Once upon a time Lucasarts made games that didn’t have the Star Wars name plastered all over them. It was a simple time, filled with laughter and bright colours, quick wit and intriguing puzzles. While it seems that time is long gone, we can still look back fondly upon these games, hoping that one day they will be revived in a blaze of glory.
Games like Day of The Tentacle, Grim Fandango and most importantly, the Monkey Island Series. The Curse Of Monkey Island to be precise, the 3rd superb game in the series,often regarded as the strongest out of all 4. Hit the jump to find out more!
The Curse Of Monkey Island is a point and click adventure game. The player uses a pointer, usually a mouse, to interact with the environment and solve puzzles. We don’t see many of these anymore, simply because as console gaming has grown bigger, more of the mainstream want 3D graphics, guns and explosions. The 4th Monkey Island game (Escape From Monkey Island) was the only 3D title in the series, and is often said to be the weakest.
The interface for the game is as simple as gaming gets, click over an object or person and a coin will come up. On the coin there are 3 symbols; A Parrot (Talking/Mouth Activities), A Skull (Examining/Looking At Objects) and a Hand (Using or Picking Things Up). Left clicking would bring up the Coin Menu, whilst right clicking would have you perform the most obvious use of an item/person; For a person it would be talking to them, for a door it would be opening it. Anyone can use these controls, easy to understand and simple in use, however its the aspect of what to do with what object/person that adds the puzzle element to the game. It takes a while to figure out what you can or cant use with specific people/objects.
The game centers around a wannabe pirate, Guybrush Threepwood. He has foolishly turned his girlfriend into solid gold by giving her a cursed diamond ring from the treasure hoard of his arch nemesis; The Zombie Pirate LeChuck. Guybrush must then retrieve the statue, which is stolen almost immediately, and return her to human form. Although through the course of the game you’ll meet many quirky characters, from demonic skulls to vegetarian cannibals.
The Curse Of Monkey Island has an irrefutable charm to it, the 2D style mixed with vibrant colours gives it such a pleasant look. Even though at times the game will frustrate you to your very core, the crystal clear animation tops it all off with a pretty pink bow. The game’s main strength comes through in the writing though; a talking skull who comes out with lines like – “I’m a powerful demonic force! I’m the harbinger of your doom! And the forces of darkness will applaud me as I STRIDE through the gates of hell carrying your head on a pike!” even though its clear he has no legs. Now, this is just one of the side characters! Coupled with superb voice acting it makes for a hilarious roller-coaster ride of hilarity (Funnily enough it was the first game in the series to feature voice acting).
There are many memorable parts in the game, personally I believe that if certain parts of a game stand out in your memory after you complete it, the game has made a fairly solid impression on you. Every gamer I’ve spoken to who has played The Curse Of Monkey Island can remember specific lines and scenes, no matter how long its been. Parts like the Banjo Duel and Insult Sword fighting, where you fight using wit and words, each insult having an appropriate comeback; “Throughout the Caribbean, my great deeds are celebrated!” would be defeated by “Too bad they’re all fabricated.” There are countless references and “In-Jokes” from other games and even books/movies; titles like Ren and Stimpy, Grim Fandango and Apocalypse Now all have a subtle line uttered throughout the course of the game.
It’s a darn shame they don’t make games like this any more, as emphasis was placed strongly on the story and writing, rather than the graphics, leading to a unique experience compared to many titles that exist today. There were two modes in the game; the Regular Mode, and Mega Monkey, this included more puzzles and gameplay, making an already difficult game even harder.
The Curse Of Monkey Island is reasonably long, but Mega Monkey expands it nicely. Newcomers will get hours of pleasure from it, although they may find the ending to be a bit flat and anticlimactic, but that depends on your experience with the game. Particularly clever people may be able to solve the games puzzle with less difficulty, although the game gives you very little direction as what to do next. Its all about thought.
You’d have to be a cold hearted gamer not to get some form of pleasure out of this game. Its humour, puzzles and story will charm you from beginning to end. Although there will be times you’ll consider giving up, when you just can’t figure out what to do with that comb full of lice, but you’ll pull through. The Curse Of Monkey Island is one of the finest games Lucasarts has to offer, and one of the best point and click games ever made. It’s in my Top 5 favourite games of all time, and I’m still holding out for Monkey Island 5.