Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle Review
Game: Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle
Publisher: Reef Entertainment
Available on: Windows PC, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS & Nintendo Wii (Reviewed on PlayStation 3)
Interest in pirates may have seen something of a resurgence in the last decade or so, thanks to the efforts of Somalia, and the big budget tales of the high-seas starring nutcase heartthrob Johnny Depp. Along with Skrillex, miaow miaow and drop crotch jeans, the kids are down with anything to do with plundering bounty in a nautical setting. The same cannot be said of point and click videogames. When I was a lad, thanks to the brilliance of series like Monkey Island, the genre was riding high, right the way up to the excellent Broken Sword series which kicked off in 1996.
With gamers abandoning this style of entertainment for more flashy wares, it has been left up to people like Steve Ince to keep the art form alive. You see, Mr Ince is an industry veteran, who has had a hand in some legendary point and click classics, including the sublime Beneath a Steel Sky, and the Broken Sword games themselves. In 2008, along with French developer Wizarbox, he struck out on his own and created the excellent So Blonde graphic adventure, which captured the old-school feel of the games I enjoyed as a lad, with a fun cartoon setting, which married an award winning script, lovely hand drawn visuals and a plot based around, you guessed it, pirates. It was ported, quite logically, to the Wii and DS, two consoles ideally suited to the genre, control-wise, and now Ince is back with a sequel, which has also been ported to those formats, but is available for PlayStation 3 using the PlayStation Move controller, which is the version I am taking a gander at here.
STORY: Captain Morgane puts you in the role of Morgane Castillo, the sassy eight year old daughter of a legendary pirate, who is desperate to live up to the name of her old man. Your task is to take her on a quest to find the titular Golden Turtle at the behest of a mysterious, wealthy client, as well as seeking the whereabouts of her missing Uncle Eduardo. On the fun island hopping adventure, you meet a cast of crazy characters and see Morgane grow up from being a naïve young girl to a fully fledged, ass-kicking pirate with aspirations of captaining her own pirate ship. Yaaarrrr!
GRAPHICS: Like all the best point and click titles, Captain Morgane has terrific, hand-drawn backdrops that are full of life and amazing cartoon charm. Unlike the olden days, this is presented in stunning 1080p high definition, meaning that the myriad of 17th century Caribbean locations and forty well-designed characters look the bee’s knees, something you can see for yourself from our recent First Look. Morgane and her chums are beautifully animated throughout, and there are some nice looking, if static, cut-scenes that reveal crucial parts of the story.
SOUND: All of the characters in the Captain Morgane universe are fully voiced, and while there are no star names involved, the cast do a great job overall. Ince has done a grand job once again with a funny script and likeable characters. There are also some excellent tunes and incidental sound effects for your auditory pleasure.
GAMEPLAY: Point and click adventures are pretty self explanatory, you negotiate each static scene, speaking to NPC’s, exploring your surroundings and using items in order to progress. Rather than using a mouse or a DS stylus, this version uses either the PlayStation controller or the Move pointer. Move controls work well, as you use the magical wand to point the cursor, and move Morgane around the world by holding down the Move button and moving the controller around.
How you progress is always clear, as the entry and exit points for each screen are clearly marked with yellow arrows, and any interactive elements are identified by the cursor changing shape and the name of the particular object or individual appearing at the bottom of the screen. The cursor will change to one of three options, ‘USE’, ‘TALK’ or ‘LOOK’, all basic stuff really. If you do find yourself getting stuck, you can press the Start button at any time to actually display all of the points of interest in each scene; but this rather takes the fun out of things.
Castillo has an inventory which, is represented in-game by a treasure chest containing all of your items, maps and a quest log showing your objectives. It is very easy to use. You can select items with the press of a button. Sometimes you will have to combine more than one item, with the game even having useful sound effects to tell you whether your chosen combination is right or wrong. Maps also feature way-points, dots which you can click on to transport back to anywhere you have already visited.
LONGEVITY: Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle is a pretty lengthy affair. There are stacks of puzzles, mini-games and reams of dialogue to work through, and the game is going to last you around 12 hours. The main issue is the repetitive nature of the game, many of the mundane tasks you have to carry out and cut-scenes you have to sit through are tiresome to say the least. While it is fun to find out what is going to happen next, it is hardly what you would call high-octane excitement, and most gamers unfamiliar with the genre will get fed up of waving the controller around looking for icons in the background.
VERDICT: I can’t help but feel that this is a game is destined to be a failure, commercially at least. It will certainly appeal to fans of point and click games, and would be a brilliant title for a young gamer interested in a good rollicking pirate story. I could also see it working much more effectively as a handheld game enjoyed in shorter bursts. Ploughing through hours of fairly boring point and click fare on a big TV just isn’t something that appeals to me. That said, it does have a super plot, some lovely visuals, solid controls and another cracking script from one of the most commendable individuals working in the industry today. It is nice that such an old fashioned style of game still lives on, and this is definitely going to delight a core audience of fans.