Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Little Bit of Review: Monkey Island


This, my friends, is my FAVORITE game of all time. I remember fondly sitting in front of my CRT monitor, my tiny childish fingers nimbly grazing the fraying mousepad, while dancing to the title screen music of The Secret of Monkey Island. I mean, come on now, how many of you are with me? This was one of Lucasfilms' FIRST triumphs (later to come: Grim Fandango), and now the only place I can find it is through cheap emulators. Therefore, I haven't played it in quite sometime. Floppy drives are hard to come by these days, and that's the only copy I have left. OLD SCHOOL!

Here's a little bit of review, though, you shouldn't really need it as this game came out in 1990. But, maybe you're just like me and looking to relive the old times. That's fine, too.

Anyway, Guybrush Threepwood! Most of us as children could relate to him, I'm sure; all he wanted to be was a pirate. The game begins by chronicalling Threepwood's arrival on the small Island of Melee. He seeks out the pirate leaders on the island who set him to task with three VERY pirate-y requirements:
1. Defeat Carla in "insult sword-fighting".
2. Steal a statue from the governer's mansion
3. Find buried treasure.

I remember when I was younger feeling daunted and confused by the three requirements. How would I know when I'd done them? What if I missed so
mething? Who was Elaine Marley? (She's the governer, in case you forgot) Now I look back, and think, "Ah, to be young and innocent in the face of an adventure game. If only I knew then what I knew now." The simplicity behind Monkey Island is really the crux of the game. Without it, I wonder, would adventure games ever have picked up, or would they simply have been left behind in the dust, much like the arcade games of yore?

Sure, there were a few little tricks here and there, for example, searching through EVERY SINGLE BOX EVER to find EVERY SINGLE THING (When I play RPGs now, and do this same thing, I simply refer to it as "Monkey Island Syndrome"). Exhibit A: A Rubber Chicken with a Pulley in the Middle:

Strangely enough, unlike the modern adventure games, most of the items that one found were actually useful. I mean, really, a chicken with a pulley in the middle? You use it to carreen across the valley and get to the mayor. What are the odds? Thank god for creative minds.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. After meeting some of the most eccentric characters in videogame history (Meathook, the "gentleman" with two hooks for hands, gave me nightmares for years. And "three men of low moral fiber" = the best name for some characters ever), Guybrush successfully completes all three tasks.

Then, this weird ghost-pirate named LeChuck (I used that name for all the bad-guys for future games to come including Chrono Trigger) decides that he is going to kidnap Elaine (the hot mayor), and marry her. So, of course, Threepwood decides he is going to save her. Thus, he gets a crew together (including the aforementioned Meathook), and they go to Monkey Island.

Long story short, he meets some Cannibals, and a Hermit (Herman Toothrot, another great name, Thanks Lucasfilms!), who give him a recipe to destroy all ghosts. But, when he decides to finally go after LeChuck, he discovers that LeChuck and Elaine have already gone back to Melee, and are getting married.

Final Random Fact: Guybrush finally defeats LeChuck by spraying him with rootbeer. This is probably one of the most frustrating parts, as you don't really know what to do. This is when "Monkey Island Syndrome" comes in handy, because you will vaguely remember the cannibals mentioning that the MAGICAL GHOST-KILLING ELIXIR is made from "voodoo root, and goes well with vanilla ice-cream". That's the end, basically, except for the customary love-scene under the fireworks between the mayor and the pirate-wannabe. Gotta love it.

There are a bunch of crappy crappy sequels that come after this, but they're totally not worth playing, because no game will EVER be as good as the original. If you haven't played it yet, and haven't figured out through my sterling description that it is imperative then you should go slap yourself, and then play with an electric socket. I mean, really, you obviously haven't had a very exciting life. There is HONESTLY nothing better than getting carpal tunnel while hunting for chickens with pulleys in them.

1 comment:

  1. Good review. Fair and balanced. I'm almost shocked you could find a picture of the actual gameplay. ;-) then again it IS the internet...anything can happen.