App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Guybrush Threepwood and Co. take to the high seas yet again for the second of five episodes in Telltale's latest Monkey Island game. Granted, this is actually a port of a port of a game that's about 2 years old at this point. So it's not "new" per-se, but it is new to the iPhone. And seeing as the original adventure was a fun-if-flawed game that did the license and the fans proud, that's kind of awesome.
Being a port of a port, there's very little this latest iteration does differently than any previous versions. Save the extreme portability. Guybrush can be controlled directly by tap-dragging on the screen to call up a virtual control stick, or by tapping an interactive object to walk over to it (double-tap to run). A small likeness of a ship's wheel can also be used to cycle through selectable objects in the environment, or players can place two fingers on the screen to reveal all of the interactive bits in a scene.
The original game had some great artwork, although the finer details were a bit absent, and that's no different here. However, the lack of detail is almost completely nullified by being on the small screen. I'd even go as far as saying it looks darn good when shrunk down to fit on the iPhone's screen. Similarly, the use of a touch screen makes fiddling with inventory items very easy. I also have to say I really like how I can open any installed episode from any other; for example, I can load up part two from part one and vice-versa.
The problem with Monkey Island Tales 2, aside from it being the same exact game some of us have already played a couple of years ago, is that it's number two-of-five. It's a solid stand-alone experience, don't get me wrong, but anyone jumping in without playing the first episode will be totally lost on the story. Although this is obvious enough that it shouldn't really be an issue for anyone. A bigger and more realistic problem is that I've run into more than a few regular performance issues. Some areas will run smoothly, but others (especially the more active Spinner Cay) get choppy. Sometimes very choppy. There were also more than a few instances (again, during more "active" moments) when parts of the dialog's audio would cut off the end of a character's sentence. It's most likely due to running the game on the bare minimum hardware (iPhone 3GS), but it's still a rather irritating problem.
It's tough to recommend the second fifth of a game to someone who hasn't touched the first or has no patience to wait for the rest. However, it's a good indicator of what we can expect from the complete package. Once the other three episodes are released, anyway.