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Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle

Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle


Developer: Wizarbox The title screen.The title screen.
Released: 2012.03.16
Genre: Fantasy / Comedy
Graphics: Cartoon / 2.5D
Perspective: Third person
Gameplay: Point-and-Click









"My name is Morgane Castillo and I want to be a pirate!". So, what does one need to make an adventure game about pirates? A young protagonist who wants to be a pirate captain? CHECK. A series of tasks to gather a crew for the ship? CHECK. A mysterious island (named after an animal) that is the secret destination? CHECK. A village of a voodoo tribe? CHECK. Some amusing anachronisms and such to keep players entertained? CHECK. And that's a recipe that works to produce pirate adventure games, which sometimes become undeniable classics of the genre... and sometimes not so much.

The way Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle is planned out makes it almost impossible to avoid comparisons with The Secret of Monkey Island, a legendary game by LucasArts a couple of decades prior. It would be wrong to label this game as a blatant rip-off of Monkey Island, as there is much more to this game than that. Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle is actually a spin-off game from So Blonde series, and Sonia Bond, the protagonist from So Blonde even makes a cameo appearance in the game. So the overall package is balancing somewhere between trying to be a faithful spin-off to its predecessors in the So Blonde universe, and borrowing heavily from Monkey Island and some other unrelated games. It is not an easy environment to navigate in, so to speak, and Captain Morgane doesn't quite manage to build its own identity as a title.

Morgane Castillo introducing herself.Morgane Castillo introducing herself.
OK, so bypassing the problems of having a protagonist from another game being just a cameo character in her own universe, and not dwelling on the unimaginative task of solving The Secret of Turtle Island, what does the game really have to offer for its adventure-hungry players? The game happens in 10 acts, all of which bring the narrative piece by piece closer to its conclusion. The first act is weird to say the least, as you start playing as Morgane the kid, who in the second act is a 19-year-old girl who becomes an acting captain of Winsome Maid, as some kind of coming-of-age ritual by her father, who is the real captain of the ship. While the different stories come together later on, it is a bit confusing, in addition to the game overall borrowing elements left and right from other games.

After the beginning, which is a bit slow, the game changes to high gear and is loaded with different plots, subplots, tasks, and places to explore. Going by numbers, the game offers very much to play, many places to explore, and many things to do. In addition to pointing and clicking, there are even arcade-style minigames, which all have a cheat button to pass them for players who are not willing to take such challenges. There are no dead-ends or deaths, except for those minigames, in which case the minigame simply restarts, whereas the real game goes on continuously, so doing anything in the game world is safe.

Possibly because of the nature of the game, it is a bit all over the place. There are so many subplots that it is almost impossible to keep track of them all, some of them including some unnecessary family drama which really doesn't advance the quest for the golden turtle. There is an insane amount of backtracking in the game, usually involving a fetch quest of some kind, as apparently not a single person in the game world can find anything by him/herself. Fortunately there is a very good log book of sorts, where the player can always check what tasks or quests are yet to be done. For some weird reason, some of those are completely irrelevant. Not completing them will not prevent from completing the game, and completing them will not provide any kind of reward. It can be guessed that perhaps the final version of the game was locked in at some point of the development cycle, and not all loose ends were tied properly. In the same fashion, there are some items in the game that are not used, and some places which strongly hint the possibility of becoming accessible, but they never become accessible, like some trapdoors.

By your command!By your command!
Puzzles in the game are about medium difficulty, with the biggest challenge being how to trigger the next action. Most of the items in the game can't simply be taken, but first need to have some conversation with someone to justify taking them. Most doors in the game are locked, to the point of it being almost ridiculous at times. As a player you know what to do next, but need to have the right conversation with the right person to get the right item to enable opening the door, or finding an alternative entrance. While most puzzles are somewhat logical, there are a couple of puzzles that simply don't make any sense whatsoever. To give an example, later in the game the protagonist gets a whistle that only birds, not humans, can hear. But the hearing range of birds is narrower than that of humans, so the very foundation of such puzzle solutions is wrong. And while a comedy game can, and by all means should, take some liberties with relation to real-life logic, going towards something that can't even be imagined to be real in the real world makes the puzzle design look worse than it actually needs to be.

What has been done to absolute perfection in the game is how the inventory works. There is an audiovisual cue every time the inventory content changes, and it is not related to getting new items, it also happens with already carried items changing their title. For instance, if an object "bottle" becomes an "empty bottle", the audiovisual cue is played. The same happens every time the tasks are updated. There is also a hotspot indicator system, that is either on or off, so hitting spacebar once will leave the hotspot indicators on for the duration of the game for those who wish to have them. These features are all very well thought out, and make the game easier to access for players with less experience on adventure games. To help with backtracking there is a map system, which for some strange reason doesn't work everywhere. For instance, you can't use map inside a bar to teleport to another location, you need to exit the bar first, and use the map outside the bar.

Voodoo village.Voodoo village.
There are some problems too. While the game allows saving anywhere, the saving features are among the worst ever seen. For a game of this length, having multiple saves would be a basic requirement. Instead, the game is using one save slot only. There are some more available, but in order to use those, the player needs to go to main menu, and choose copying one save to another slot, for some reason which no sensible mind can understand, there is no possibility of choosing a save slot while actually saving the game. There are also some serious performance issues with the game, which can possibly be related to some specific hardware, but for the purpose of this review two computers were used, and neither of them performed 100% smoothly, with the game giving some indications of memory leak here and there, whether that was actually the case can only be guessed.

The game is professionally voice acted, and while the cast isn't the best ever, they all do good enough a job. There are some melodies in the game, but they are either forgettable, or slightly annoying because they are too repetetive when exploring same areas for longer periods. Visually the game looks very nice. 3D characters against the 2D backgrounds look nice, and there are some very immersive backgrounds in the game. What is a bit annoying is how there are several different graphical styles showing the same characters. For instance, the protagonist is a 3D model, but when she is having a conversation, a 2D cartoon image is shown next to subtitles, which can't be turned off. For those who care, neither the 3D models nor 2D characters are moving their mouths when talking. In some cases, there are cutscenes which look a bit cheap, like hidden object game cutscenes usually look. The way the characters look in these cutscenes do not completely match neither 3D models, or 2D dialogue images, which gives a bit strange impression.

The Secret of Turtle Island.The Secret of Turtle Island.
But the basic question here is, is it a good game? Yes, and maybe not so much yes. The wannabe pirate thing has been tried in adventure games, and most of the time it works. Surely there are many amusing situations in the game this time too, perhaps the funniest gags being this time hidden in the backgrounds in the form of hidden items, anachronisms, intertextual references, and just fun stuff overall. The other side of the coin is that Captain Morgane is not better than its numerous predecessors in any area, with some user-friendliness being the sole exception to that. There is this feeling that the developers have done what they could to extend the length of the game, while it would have benefitted from being perhaps half of its length, more compact and having less unnecessary stuffing.

Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle is a nice addition to any adventure game collection, but very few people would name it as the pride and joy of their collection. For being in a tough spot that it is in, a spin-off of one game, and a repeat of formula of another game, it does quite well. What is missing is true greatness and originality. But in the end of all things, there have been very few adventure players who have chosen not to play a comedic pirate story whenever possible, and as such the game works well, even if it comes short in all comparisons to its more noteworthy predecessors.

The door is locked.The door is locked.



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