Curse of Monkey Island
Easily one of the greatest and most entertaining point-and-click adventures ever.
Most people associate Lucas Arts with their legendary Star Wars games, but a great many fondly remember them for their pioneering animated adventures – Sam & Max, Full Throttle, The Dig, and, of course, the unmistakably funny Monkey Island series. The late nineties saw a return of the series after a prolonged hiatus, and the resulting product reviewed herein is not just a legitimate continuation of the series, but a game so funny, gorgeous and clever that it might be one of the best animated point and click adventures ever made.
High Simian Adventures on the Open Seas
You play as lovably inept pirate-wannabe Guybrush Threepwood, who finds himself drifting aimlessly in the ocean in a gorgeously animated opening cutscene. The ending from the second Monkey Island is conveniently forgotten, and our bumbling hero now finds himself washed in the middle of a pitched battle between his arch nemesis, the evil-undead-zombie-pirate LeChuck, and the love of his life – Elaine Marley. The initial act serves to familiarize one with the gameplay, interface and setting, but the story really picks up when Guybrush unwittingly curses Elaine with a diamond ring that turns her into a solid gold statue. Your quest shifts to saving Elaine.
The game is superbly structured into six acts, but still allows for quite a lot of freedom between chapters as you progress through the many inventory-based puzzles that can mostly be solved in any order. The second act, where you must find a suitable crew, ship and map to sail to a remote island, serves as the best example. Gameplay is fairly straightforward, and people who are even marginally familiar with point and click adventures should feel right at home.
You enjoy quite a lot of interaction with the environment, as Guybrush can examine, talk or interact with numerous items of interest, regardless of whether they’re essential to the story or not. Although puzzles enjoy some internal logic, you will end up carrying all manner of silly and apparently useless junk with you, including, but not limited, to chicken grease, dandruff or smelly dog hair (hey, who doesn’t need smelly dog hair, right?). Even so, getting stuck isn’t a common a hazard as you might expect, as a little exploration and experimenting usually gets things going.
After the first couple of acts you’ll come across some light arcade open-sea ship fighting and good old swashbuckling fun. The ship battles are quite easy, but feel oddly out of place, whilst the swashbuckling parts (basically a re-write of the insult mini-game from Monkey Island 1) feel hilariously right at home, raiding pirate ships and dueling it out with captains for treasure and glory.
The actual swordplay requires you insult each other with witty remarks back and forth, but here you need to rhyme the comebacks for them to count. So if a scurvy dog says to you “Every enemy I have met, I’ve annihilated!” you could reply “With your breath, I’m sure they all suffocated”. With his ego destroyed, Guybrush bags the treasure equips his ship with better cannons from a seedy child merchant voiced by Gary Coleman. Awesome.
Just about everything in this game is awesome. The painstakingly hand-drawn visuals look absolutely charming, and their computer-animated inhabitants fit in nicely as well. The voice work is both funny and clever, and the soundtrack’s a pleasure to listen to. The interface is effective. If there’s anything worthy of complaint, it would be the few kooky puzzles and the game’s odd tendency to keep puzzle items far beyond their intended purpose (I’ve found that about 50% of my inventory crossed over towards the end of the game for no reason). It’s a confusing oversight, but a tolerable one nonetheless.
If you want to experience a funny, witty and charming animated adventure, look no further. Even people that don’t normally play point-and-click adventures should enjoy a good laugh and plenty of mellow, well-thought-out gameplay here!
System Requirements: Windows 95/98, 16 MB RAM, 90 Mhz CPU
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