Review by MrSid
The Secret of Monkey Island is a graphic adventure game released and published by by Lucasarts in 1992. The main designer and creator was Lucasfilm employee Ron Gilbert. He was apparently bored of the adventure games that ended when you died. He wanted to create a game where it was impossible to die and the gameplay solely revolved around exploration. Released on various platforms, most notably on DOS and Amiga, it was the first point and click adventure that really made me aware of the genre and was a massive commercial success for Lucasarts. It used the now legendary SCUMM engine which was tweaked from previous releases to make the gameplay better and more user friendly.
You play a young aspiring pirate called Guybrush Threepwood. You arrive on Melee Island in the Caribbean and start on your quest to become a pirate. Whilst on this quest you fall in love with the governor of the island called Elaine Marley who is then abducted by ghost pirate bad guy Le Chuck. You must then scour the Caribbean in search of Le Chuck, defeat him and save the governor. Standing in your way though are an endless series and puzzles. Not dissimilar to the concept of the old dizzy games, you pick up objects and work out where to use them but on a much grander scale. You must talk to people, ask the correct questions to gain information to progress. Using the curser you must also examine all areas of the screen as even the smallest cluster of pixels may contain a clue.
The Secret of Monkey Island is memorable for it’s fantastic storyline and also the humour. The plot is full of tongue in cheek humour and slapstick moments. This really adds personality to Monkey Island and makes solving the puzzles fun. One of the first objects you pick up is a red herring fish which has no use but I can remember been a naive 11 year old trying to work out for ages how to use this red herring! Also a good example of the humour is when you must defeat fellow pirates in a sword fight by trading insults. You must learn all of the insult comebacks to defeat the pirates. One of my favourites is ‘I’m not going to take your insolence sitting down!’ followed by ‘Your hemorrhoids are flaring up again, eh?’. Great fun.
More recently, The Secret of Monkey Island has been released on iOS which was a fantastic updated version. It stayed faithful to the original but felt fresh and modern. This is a real testament to how well it has aged. The humour does not feel out dated and cheesy. The touch screen interface works perfectly for these type of games so this version is also well worth a look.
As with games this large back in the day, The Secret of Monkey Island was spread over 4 floppy discs which meant that a certain amount of disc swapping was a necessity. Instead of using a mouse I can remember using a trackball alot at this soty of time which made controlling the cursor and examining around the screen really easy.
Back in the day when I first got Monkey Island on my Amiga I think I must have lost hours, weeks and even months to playing it. The storyline ingrosses you it’s hard to put down. Some parts later in the game had me stuck for ages and took a long time to work out what to do. Sadly no google back then.
Lovely detailed graphics full of charm. To me it really felt like a story book. The graphics were colourful and really well drawn. The background are full of intrigue and look really interesting. As you progress the graphics change through lots of different styles which adds real variety.
Simply stunning soundtrack. I use the word ‘soundtrack’ because it feels like a film score. The music adds real atmosphere and drama. I think I’m right in saying that certain PC versions had speech throughout in the talking sections (I may be wrong there). To be honest, in the realms of possibilities on the Amiga, the sound is probably pretty simplistic but it complements the gameplay without interfering with it.
As ive said above, you control a cross hair with the mouse which you can use to make Guybrush perform certain actions. At the bottom of the screen is your inventory and the actions. These actions include talk, walk to, pull, push, open, close and look at. You must use these actions with objects or people around the screen. Playability wise it’s a dream to control. The whole point and click SCUMM engine is really simple to get into. As with these sort of games there is a lot of walking around involved. Going back and forth through the different screens, backtracking on yourself and constantly going back over trodden ground just to check you haven’t missed anything can get pretty tedious as it can take a lot of time exploring.
The Secret of Monkey Island has stood the test of time. The recent iOS version hasn’t lost any of its charm. If anything I prefer playing it with a touch screen as its really intuitive. I had even forgotten a lot of the puzzles so it felt like a real challenge again. Monkey Island spawned a whole series of clones that emulated this formula.
Groundbreaking game that goes down in history as a real classic. Teenagers and adults from that generation will have fond memories of trying to solve the puzzles and defeating Le Chuck. Guybrush Threepwood has become a bit of an icon in adventure gaming world which just goes to show how immensely important this game was. It will keep you hooked right from the start. At times you will want to throw your mouse out of the window but the sense of achievement you get when you finally crack a puzzle is worth it.
I would find it hard to believe if you had never played this game but if you are in this minority, I urge you to give it a go. Also, the sequel: Monkey Island 2 is even bigger and better than this one and well worth a download also from the Apple Store or via emulation.