Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle Preview
Amongst fans of the genre, Steve Ince is probably one of the most well known individuals currently working in adventure game production. His resume boasts writing credits on such gaming classics as the Broken Sword series and Beneath a Steel Sky – both produced in his time working for Revolution Games. More recently though, Steve has branched out and has created his very own gaming world, the world of So Blonde. The game So Blonde was released in 2008 and did so well it later received an updated re-imagining for Nintendo DS and Wii in 2010.
Now though, Wizarbox Games – the development team behind the title – have asked Steve to create a prequel of sorts, focusing on one of the most popular supporting characters in the series, the dreaded Pirate Captain – Captain Morgane.
Set in the Caribbean in the Seventeenth Century, the game allows players to take control Morgane Castillo – a young girl who wants to be a Pirate, just like her Father. In the So Blonde series, Morgane has become the most feared Pirate on the Seven Seas, and this game aims to show her journey from the very beginning. Her future is shaped early in her life when her Uncle Eduardo is lost at sea and her Mother dies suddenly, leaving her Father no choice but to take her with him and to look after her whilst at sea. We flash forward nine years and resume the story with a more mature Morgane, now looking to build a crew and charter the very first voyage of her own. This leads her on the quest for a lost treasure that will help make her name – The Golden Turtle!
When we take control in the game, Morgane is aged eight and is a feisty girl with lots of energy. Players are eased into the game with a semi-tutorial section where Morgane is tasked with cleaning the house by her Mother. This is a slow-paced section and is intended to allow players to get to grips with the controls, whilst in a limited space where they won’t get confused or lost. The controls are all fairly straightforward for regular adventure game players, with a simple point and click interface and drag and drop object interaction.
When selecting an object from your inventory to use, players must drag the object out of the inventory and onto the play screen, then drop it onto the object to use it on. Unfortunately, this method does mean that sometimes players might drop the item in the wrong place or let go of the button too soon, and a point and click selection method may have been more logical. I suspect this may have been a decision taken because when playing the PlayStation 3 or Wii version, gamers will likely have to grab and drag items, so it seems that the interface may simply have been carried across onto all versions to save re-writing the code. It will be interesting to see how well the Move and motion control integration works in the title – but in general, adventure games have worked well on these motion-based platforms.
A lot of the puzzles will involve conversations and players will have to gather hints that will help them figure out how to solve puzzles or get important information from the other people they meet. The voices are all of a fairly high standard, although strangely the previously Spanish Pirate Morgane has been given a well-spoken English voice for this third title in the series. This may have been a decision based on making her speaking a little clearer to understand internationally, but it seems an odd step to take after two games with her speaking with a Spanish accent. This doesn’t really detract from the overall experience though. The writing in the title is obviously of a high standard, and the experience possessed by Mr Ince shines through in both the structure of the puzzles and the pacing of the story.
The graphics have been improved from the previous titles also, with full high-definition visuals available on the PC and PlayStation 3 versions, which really helps to make the most of the detailed hand drawn backgrounds. The animation and character models are all a little exagerrated and cartoony, but this fits with the tone of the game and the atmosphere it creates. This isn’t a dank and gloomy Pirate adventure, it is more of a sun-drenched comedy.
There are also a selection of minigames dotted throughout the title. These range from the incredibly simplistic, to the fiendish. In fact, one sword-fighting minigame that is encountered early on is actually pretty difficult – especially as it is your first taste of any minigames in the adventure. Luckily if you do find yourself struggling with one of these games, there is the option to “cheat”, which just involves skipping it. There is some variety in the games too – some are based on reactions, whereas others are more measured affairs. These add a little variety to proceedings, without intruding and ruining the adventure game feeling.
Unlike a lot of modern adventure games, there is no built-in help system. The game relies on the player talking to other characters when they become stuck, as often the other characters will suggest ideas or drop hints as to what you should be trying next. In the options menus there is an objective screen, where your current goals are listed, which also helps the player keep track of what they should be doing.
The preview code of course wasn’t entirely solid with some minor problems here and there, but that is to be expected from such an early build. Fans of the series are bound to enjoy the story and re-joining characters they have met before. there are a lot of little in-jokes for regular players, but being a prequel, the game is perfect for beginners as well as it isn’t bogged down in any backstory from the previous titles. Pirates are also very popular right now, but then there is a danger that the game may get lost in the mix, with all the other similarly themed titles. For those who have never tried the work of Steve Ince, perhaps now is the time to jump aboard and sample the Adventures of Captain Morgane.
Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle is due for release on PlayStation 3, PC, Nintendo Wii & DS in late 2011.