Piratey software

Thought you were going to read a juicy story about how to get free software, well…. no, that’s not what this is about. What I am going to do is introduce two lovely pirate themed games, both of which I have enjoyed thoroughly

Tales of monkey island

The history

Well what can I say about monkey island… It was one of the first pc games I played, and I hope it will be the last. By that I mean that if I die in mid-game in one of its sequels then I’ll be a happy man. Monkey island is the game I compare all other role playing games to. It was my first realization, that games didn’t have to move fast, have a time limit, or require shooting to be fun. The main goal of this game s for the designers and artists to make you giggle about the wacky scenes and hilarious dialog.

The original was much simpler, with text dialogue and blocky characters, but they were so well styled that in your brain was created a lush atmosphere of hilarious piratey proportions.

I’d certainly still recommend the originals, playable on the SCUMM VM virtual platform. They actually re-released the original for play station 3 a few years back with added voices and updated graphics.

The intro

Tales of monkey island is the 5th in the monkey island series, and noticeably their first 3d adventure. While many games have failed to please in a 3d environment, this game loses none of its original style and is enhanced by the freedom to explore your environment. To make life easier, if you touch the screen with 2 fingers, all interactable items get a small circle to show you where to touch to interact with it, which is extremely handy, as it’s hard to tell what is available, especially when your iPad screens brightness is turned down.

This game is split into 5 parts, each playable separately but designed to play in sequence. It’s a great idea, as you can buy each part as you need it,band gives TellTale a constant source of funds to make the next part while gamers were playing the start of the game.

Gameplay

As Guybrush Threepwood, the unusually named pirate wanna-be (well I believe well established but unorthodox pirate by this far in the game), you basically collect inventory items that you need to progress onto further parts of the game. A key, some money, and more often than not some substitution of an item you know you need, where you combine your items to make wacky interpretations of items you need. This keeps your brain busy with trying to unlock the secrets to this puzzle. You will certainly get stuck along the way, and will most likely peek through a gap in your fingers at a “walk through” of the game on the Internet to solve some puzzles. That being said the puzzles are not that hard and with persistence you can work out almost all if them.

The gameplay is non-linear, so you can travel around your environment fairly freely, but the story unfolds in a specifi order, and often as you pass a significant challenge a part of the world which is completed will be removed from the game, by sailing to another island or another easy to understand transition (like being a spirit in the netherword after being murdered for example)

The environment

It’s the little things in this game that make it so great. Even irrelevant items will make you chuckle for their absurdity. Long time gamers are rewarded with bits of memorabilia from previous monkey island references, and new comers will be delighted by experiencing that kind of fun for the first time .

If you are looking for an authentic pirate adventure, then this is not the game for you. It’s more like a “pirate themed” kids birthday party, with a small dog wearing an eye patch, in a family restaurant called “Pirate Pete’s family grog shack”

One of the best parts ofthe game is that the 3D is still fairly flat and most of the effects are painted into the background. This actually makes the graphics more beautiful, in an artistic sense rather than a photorealistic sense, and money island graphics are instantly recogniseable with a style they have used through the whole series, which is impressive seeing that I played it for the first time over 20 years ago.

The roundup

If you are a seasoned game player, or want to have a “dabble” look no further than this game series. Good for home computer or iPad, which works fantastically in touch screen format (point and click games often do). It’s a no stress way to have a lot of fun, and suitable for all ages (except too complex for under 8s I’d say). You could even play it with a loved one watching the story unfold together like an interactive movie. Just play it.

Sunken treasure HD

The intro

This piratey game is very much different from monkey island in many ways. My first impression was uh-oh, I think I’ve been tricked and it’s not a serious pirate game but a pirate themed “find and click” (or touch on the iPad) game. I like these too but that’s not what this game seemed like in the beginning.

I often don’t over-research games I buy as I still like the idea of exploration and the unknown. I remember when I was a kid and going to the video store and choosing a VHS video by the cover and a brief description on the back. I think the feeling of getting a winner when you didn’t expect it is better than when your expectations are so high the game has too much to live up to.

Anyway this game turned out to be not only that but a whole lot more. More enough to the point I wanted to write about it. The first thing that will grab you about this game is the beautiful graphics. Obviously designed in 3D then painted over it has a magic feeling of well sculpted scenes. You navigate by clicking into the distance and move the next camera angle, so no 3D camera moves, which allows them more freedom with the graphics.

gameplay

There are many “mini games” that follow the same story line, but are played out differently. There are also many “find and click” but are cleverly done and take a bit of thinking. There are no penalties, so you might even go on a click/touch rampage to get lucky. A delightful feature is that if you get stuck, you can play a quick game of mahjong to get a clue. Interesting use of a sub game.

Another thing that drew me into this game is the similarity of the exploration techniques that i found when i recent played “the room” which was an exquisite game). i same some similarities wiht the two games and decided to try this game. I cant say the level of detail in this game is like the room but it has so much variety that i understand the reason for this. They actually do very well weh it comes to intereacting with objects and it has a nice feeling when you do. For example, turning a lever is not as realistic but still intuative in its movement.

The environment

One thing i must say is that the characters are pretty weak and the storyline equally thin and unrealistic, but it doesnt really detract fromthe game. Most people want to get into the game, and this game doesnt waste too much time explaining how and why things happen. They just do. The voicees of the characters are mixed too loud and your daughter is so whiney i had to take my earphones out. Once again these are mild annoyances in a fun and exploratory game.

Unlike Monkey Island, this game is supposed to be quite serious, so they aim for the horror/fear end of the spectrum. The music is amazing and gives the game much more depth and so good i just sat back and listend for a while. The serious tone of the game is often failed by the weird interactions you have that remove the fear, like chit chatting with a drunk zombie pirate who doesnt seems to mind your presence on their ship at all, and actually kind of serves as a guide at some point.

The roundup

This game is another good “on the go” game which doesnt require your full attention all the time. that being said, It is much more enjoyable to play in the dark with headphones, so you get a more eerie experience.

its a good game for all ages, and is a nice combination of many other style games, which will keep you interested for quite a while. theres no laughs here, except by the randomness of some events, but a solid adventure that will keep you coming back.

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