I enjoyed from previous games. Anenome, the merperson from the second episode, is once again given the right amount of vocal androgyny by Sirenetta Lioni. Bugeye, a character from the third episode, is enjoyably sour as ever, as voiced by Andrew Chaikin. The fourth episode is represented by another interesting character, Judge Grindstump, who is given a jolly demeanor with a bit of paranoia by Brian Summer. The returning characters further emphasize just how interesting most of the new characters are in this game, which is a welcome return after somewhat bland new characters in Escape from Monkey Island.

The backgrounds are dark, as they should be. Both the story and the atmosphere are noticeably darker in this game. Even the returning locations from previous games are presented in a darker light, due to the rampage LeChuck went on after he seemingly finally defeated his arch-nemesis for good. Despite the dark tones, there is still a good deal of detail. It still feels like Monkey Island. The camera issue I noticed before is a noticeable hiccup that spoils the experience somewhat. It is notable enough that it has received help issue posts at Telltale's forums. It even took me a while to figure out how to fix the issue, as I had at first thought that I had encountered a game stopping bug, as I'm sure many other people did. Hopefully Telltale fixes the issue for the PC DVD release, as the experience is quite good otherwise.

Although it doesn't reach the heights of the fourth episode, the final episode is a fitting close to a very exciting chapter in the Monkey Island saga. The main characters are excellent as always, the returning side characters are chosen wisely. They are all among the most interesting new characters of the season. The camera issue hurt the experience a little, but as long as you know how to fix the issue, it's not too big of a deal. I don't want to spoil the final puzzle, but I will say that while it is a well designed puzzle, it is exactly the same type of puzzle that occurs at the end of the first three Monkey Island games. It's not a deal breaker by any means, as it ends the game well, but I would have liked to have seen a final confrontation that was laid out less by-the-book in a season that otherwise did things differently from its predecessors.

Final Verdict:

4½ out of 5

The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Review

This review was originally written for Associated Content on February 24, 2010. I can finally post this here as the rights have reverted back to me.

In this game, the plot thickens, as is evidenced by the name of the episode. Guybrush finds himself having to go to court for his crimes, and a voodoo subpoena keeps him from fleeing the island, similar to the voodoo anklet in Escape from Monkey Island. Things are not as straightforward as they seem though, as the trial is only part of the story. The storyline here is the highlight of the season so far.

At this point, if you've been playing the series since the beginning, which ever method you chose should be second nature. But if this is your first time experiencing the Tales of Monkey Island, there are three control methods to choose from. The first control method is direct control with a keyboard or a joystick, and the second is a combination of a keyboard for movement and a mouse for selecting objects. The third option is a little more cumbersome, it's known as the click and drag method. With it you click on Guybrush and drag him to where you wish to go, and then let go of him to select an object to interact with. Then when you want to move Guybrush, you have to click and drag him again.

Enough good things can't be said about Michael Land's soundtrack in every Monkey Island game. It continues to shine here, and although it's synthesized instead of using live instruments, it fits the mood of the game perfectly. The recurring cast members continue to do a terrific job, and Kevin Blankton once again turns in a terrific performance as the human form of LeChuck. We get to see some returning characters, such as D'Oro, the pirate collecting pirate from the first game. I didn't find him that interesting in the first game, and unfortunately not much has changed here.

The new characters are a bit of the mixed bag. The judge and bartender of Club 41, Wallace Grindstump, is interesting, but the new female character, Bosun Krebs, is not. On the other hand, Nikki Rapp turns in an excellent performance in this game, as her character's current emotional state shows in her voice. Alexandra Boyd's performance of Elaine inflicted with the pox of LeChuck is hilarious, and the scene where the two women in Guybrush's life finally meet is great. The human LeChuck is an interesting character as always, and Alison Ewing performs her role as the Voodoo Lady with such conviction it's as if she's been doing the role throughout all the games. As in the last game, there is one popular character that makes a return here. Unlike the previous character, his appearance here is more of the same, but for fans of the character that shouldn't be a problem. One positive note is that his voice actor puts in the best voice performance of the character in the series so far. Additionally, Telltale seems to have ironed out the problems affecting the second episode completely by this point. The similarities of the character models can no longer be seen, and Telltale kept the returning characters who were a bit too generic, so even they blend in here.

The fourth episode is the best episode of the season so far, despite a few boring characters. The new character of Wallace Grindstump is entertaining, and the returning character from previous game is on character, even if there's nothing new for him in this game. The main cast of Tales of Monkey Island perform their roles wonderfully as always, with Alexandra Boyd as the poxed Elaine a clear standout. It's the storyline of this game that puts it heads and heels above the others. It will leave both Guybrush and the player re-evaluating the relationships between the recurring characters in the series.

Final Verdict:

4½ out of 5