As with the previous chapter, the game opens up with the Voodoo Lady giving an account of Guybrush’s adventures and the current state of affairs. If you haven’t played Episode One or Episode Two, then you may want to play them first so that you can catch up on the story so far. But at the end of the previous episode, Guybrush, his first mate Winslow and the Bounty Hunter Morgan LeFlay aboard the Screaming Narwhal in search of the famed La Esponja Grande, are swallowed by a giant Manatee.
In his adventures during Lair of the Leviathan, Guybrush will meet a number of new characters. We finally meet explorer Coronado De Cava, who, as you probably guessed has also been swallowed by the Manatee. His crew has disappeared, presumed dead, and it is up to Guybrush (with some help from Morgan) to find a way out of the Manatee and back looking for the La Esponja Grande. Winslow seems to have contracted the dreaded Pox of LeChuck and won’t be much help throughout the episode. If everything goes well though (you must first convince De Cava that you aren’t in love with the Voodoo Lady), gamers will meet the remainder of De Cava’s crew. They’re certainly a varied bunch, each with their own mannerisms. There is Moose (the stereotypical layabout), Noogie (the geek) and the leader of the Brotherhood, Bugeye. The Marquis and the Voodoo Lady make an appearance, but Elaine and LeChuck are sadly absent. Who knows what they’re up to.
The puzzles keep flowing
Puzzles will again involve picking up whatever you can and using the items. Guybrush will have no hesitation in sticking whatever he can pick up into his Mary Poppins carpetbag style pockets. It doesn’t seem to matter what you put in them, they just seem to have enough room for something else. Having said that though, the inventory is rarely cluttered with items you’ll never use. Items that can be picked up, or clicked on, will no doubt have some usefulness or be required to solve a certain puzzle. In that way, most puzzles are fairly simple even for novice gamers. There were a couple of brainteasers that had me scratching my head before I remembered the above rule that if something hasn’t been used yet, it may be required for the next puzzle. Indeed, I found this chapter flowed nicely as the puzzles weren’t overly complicated.
One thing that will no doubt please the hordes of fans of the original Monkey Island is the Pirate Face-Off. The Face-Off works in much the same way that Insult Sword Fighting worked in The Secret of Monkey Island. In this case, players must learn different scary faces in order to defeat Bugeye in the Pirate Face-Off. Like the original insult sword fighting, it is a heap of fun working out which combinations of facial expressions work best.
Vibrant and colourful
Visually, the game is again vibrant. The colours used just make the game feel more alive, and certainly liven up the settings. And although there are only a small number of locations in this instalment, they are quite varied and certainly help the flow of the game, so as not to make it too stale. One feature that really impressed me was the lack of having to go back and forth between locations as was the case in the two previous episodes. Maybe it was just due to the simpler puzzles. Whatever the case, it was a pleasant improvement on the two prior.
Music is again upbeat, and personally I enjoyed it more than the previous episode. The character vocals are again well voiced. Murray the Skull Head and Coronado De Cava are my two particular favourites from the episode (apart from the continued superb voice acting of Guybrush). De Cava’s Spanish accent is just right, and his craziness (picking a lock with toenail cuttings) and attitude towards Guybrush keep the story flowing. In fact, the in-jokes regarding De Cava’s perception of the relationship (or lack of as is the actual case) between Guybrush and the Voodoo Lady is quite amusing. The characters maintain the humour of past episodes with their one liners. Maybe not quite as funny as the past two episodes, but still worth a few laughs.
Again, there are enough references to movies, pop-culture and past Monkey Island games to keep gamers smiling. References to Pinocchio (you do start in the bowels of a sea creature), Horse's head warnings (in this case a sea-horse’s head) and Liposuction are amusing. Indeed, on one occasion Guybrush is transported into the Voodoo Lady’s body and just can’t resist seeing how her bits jiggle. Guybrush even does some animal matchmaking in an attempt to reach La Esponja Grande.
Keep them coming
Overall, the third episode would have to be the best to date. The story flows nicely (helped by the superb cut-scenes), the puzzles aren’t overly difficult and there is a reduced requirement to travel back and forth between locations (there are two main location in the Manatee that you will need to travel between) which is always a bonus. The visuals and audio again do the series justice, and the inclusion of the Pirate Face-Off contest will undoubtedly have old time Monkey Island fans reminiscing. The only thing now is the questions that the game leaves open: namely what has happened to Elaine and LeChuck? Will Guybrush be able to save her from the terrible Pox? And can he stop the Pox from spreading throughout the entire Caribbean? What will happen between Guybrush and Morgan? No doubt all will be revealed in the final two chapters.
Pirate Face-Off – just like insult sword fighting, but with scary faces
Not quite as funny as the previous episodes