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ups: Great Jokes, Running Gags, spoofs, anachronisms, art style is still unique, puzzle solutions still befuddle me with humor
downs: 16 years old graphics are outdated, sound in the version I had didn't work

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That Retro Review: The Secret of Monkey Island
game: The Secret of Monkey Island
posted by: Chris Martin
publisher: LucasFilm Games (LucasArts)
developer: LucasFilm Games (LucasArts)
date posted: 02:39 PM Fri Sep 8th, 2006
last revision: 02:39 PM Fri Sep 8th, 2006

Click to read.Game Stats:

Released: 1990

System: PC & Macintosh (originally on floppy disc, currently available on CD), Atari ST, Amiga, and SegaCD.

Created By: Ron Gilbert

The game in a nutshell:

You\'re Guybrush Threepwood, a mighty pirate! No, actually you play this wannabe pirate in a frilled chambray that goes around trying to prove his mettle to the inhabitants of Melee Island. Well, it isn\'t all swords-n-swashbuckling: the Ghost Pirate LeChuck, due to an overzealous crush, captures Governor of Melee Island Elaine Marley and takes her to Monkey Island (dun, dun, DUN!!). But Guybrush is in love with her too. So he decides to put together a buccaneer crew, buy a ship, and venture to Monkey Island in search of his love: Elaine.

The game, like all the Monkey Island games, is put together in chapters. The Secret of Monkey Island has 4 parts ? well, three parts and an epilogue of sorts. In part 1 \"The Three Trials\" Guybrush is trying to become a pirate and needs complete three tasks. First (1) get a sword, train, and challenge the Sword Master, then (2) steal the idol of many hands from Governor Marley\'s mansion, and then (3) dig up the treasure in the forest. Of course, after all that, you\'ll have to go to Stan\'s Used Ship Emporium and buy a ship to make the long journey to Monkey Island. To get the boat you need to use trickery, piracy, pirate trickery, and, most important of all, a long line of credit.

Part 2 \"The Journey\" is mostly a transition period between Part 1 and Part 3. Read that sentence again. Here Guybrush has to make a soup that knocks him out and sends the hapless crew in the correct direction. When he wakes, he jumps in the cannon and shoots himself to Monkey Island (dun, dun DUN!!).

In part 3 \"Under Monkey Island\" Guybrush meets some vegetarian Cannibals, a shrunken head with a necklace, and, in what will be a running gag through the series, the second biggest monkey head he\'s ever seen. Eventually, you get the shrunken head (the navigator) to guide you to the ghost underworld under Monkey Island to find the voodoo root. After the voodoo lady ? stop me if you\'ve heard this one ? makes the root into a ghost-killing root beer, Guybrush finds out that the ship left port so LeChuck can marry Elaine. So it\'s back to Melee island!

Part 4 ? that epilogue I mentioned ? is entitled \"Guybrush Kicks Butt.\" Guybrush Threepwood basically goes through the town on Melee Island and spritzes all the ghosts and saves the day. But not before running to the church and shouting \"ELAINE!!\" in one of the best parodies of \"The Graduate\" in the history of parodies of \"The Graduate.\"

What\'s the big deal?

Monkey Island, for me, has always been about the running gags, the subtle, subversive inside jokes, and the insult sword fighting. This was way back when LucasArts (back then called LucasFilm Games) didn\'t just make Star Wars games. Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman...this is an all-star lineup of writers/developers who have since then gone on to create some amazing games (Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, etc). Creator Gilbert originally conceived The Secret of Monkey Island as a serious game, but when writers Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman spent their time scripting placeholder dialog while working on game interactions, things changed dramatically. When he saw that it was good, Gilbert decided to make The Secret of Monkey Island a comedy. That\'s why there are all sorts of purposeful anachronisms and references to popular culture of the late 80s.

Secret of Monkey Island also spawned a play of the same name. And you can watch it on Youtube in parts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7.5, 8, 9).

How has it aged?

Graphically, the game doesn\'t have a stool to stand on, but as Guybrush in MI2 says, \"I don\'t mess with another man\'s stool\". Many gamers, today, would have difficulty sitting down to the Secret of Monkey Island simply because the graphics look outdated. But Ron Gilbert\'s series has always been about the jokes, the puzzle-solving, and character (not necessarily development), and not the graphics.

The sound wasn\'t present in the versions I had. The version I was playing came in a bundle of the first three games and they had to ditch most of the sound effects for the bundle. Lame, I miss MIDI!

But the game itself still holds up long after the graphic adventure heyday. In fact, many of the jokes just get better with age, like a fine pinot noir, or jokes about George W. Bush. Actually, I find myself laughing more now than when I was eight years old. There is so much to like about The Secret of Monkey Island, especially for an older crowd with fond memories of playing graphic adventures when they were young, that anything but playing is really a disservice.

Where can I get it?

Pick it up here on fileplanet, or ? if you need the physical game ? find it in the consignment bin of your local video game store.

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