Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Secret of Monkey Island (1990, VGA version)

I apologise for the GIFs, I may have gone slightly overboard with them.

The Secret of Monkey Island is the first in an adventure game series beloved by almost all adventure game fans. I am no exception, and even though I have played through the game many times I was still more than happy to play it again.

Really? You look more like a flooring inspector.

Wouldn't we all like to know.

Speak for yourself.

Trickster, over at The Adventure Gamer, is currently playing his way through so I thought I'd join him. No doubt he will be quite detailed in his journey through the game so I would highly recommend you go and read his words!

Getting fired
I have no words

It's not hard to see the attraction of the game, a pirate-themed comedy adventure starring a hapless and yet affable man by the name of Guybrush Threepwood. His quest is simple, to become a mighty pirate! Of course it's not that simple, and his initial trials lead him on a journey of mystery, danger and rescue.
Don't we all
There's much I love about the game, but the main focus for me has always been Governor Elaine Marley. She's the love-interest, but much more of an interesting character than Guybrush. As the Governor of the pirate-haven that is Mêlée Island™, she comes across as confident and self-sufficient. After Elaine is captured by LeChuck, Guybrush rushes into action, and yet is always a step behind the Ghost Pirate. When he finally does catch up, all he does is disrupt the existing plans of Elaine, but of course manages to save the day despite his inept handling of the situation.

Training with... THE MACHINE
An example of recurrent fourth wall breaking

As much as a few hours work and thirty pieces-of-eight counts as training, anyway.
Taking on The Sword Master

She shows up in subsequent games too, but I do feel like the character never quite gets enough to do, or enough to say. It's one of the few flaws of an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining game.
Terrible winged devil!

Super-salesman Stan!

Second-hand ships, low prices for a reason.

Such flaws are of course minor issues, there's really very little about the game to dislike. I could mention things like the need to wander back-and-forth between locations and how it comes across as needless padding, but those sort of issues plague so many games that it would be unduly harsh to single out Monkey Island for it.
A little dig at Sierra here
Just an average day then.

Meeting the friendly Monkey Island™ Cannibals.
I must admit to not being the biggest fan of the insult sword-fighting, something which the game is famous for. The general mechanism is good, and the need to adapt your responses for the Sword Master is fantastic. Perhaps it is merely a result of replaying it multiple times, but the humour of the insults is a lot weaker than the rest of the game and so that particular section can feel a bit of a slog when you have to fight so many pirates to acquire the right phrases.
The only way to navigate the hellish maze: by getting a head.

Even the inventory colour changes when you enter Hell
LeChuck's ghost ship! (How is the ship a ghost? Voodoo something I bet)
The biggest flaw in my eyes (or should I say ears) is the periods of silence during the game. This is a problem with the time at which the game was produced, and yet it stands out when played today. The music that does exist is brilliant, but that makes the silence in-between even more apparent. There's a lack of of ambient sound too, and it's a real shame. The recent remake added in a bit more on the sound front, including full voice acting, which I seem to recall getting a mixed but generally positive reaction from fans of the series.
Is this a rescue? Or am I just in the way (I think it's the latter)
That's one heck of a punch...
It really sends you flying!
Finally, I must give massive credit for the creation of possibly the greatest adventure game antagonist, the fearsome Pirate Captain LeChuck. He terrorises the Caribbean throughout the series, in various forms both undead and demonic. His brash, arrogant nature and never-stay-dead attitude are a nice contrast from well-meaning, bumbling fool Guybrush. All of the "Meanwhile..." sequences he stars in throughout the games are a particular highlight of mine.

Who you gonna call?
I'm sure LeChuck will bother us no more!

So there passes the first chapter in the life of Guybrush Threepwood, but it shall be a little while before the second is undertaken by The Adventure Gamer (and also my replay). The second game remains my firm favourite in both the Monkey Island series and also the entire Lucasarts/LucasFilm Games catalogue. More on that another day!

Happily ever after, and a little advice for the player.
I think I will.

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