By Marty Mulrooney
Tales Of Monkey Island was released to critical acclaim last year on PC, followed by ports on both Wii and PS3. I immediately noticed that there was a surprising lack of concrete detail about the quality of the console ports available online. Therefore, when I finally finished the game recently on all three platforms, I decided to share my thoughts with AMO’s readers. This review will be less a review of the game itself (which comprises five chapters, each of which is fantastic) and instead offer a write-up on the different versions available and their various strengths/weaknesses.
The storyline and basic content of each game, regardless of platform, is the same, so for individual write-ups of each chapter the PC reviews are available here for your reading pleasure:
The PC version of TOMI is undoubtedly the best version to get if you have a decent PC. The point-and-click controls feel perfect with a mouse and, again provided that you have a decent PC, performance is fantastic with super fast load times.
If you buy the game directly from Telltale you can even get a spiffy DVD with all the games on for free too!
Another alternative is to buy the Tales of Monkey Island Deluxe Edition (which is even cheaper if you have already bought the whole series digitally). The included DVD slipcover is beautiful, although the cut-out figures on the back seem kind of stupid… is anybody actually going to cut up their case?! The drinks coaster is just thin cardboard, but the piece of eight is superb and the included Voodoo card isn’t available anywhere else, even in the separately sold Voodoo Card set. The map is cool but has an odd white border… it doesn’t surprise me that many fans have customised their map to counteract this oversight! The badge is fun and the overall box is a great keepsake. The DVD comes with all the usual special features too. Remember, the PC version of TOMI is the only one you can own on physical disk!
The Wii version of TOMI released with each chapter about a month behind the PC version. Sadly, WiiWare has a size limit of around 40MB. To put that in to perspective, the same chapters on PC are usually around 200MB. the result? Severe compression that has a number of consequences:
The colours are quite dull and muted on the Wii. I flicked my TV between the PS3 version in HD and the Wii version via component cable, and the results were pretty disappointing. It isn’t just the difference in resolution either: the Wii version is consistently murky and dark. Brown wood on PC and PS3 can often look green on Wii. Not good!
Textures also suffer badly. A good place to notice this is during the beginning of The Siege Of Spinner Cay, which I ran alongside the PC version. The detail on the ship’s flag is a simple flat texture on Wii, whereas on the PC version, even on the lower settings, detail is far more visible, with patches and stitching on the sails.
Again, this can be seen at the beginning of the chapters when the Voodoo lady lays down her cards. Crisp and vivid on PC/PS3? Not on Wii…
The upside to all of this is that the lower resolution and textures actually hide some blemishes! Texture seams were less evident in the earlier chapters on Wii than I recalled on PC…
Sadly, the sound is pretty low quality too, and the music sounds very midi.
The game often chugs or pauses awkwardly, presumably to uncompress some more data. Load times are lengthened accordingly.
All of this makes it readily apparent that the WiiWare version of TOMI is an inferior port. So what are the good points?
The controls work well. Although the game itself may struggle, the cursor always floats smoothly on screen and this is perhaps the best control scheme after the mouse on PC. In fact, I loved using the Nunchuck to move Guybrush around, which felt a lot easier than using the keyboard.
Some gamers may only have access to a Wii… and this will let them play one of the best adventure games in years. The core mechanics/story are still there and although this port has problems, many players have exaggerated them. I still feel that this port is playable… but only as a last resort. Although the chapters certainly do look pretty on the Wii’s dashboard…
The final problem is price. At 1000 Wii points each, this is the most expensive – as well as most disappointing – way to experience TOMI.
PlayStation 3 Version
The PlayStation 3 version (on PSN) of TOMI on the other hand is everything a console port should be. I ran the entire thing at 1080p without a hitch.
The graphics of the PSN version seem comparable to the PC version on the highest graphics settings. Textures are sharp and the sound quality is great. If you have a PS3 and your PC isn’t very powerful, this would definitely be the best choice for you.
The controls work really well for a console adventure game. It is a similar control scheme to using a controller with the PC version of Telltale’s latest Sam & Max season. The left analogue stick moves Guybrush and holding Circle at the same time will make him run. Interacting is done with a click of the X button, and pressing L1/R1 will scroll through all available nearby hotspots. The right analogue stick can be used to search for hotspots further afield and the Triangle button brings up a console-friendly inventory. It all works very well and is a solid compromise for the lack of mouse controls. Hopefully a PlayStation Move patch will be issued soon though…
The only problem I had with the PSN version of TOMI is that hotspots all have a little red icon over them when you are nearby. This can break the mood a little and red really stands out too, especially in the final chapter where everything is generally a shade of blue.
You can only buy the entire season but the price is fantastic: £13.99/$20! That is a seriously good deal and would be a great choice for people who can’t run the game on PC/don’t care about getting a physical copy.
Overall, the PC version remains the best version, with the PlayStation 3 offering a great alternative way to play. Perhaps your console is hooked up to a huge TV and great speakers, in which case you will have a blast. The Wii version is obviously the weakest port, but I still wouldn’t dismiss it if you have no other way to play. This remains a great game no matter which version you choose!
Finally, you can read Guybrush Threepwood voice actor Dominic Armato’s thoughts on each game via the following links. Thanks for reading!