Friday, 18 April 2014

Game 43: The Secret of Monkey Island - Risk and Reward

Guybrush Threepwood Journal Entry 3: "There sure are some strange characters on this Melee Island! Outside of the village I've held conversations with the lookout (an old man that keeps watch for who knows what), the Fetuccini Brothers (two brothers that run a circus in the middle of nowhere), Meathook (a man with hooks instead of hands that lives in an ex-tourist establishment), and a troll (who was, as you might expect, guarding a bridge). It was at the circus that I found what I was looking for though...a way to earn some coin! I was extremely lucky not to die in the process, or at least break a few bones, but I managed to get 478 pieces of eight for just a few seconds work! That should be enough to buy the tools I need to have a crack at passing the three trials. Back to the village I go!"

Right. Let's see what else is on this island!

So my last post finished with me facing off against a horde of demonic poodles outside Governor Marley’s house. I’d thrown the stewed meat to them, which they’d eagerly devoured, but hadn’t noticed any effect from the action. I pondered what else I might be able to give some dogs that might draw their attention away long enough for me to pass, but couldn’t come up with anything I’d seen so far. This meant that my initial exploration of the Melee Island town was now complete! However, the town was only a small part of the island, so it was time to widen my exploration range. I made my way back up the mountain path to where the game’s introduction took place.  The old man was still staring out over the cliff face, and once again he was completely unaware of my presence. I had a bunch of great dialogue options to say to him, but whichever one I chose, the result was me scaring the crap out of him! “Yikes! You almost scared me to death. I thought you were a – never mind.” He then went into a spiel about how silly my name was: “You want to be a pirate, boy, take my advice. Change your name. Try something like Dreadbeard or Six-fingered Pete.” At this point Guybrush finally asked the man who he was: “I’m the lookout of Melee Island. I watch the ocean for approaching storms and ships, and report them directly to the Governor. She doesn’t like unexpected visitors… especially not now.”

That must be a riveting job. Wouldn't you rather be a pirate?

I was happy to see that one of my dialogue options was the question that was foremost on my mind. “How did you get to be the lookout when you’re obviously blind as a bat?” Unfortunately, the lookout only told me to watch my tongue, and that he’d been handpicked by Sheriff Shinetop. I then asked him why the Governor was so worried about unexpected visitors, although I knew the answer of course. “Actually, it’s the EXPECTED visitors we’re worried about. One pirate captain in particular, a dead one, but that doesn’t make him any less dangerous.” After exhausting my options, I left the lookout and walked off to the right of screen. I was given a top down view of the whole island, with certain important locations lit up in a really neat way. As I moved my cursor around I could see Guybrush, the village, the lookout point, a fork in the path, a clearing, a bridge, some lights, a house, a shore, and an island. I couldn’t really remember what was waiting for me at any of them, so I chose one at random (the clearing). When the little Guybrush figure reached that part of the map, the standard side-on view returned. I was in the thick of the woods, and had stumbled upon the circus I’d seen advertised in the village. I had little doubt that this particular circus would be far more entertaining than the one I'd experienced in Les Manley a month or so ago.

This is the greatest in-game map in gaming history. No, you're right. It's probably not. I just wanted to emphasize how much I like it.

By now LucasArts had perfected night time environment through the use of black and blue.

Oh-oh! I'll surely be shoveling shit shortly? (CAPs to anyone that can say that 5 times quickly!)

I entered the large tent, and there I found two very colourful gentlemen chatting about the cannon I could see in the bottom right corner of the screen. Man in Pink: “I’d get in the cannon, but the gunpowder makes me sneeze.” Man in Green: “Well, I can’t do it, I hurt my hand taming the lions last week.” Man in Pink: “I hardly think that little scratch compares to my chronic allergy. You get in the cannon.” Man in Green: “You don’t have any allergies, you faker. YOU get in the cannon.” They went on like this for some time, calling each other all sorts of names in the process. Eventually I was given some dialogue options, one of which included the LucasArts regular, “I’m selling these fine jackets”. I chose simply to clear my throat, and this interruption caused the two men to come charging at me, clearly sensing an opportunity for someone else to fulfil their desire. It turned out these two carnies were called the Fettucini Brothers. The pink one was Alfredo, and the green one Bill. The brothers tried their utmost to convince me to get into the cannon, which they would then fire across the room. I of course wanted to know what was in it for me, to which they answered: “How about 478 pieces of eight?” That was more than I’d hoped for, and would allow me to buy the sword, the shovel, and the map from the mysterious man on the corner, and still have a heap of coin left over!

Ahhh, brotherly love!

It's the once in a lifetime bit that has me worried!

I agreed to the stupid stunt, at which point Alfredo asked me whether I had a helmet. I didn’t of course, but I had something I figured would make do, so answered in the affirmative. I gave them the pot I’d picked up in the SCUMM Bar kitchen, and they seemed to think it was more than adequate. I hopped into the cannon head first, with my makeshift helmet on, and was immediately, and violently, shot across the room! The helmet flew off my head halfway across, and I slammed into a pole, sliding down to the ground where my cranium copped another heavy knock. The Fettucini Brothers were delighted! Alfredo: “It works!” Bill: “I’m so relieved!” After they finished congratulating themselves, they wandered over to see if I was alright. I chose to respond to their uncomforting questions with “I’m Bobbin. Are you my mother?”, which somehow convinced them that I was fine. They gave me the 478 pieces of eight as promised, and I was on my way. As tempting as it was to go back to the village and stock up on items, I decided to explore the map as much as I could with what I currently had. I made my way to the fork that was not too far away, taking a path leading out of the first screen at random. I reappeared in another woodland screen, where some bright yellow flowers caught my attention. I picked up a yellow petal, and then attempted to take the path leading away to the north. Guybrush turned to me and announced he wouldn’t go “into this mazelike forest without a map or a guide or something”.

Seriously, what could go wrong!?!!!

Unusual indeed! Not sure how they appear yellow in the dark.

He said the same thing when I tried to leave the screen to left. It looked like this section of the map was off-limits until I had the map that would lead me to the Legendary Treasure of Melee Island! With that path blocked, I attempted to head north up to the shore and the island. What I haven’t mentioned so far is that there were other pirates wandering around the map, and I’d managed to avoid them to this point. This time I ran straight into one, and my view switched to a side on one. I was now confronted by a spiky haired pirate, who demanded I “move outta the way, or I cuts my way through!” I responded by mentioning how nice a night it was, hoping that would settle the situation down. It didn’t, and he aggressively enquired as to why I’d stopped him. My only option was to ask him why he talks so funny, but instead of this comment firing him up, he merely explained that it was “pirate lingo”, and that I should play along. That was the extent of the conversation, and I wondered if there would be anything of value to discuss with a wandering pirate at any stage in the game. Anyway, now that he was out of my way, I continued on to the area entitled “The Shore” on the map. Said shore ended up having a large, flashy sign pointing to a house across the water. The sign read “Visit Fabulous Hook Isle”, and suggested there would be Restrooms and Souvenirs for visitors. A flying fox (as in a cable running between two elevated points), ran between the shore and the island where the house was situated.

Had a good giggle at this one.

Shorely there'll be something interesting here! Hey, I'm a dad! I'm allowing to tell horrible jokes!

This screams tourist trap!

I was able to climb the ladder up to the cable, but there was nothing to swing across on. The solution was obvious though, and I formed the sentence “Use rubber chicken on cable”, then watched as Guybrush swung himself across the water to the island. Satisfied with my work, I entered the house on the hill, having no idea what to expect. Inside I found Meathook, an ex-pirate that very noticeably had two hooks where hands used to be. “Hey! I don’t like visitors! Who are you?” That wasn’t the welcome I was hoping for, but I decided to be nice…for now. “Excuse me, but the sign said there were restrooms in here?” Meathook informed me that the sign was a little out of date, and that his tourist business had been closed since there was “a little accident with one of the trained animals, and one of our guests was hurt very badly”. He went on to tell me that the beast that did the mauling was now his only company, and that by coincidence, it was identical to the one that took his hands when he was a child. Strangely, he failed to mention what type of animal it was, leaving my imagination to run riot. This was all well and good, but I had little idea what I might be able to achieve in his home. I decided to try insulting him, since there were plenty of juicy options available to me. I went with “I’m a pirate, cannonball-head. Who are you?” Clearly he was an emotional guy, as my insult actually upset him. “My name’s Meathook, and I think you’ve got a little attitude problem.”

I think I'll need that restroom after this!!!

Why do I get the feeling that "monster" is going to turn out to be a cuddly bunny with sharp pointy teeth?

My insult had opened up further insulting dialogue options, so I decided to run with it. Guybrush: “Well, I think you’ve got a little hair problem.” Meathook: “Geeze! You just don’t know when to quit, do you?” Guybrush: “Obviously, neither did your barber.” This last insult pushed Meathook over the edge, and he kicked me out! I walked back in to see what would happen. “I suppose you’ve come to invade my peaceful home and insult me again, eh?” This time I decided to take a different approach, and apologised for my earlier behaviour. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to call you cannonball-head.” This seemed to appease him, and when I laughed along with his joke about my pony-tail, he finally decided I was alright after all. “Hey, you’ve got a pretty good sense of humor. Want to see something really funny?” As tempting as it was to ask whether it would be a picture of his whole bald family, I responded that I really did want to see whatever it was he thought was so humorous. To my surprise, he said “Say hello, Roger!”, and then the skull tattoo on his chest said “Hello, Roger” in return! Either this guy’s tattoo was a living entity, or Meathook had such good control over his chest muscles that he could make it appear so. It was impressive either way, but I didn’t see how it could possibly help me. Meathook informed me that he had a whole routine, but that he didn’t have time to do it all right now. At this point I had no option but to request to see the trick again or to leave, making me wonder how Meathook will ever be of use to me.

It is pretty awesome!

With the island done with for now, it was time to go check out the southern part of the map. The first location of interest there was a bridge, and it was there I discovered a strange looking creature blocking my path! Trolls have often guarded bridges in stories over the years, demanding payment before they’ll let journeymen passed, but I hadn’t expected to find one in The Secret of Monkey Island. I guess it wouldn’t be completely out of place, given that the main villain is an undead pirate. Perhaps it’s a man in disguise? I had plenty of dialogue options after he demanded a toll, but I decided to go with “Stand aside, troll, I’m a mighty pirate.” The troll was unperturbed by my threat, saying: “You’re no pirate! Why, the town drunk could out-insult you on his back!” He was proved right, when the best response I had was “Stick it in your ear, you great green garrulous grub!” In the end I had no option but to ask how much the toll would be, with his response being “Well, what have you got?” I offered him all sorts of things, but he wasn’t interested in any of it. “I want something that will attract attention, but have no real importance.” Whatever it was that he wanted, I clearly didn’t have it. This meant I’d explored as far as I could outside the main village of Melee Island, since the locations past the bridge were currently unavailable to me. It was time to head back to the village with my newly claimed cash. Hopefully the items I buy will help me to have a bit more success passing the Three Trials.

What is this? King's Quest?

You're a fussy troll, you know that!?

Session Time: 0 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Game 43: The Secret of Monkey Island - Deadly Piranha Poodles

Guybrush Threepwood Journal Entry 2: "I've got to get my hands on some coin! The local store has a sword and a shovel for sale, both of which could really aid in completing my trials, yet there's no way I can afford them! There's also a shifty looking weirdo on the street corner selling maps to the treasure, but once again my lack of coin is blocking my path to piracy. At least I know where the Governor lives, but getting past her vicious dogs could be tricky. Oh well, the creepy voodoo lady said my journey would be long. I'll just have to keep trying..."

Ah...I forgot all about the LucasArts cutscenes!

I’m still very much in the exploration phase of Monkey Island. My first post was taken up almost entirely by the game mechanics and basic story introduction, so I’ll try to push some ways forward with this one. As I stepped out of the SCUMM Bar, aware that I needed to pass The Three Trials if I had any chance of becoming a pirate, I was witness to the game’s first cutscene. “Meanwhile, deep beneath Monkey Island, the ghost pirate LeChuck’s ship lies anchored in a river of lava.” That’s right, one of the most famous villains in gaming history was introduced right here, scheming aboard his ghostly ship! Suitably, his first words are “Ah, there’s nothin’ like the hot winds of hell blowin’ in your face. It’s days like this that make you glad to be dead.” It’s in this cut scene that we’re also introduced to LeChuck’s first mate, the one-legged skeleton, Bob. We quickly learn Bob’s origin story as LeChuck asks him if he too feels glad to be dead: “Oh yes sir. I feel so lucky that you happened to capture my ship, then murdered me and everyone on board...yes sir...lucky.” This is the type of humour that I love, and it comes thick and fast whenever these two are on screen. In fact, it’s really not very difficult to tell that both The Secret of Monkey Island and The Pirates of the Caribbean came from the same source, as Hector Barbossa and LeChuck have more than a little in common.

You're just not evil unless you have a ghost pirate ship anchored in a river of lava!

Especially when you don't have one!

Bob has clearly disturbed LeChuck for a reason, and that reason turns out to be Guybrush. “Well, you see, we might have a problem on Melee Island. There seems to be a new pirate in town. Actually he’s a pirate wannabe. Young. Inexperienced. Probably nothing to worry ‘bout. Don’t know why I bothered you with it. I’ll have him taken care of myself.” LeChuck isn’t entirely satisfied with that solution though, and decides to take care of the situation himself. “My plans are too important to be messed up by amateurs.” With that, I was thrust back in control of Guybrush, knowing that I now had an undead pirate pursuing me! I walked to the right of screen until I reached the main street of the town. There I found a shifty looking character standing on a corner, with a parrot on his shoulder. I wandered up to talk to him, and he had the following to say: “Excuse me, but do you have a cousin named Sven?” I chose to answer “What is that? Some sort of code?”, to which he answered “Of course it’s a code, you idiot...never mind.” Clearly I wasn’t the idiot, as when I approached him a second time I was able to totally fool him with the dialogue option “My cousin Sven sends his regards.” The moron was then willing to do business with me, opening up his jacket to reveal a bunch of maps. “You want to buy a map to the Legendary Lost Treasure of Melee Island? Only one in existence. Rare. Very rare. Only 100 pieces of eight.” I of course didn’t have any money, so had to decline his offer for now.

I'm pretty sure pirates don't take baths anyway.

Ah I see! Well in that case...

Is the trademark symbol a joke or were LucasArts really trying to protect their fictional property?

Making my way further into the main street, I was confronted by a small company of pirates known as the “Men of Low Moral Fiber”. There was a rat sitting in front of them, and making any attempt to interact with it was met with threats of physical violence from one of the crew. I asked them why they were sitting on a corner, and not “on a ship, looting, pillaging, sacking, that sort of thing”. They responded as expected, claiming that there were “some UNNATURALLY talented pirates in the area right now”. Clearly LeChuck’s presence was making all the other pirates in the area nervous! I can’t remember if it has any relevance to the game’s main story, but talking about the rat caused one of the men to tell me a tale about a bunch of monkeys that crewed a ship all the way to Melee Island from Monkey Island. Once that was completed, I questioned the troupe about the shifty looking man that was selling maps on the corner. “Wanna buy a map, eh? OUR maps are top quality, not like the birdcage liners you get from that clown across the street. No, just kidding. These are actually copies of the minutes of the last meeting of the Melee Island PTA. Can’t even GIVE them away. Want one?” Never one to turn down the addition of an item to my inventory, I decided to see if I could make an even better fist of it. “No, but I’ll take one if you give me two pieces of eight.” Unsurprisingly, given the intelligence level of the pirates I’ve met so far in the game, they accepted, resulting in me gaining both the minutes and a couple of coins.

It's great to be able to say whatever you want to, with no fear of repercussions.

My progress is assisted by the fact the game's pirates have the IQ of a goldfish.

Moving my cursor around the screen at this point revealed that there were numerous doors that I could enter. Some experimentation revealed that most of these doorways rather impossibly led to others elsewhere on the screen. Walk through a door on the left and reappear through one on the right! Still, there was one entrance that led somewhere of interest, as I found myself in a room containing various voodoo paraphernalia. Dead chickens hung from the ceiling, and the shelves were lined with jars of bat drippings, boxes of assorted scales, cat knuckles, and a shaker full of monkey flakes. Guybrush wasn’t willing to touch any of it, and who could blame him! However, on the table I discovered a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle, and this item I was able to pick up. To the right of screen I came upon a large dark skinned woman sitting before a bubbling green cauldron of sorts. “What may I help you with, son?” I had quite a few options at this point, but I decided to own up about the chicken I’d just stolen. “Aaaahhhh, I sense the guilt of stealing my chicken grows. Take it. It’s yours.” This answer concerned Guybrush, and he asked why she was willing to give away the strange device. Perhaps it was jinxed with an ancient voodoo curse? Her answer was simply that the pulley squeaks, which made me chuckle. At this point the voodoo lady apparently figured out that my name was Guybrush Threepwood, at which point our greedy protagonist demanded to know his future. “Am I going to be rich?”

Well seriously, who puts a pulley system inside a chicken?!

She's good...but far from perfect.

The cauldron began to rise out of the floor, soon revealing itself to be in the shape of a huge blue skull with piercing red eyes. My fortune was read to me… “I see you taking a voyage, a long voyage. I see you captaining a ship. I see a giant monkey. I see you inside the giant monkey. Your journey will have many parts. You will see things better left unseen. You will hear things better left unheard. You will learn things better left unlearned.” Guybrush demanded to know more details, but the mysterious woman denied him: “NO! The time is not right to know. When you know your purpose, come see me. I will let you know then.” With that, the cauldron descended back into the floor, and the voodoo lady simply vanished before my eyes!!! Departing her creepy abode, I made my way through the archway beneath the large clock at the end of the main street. I was given a bird’s eye view of my new location, which contained a large building, a church, an alleyway leading off beneath them, and what looked to be a prison. As soon as I arrived, someone could be heard (not literally of course, as the game has no voice acting) tempting me to enter the alleyway. “Psssst. Come over here.” I decided, since I was standing right next to the entrance, to enter the building to my right before putting myself into what would likely be a dangerous situation. The building turned out to host a store, with a grumpy old man attending the counter.

Oh god, this reminds me of Les Manley! Aaarrgghhhh!!!!!

Yep! It's Madame Zarmooska!

Well, sure! I can't think of any reason not to!

Moving my cursor around the room revealed I could interact with a shovel, a safe, a handle on the safe, and a sword. Given that two of the Three Trials I had to pass were defeating the Sword Master and discovering a legendary lost treasure, the shovel and the sword seemed very useful. I took a closer look at them and found them to be the “DIGMASTER – The only shovel for serious treasure-hunting enthusiasts” and the “SLASHMASTER – When you want a sword as sharp as your wit.” I picked them both up and walked to the counter to see how much they would set me back, knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to afford whatever the asking price was. Before I did that though, I noticed one of my dialogue options was “I’m looking for the Sword Master of Melee Island.” I was pretty keen to find out where I could locate this so called Sword Master, so I took that option. “The Sword Master of Melee Island? Hmmm…I don’t know…nobody knows the whereabouts of her secret hideout…nobody except me. I’d have to go and ask her if it’s okay to show you the way. Hmmm…I guess I could hike all the way over there…ONCE,” The old man put a “Ring bell for service” sign on the desk and left the building, stopping to tell me in no uncertain terms not to touch anything. I figured this would be a good time to check out the safe, so made my way upstairs. The large box had “Davey Jones Lockers: The last word in theft-, fire-, and grog-resistant storage devices” marked on it, and the handle had “Get a handle on your savings with GRIPMASTER handles.”

I imagine this sword would be useless for the pirates I've met so far.

I keep warning people not to tell me that!

I tried opening the safe, but wasn’t at all surprised to find it locked. I turned the handle a few times, and despite a strange noise being heard when it reached a north position, couldn’t achieve anything. I’m really surprised how little I remember from playing Monkey Island as a kid. Parts like this are just completely gone from my memory! I can only assume there’s a specific “combination” to open the safe, but I have no idea what’s in there. Giving up, I tried to leave the store with the sword and shovel still in my possession, only for the old man to suddenly reappear. “Caught you, you little thief! Maybe you’d like to pay for those?” I asked him how much each of them cost, and he informed me that the sword would be 100 pieces of eight, the shovel 75, but since I couldn’t afford either of them, I put them back in their original places and departed. I still had the alleyway, the church and the prison to check out, so I figured it was time to see who’d been trying to draw me into the alley. As Guybrush walked into it, he called out “Hello? Anybody in here? HELLO???” There didn’t appear to be anyone there, but then a bald headed pirate-looking man entered the alleyway the same way I had. “You know, bad things could happen to a person in a dark, deserted alley like this one. And at this time of night, nobody would be around to see it.” This seemed a threat to me, so I chose to respond with “Yeah, and bad things happen to people who sneak up on other people from behind.”

Uuuummmmmmmmmmm no!

Please don't let the clown come to life! Oh please!

Yeah, like they a chicken with a pulley in it thrown at them!

The guy clearly wasn’t impressed by my attitude, but I decided not to back off. “I’m Guybrush Threepwood, and I’m a mighty pirate.” It was then that the potential combatant informed me of his identity: “I’m the sheriff around here. Sheriff Fester Shinetop. Take it from me – This is a bad time to be visiting Melee Island. A very BAD time. My advice to you is to find somewhere else to take your vacation. Somewhere safer.” The Sheriff left me feeling somewhat uncomfortable, but I figured I should concentrate on examining the alleyway. Who had called to me earlier? Surely it wasn’t the Sheriff?! I looked around, but could only find a poster for the circus on the wall and a sign on a door that read “Employees Only”. I chose to move onto the church, rather than stand around with nothing to do. Strangely, after entering the church, I found there was nothing to do there either! I could walk down the aisle, but pixel hunting didn’t reveal anything at all that I could interact with. I made my way back out onto the street, and then entered the last remaining building on the screen, which looked to be a prison. On entering it I found that my assumption was correct! There were two cells, with a rat wandering around in one and a man pacing back and forth in the other. I didn’t seem to be able to do anything with the rat, so I focussed on the prisoner.

What came first? The name or the shinetop?

Either I didn't pixel hunt well enough or whatever happens here happens later.

What's the point of putting bars on the windows and then leaving the front door open!

As I approached him, he pleaded with me: “You gotta get me out of here! I’m a victim of society.” Guybrush proclaimed that the man must also suffer from halitosis, as he clearly had shocking breath. “Hey, it’s hard to keep my breath minty-fresh when there’s nothing to eat in here but rats.” I tried giving the guy some stewed meat, but he responded with “I don’t want anything but my freedom...and maybe a breath mint.” I couldn’t think of anything else to do, so I departed the prison and walked through the archway to the left of the bird’s eye screen. I was now following a very dangerous looking path, which wound its way around a cliff face, ending at a mansion. On arrival it was clear that this house belonged to Governor Marley, since the dogs I’d been warned about were tied up out the front. However, they weren’t the large terriers I’d expected. Marley’s dogs were nothing but small yapping poodles! Still, any attempt to get past them to the mansion’s entrancefailed, as Guybrush refused to go near the canines, no matter how fluffy. In fact, trying to interact with them revealed that they were “deadly piranha poodles”, proving that looks can often be deceiving. Interestingly, I was able to throw the stewed meat to the dogs, but they simply ate it, with no apparent benefit for me. I still wasn’t able to get past them, making me wonder whether I’d just wasted the meat for nothing. Despite knowing there are no dead ends in The Secret of Monkey Island, I decided to restore my game anyway and continue my exploration elsewhere. Join me in a few days to find out how I fared...

You could at least floss with the whiskers!

Wouldn't want to try to get home after a big night!

And you want to be a pirate!!!???

Session Time: 0 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 0 hours 50 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Game 43: The Secret of Monkey Island - A Herring!

Guybrush Threepwood Journal Entry 1: "I'm one step closer to fulfilling my dream of being a real pirate! I met a bunch of them today in some scummy bar, and everyone directed me to a threesome of unexpectedly cheerful ruffians in the back room. It was them that informed me of the three trials I must pass to become a pirate! All I need to do is defeat the Sword Master in combat, steal the Idol of Many Hands from the Governor's mansion, and find the Legendary Treasure of Melee Island. Shouldn't be too hard right? Right?!"

Seems a nice place to spend the next few weeks.

The entertainment started the moment The Secret of Monkey Island launched. Even as the title screen appeared and the credits began to pop up one at a time, a huge smile burst across my face. It’s the music I tell you! The Monkey Island theme song, with its Caribbean influence, is utterly delightful. It’s one of those tunes you catch yourself humming hours after playing, but instead of shaking your head in annoyance of a tune you can’t get out of your head but wish you could, you find yourself embracing it all over again. Moments after the credits had finished, Guybrush Threepwood appeared on a cliff top, already dressed in clothes befitting his desired occupation. The dark blues that made up the landscape and the majority of the sky immediately reminded me of Loom, which shouldn’t surprise given the same company was behind that other classic game. Guybrush strolled across the screen and stopped in front of a fire where a bearded, bespectacled man was looking out across what I assumed must be the ocean. “Hi! My name’s Guybrush Threepwood, and I want to be a pirate!” That one statement was everything I needed to know to get going. There was no need for any longwinded introduction. The bearded man, who seemed to have great trouble remembering what Guybrush had just said his name was, informed our wannabe that he looked more like a flooring inspector, but that he should go and talk to the pirate leaders in the SCUMM Bar if he was serious about becoming one of them. With that, Guybrush left him to whatever he was doing and descended the stairs to the south.

As you can see, I did end up deciding to play the VGA version.

I really can't remember whether this guy plays any further role in the game.

As he did so, large blue writing appeared announcing that I was about to partake in “Part One: The Three Trials”. Control was handed over to me as Guybrush left the descending pathway and passed between two quaint, candlelit houses. The list of verbs at the bottom of the screen was very familiar, but I’ll quickly describe two seemingly minor changes that make a huge difference to the game’s playability. Firstly, moving the cursor over an item that Guybrush can interact with automatically lets the player know what it is. There’s no need to click on a “Look” style verb first to examine a screen. Just start looking! Secondly, once you do cross over something that can be interacted with, the most obvious verb is automatically highlighted on the list. Even then the player still doesn’t have to click it, as simply right clicking on the item sets the action in motion. To give you an example of this in action, moving my cursor over the poster on the wall automatically created the sentence “Walk to poster”, but highlighted “Look at”. If I clicked the left mouse button on the poster, Guybrush would walk towards the poster, as that’s what the current sentence stated would happen. If I right clicked on it, Guybrush would look at the poster instead, as the verb in the action sentence would be replaced by the highlighted one. It’s extremely intuitive and means the player really can just concentrate on solving puzzles rather than fighting the interface. In case you’re wondering, the poster read “Re-elect Governor Marley”, to which Guybrush remarked: “When there’s only one candidate, there’s only one choice.”

Part One: The Thr..oh you guys are perfectly capable of reading!

Ever wondered where the Adventure Gamer images came from? Well now you know!

I crossed the bridge to the right of screen and soon arrived at my intended destination. The SCUMM Bar! Inside were a whole variety of pirates in various states of intoxication. I began trying to talk to them, finding that the ones closest to the door were completely unconscious. The man in the red jacket just to the right of the entrance was responsive though, and my attempt to converse with him gave me a close-up for the extent of the exchange. He asked me whether I was new in town, at which point a fairly extensive list of responses appeared at the bottom of the screen. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade had already introduced branching dialogue options, but they were fairly limited in their use. They appeared for only a few specific scenes, and the player had to figure out the exact combination of responses that were required to achieve their goal. What I was confronted with in Monkey Island took that system and turned it into what we still see today in modern adventure games! There’s no wrong answer, and the player can generally pick anything from the list and just enjoy the consequence, whether it be positive or negative. Once the result of a chosen option has completed, the list pops back up, with the exception of the previously chosen response. To make things even better, once the player has run through all the available options, instead of being given a list that contains nothing more than a “Nice talking to you” type response, Guybrush instead automatically makes his leave. It’s incredibly slick, and encourages playful insults and humorous jests, generally without penalty.

The interface is so simple that it took me a while to get used to it!

On second thoughts, pirating doesn't look all that glamorous anymore!

There's a lot of blue in this game. Even facial hair has a blue tinge to it.

Before I continue I’d like to state that there’s no way I intend to describe the entire conversations I hold with each of the game’s characters. The branching dialogue system means I will be reading a lot of dialogue, and while I wish I could relay all the hysterical and entertaining banter that I’ll come across, I’ll be limiting things to story progression and specific gems of hilarity. It didn’t take long for one of these gems to arrive! After the pirate in the red jacket suggested my name was “the stupidest name” he’d ever heard, he then revealed that his was in fact Mancomb Seepgold (think about it!). When I informed him that I’d come to Melee Island seeking my fortune, he told me I “should go talk to the important-looking pirates in the next room”. I asked him about Governor Marley before I followed his advice, and he told me that her mansion could be found on the other side of town. He went on to warn me that pirates are no longer welcome at her place since the last one that had visited her had fallen in love with her. There was clearly more to the story, but Mancomb suggested I talk to Estevan at “the other table” to find out more. When I followed this lead and found the rather unattractive one-eyed Estevan, one of the dialogue options I had was “Who’s the pirate that’s bugging the Governor?” No doubt this option would not have been there had I not already spoken to Mancomb, which highlights another great addition to the LucasArts dialogue system.

Just as in Loom, there's no real animation to the closeups. Each character has a few different images that change depending on what they're saying.

Perhaps I have too many teeth be a pirate!

Estevan told me about the evil pirate LeChuck, and how the Governor told him to “drop dead” when he tried to crack onto her. In an attempt to impress the Governor, LeChuck sailed off to find the Secret of Monkey Island, only for his ship to be sunk in a mysterious storm. Somehow, despite the entire crew dying during the tragedy, LeChuck returned as an apparition, and continues to sail the waters between Melee and Monkey Island. It’s for this reason that Estevan and all the other pirates are spending their time on land rather than on the open sea. Interestingly, when I asked about getting a drink, Estevan told me I should grab a mug and sneak into the kitchen when the cook wasn’t looking, as that’s what everyone else did. Before I even considered attempting such a feat, there was one last table of pirates I needed check out. There I met Cobb, who those of you that have played Loom, or read my posts about it, might recognise. This was the guy that offered to let me look into the sphere if I would just let him see my face. I hadn’t witnessed his demise, as my view had switched to outside the castle at the time, but his screams and the fact he was never to be seen again suggested something horrible. I was very interested to find out how he ended up on Melee Island, so I asked him to “tell me about LOOM”. The guy launched into a longwinded spiel about Loom as a masterpiece of gaming, while the word <ADVERTISEMENT> flashed in green at the bottom of the screen. It seemed that Lucasarts had finally outdone Sierra on the cross-selling leader board!

Everyone seems terrified of LeChuck, and with good reason.

It's amazing what you can get away with if you do it in a clever way.

While Cobb gave me nothing of any real value, the small canine on the ground next to him was very willing to gossip about everyone and everything! Our conversation would have held much more value however, if we’d both been able to speak the same language. Dog: “Woof-woof arf woof warroof, Melee Island! A-ruf wuf LeChuck! Grrrrrr! Guybrush: “Wuf, LeChuck?” Dog: “Worf woof woof ruff-ruff wor-roof wuf? Ruff arf-arf, bow-ruff Governor Marley! A-OOOOOOO! A-OOOOOOO!” Comedy gold if you ask me, but let’s get onto more important matters! Leaving the screen to the right  brought me to the “important-looking pirates”. These guys had a habit of finishing each other’s sentences and showing great concern regarding the increasingly low state of grog in the SCUMM Bar. Initially my suggestion that I wanted to be a pirate was met with derision, but as soon as they remembered that the cause of the “dangerously low” grog level was a lack of willing pirates, they became more agreeable. They told me what I would need to do if I were to become the pirate I so desperately wanted to be. “There are three trials every pirate must pass. You must prove yourself in each of these three areas: swordplay, thievery, and, er, treasure huntery; then return with proof that you’ve done it.” Thankfully I was able to ask them questions about each of these trials.

I don't know why I found this so funny.

I want to restore, just to see what happens if you pick the first option.

Shit just got real!

To master the sword I must get a sword (obviously), then seek out and defeat the Sword Master. To master the art of thievery I must acquire the Idol of Many Hands in the Governor’s mansion (which is guarded by vicious dogs). Lastly, to master treasure hunting, I must find the Legendary Lost Treasure of Melee Island and return it to them. I could recall trying to outsmart the Sword Master from my previous experience with the game, but the other two tasks tweaked no memories at all. I turned my attention to getting into the kitchen, since I’d noticed the chef going in and out during the course of my time in the bar. I waited for him to vacate it once again, and then attempted to enter. He briefly reappeared to tell me very directly not to enter the kitchen, but I of course ignored him. I must say how great it is in a game like this to know there is no way to die or dead end yourself. The player can try anything at all, no matter how risky or stupid it seems, with the worst that can happen being a humorous slap on the wrist. Once in the kitchen I found I could interact with a hunk of meat, a barrel, a pot, a table, a pot o’ stew, and outside on the small pier I could see a herring. I quickly discovered that I could pick up the hunk of meat and the pot, but didn’t appear to be able to do anything with either the barrel or the table.

These guys find themselves to be quite amusing.

If you tell me not to do something, it just makes me wanna do it real bad! very hygienic!

Using the hunk of meat on the stew was successful, and I was then able to collect some of the resulting meat stew. Oddly, I picked up this stew on its own without using the pot, so I had no idea how Guybrush was actually holding it. Regardless, with that all sorted, I walked outside to see if I could get the herring. As I did so, a bird flew down and began pecking at it. Any attempts to pick up the fish were met with “I think that bird will peck my hand off”, and since I wasn’t able to interact with the bird itself, I was at a bit of a loss as to how I might acquire it. Eventually I realised I was being had! The fish was both a literal and the proverbial red herring!!!! *facepalm* Laughing, I left the fish behind and made my way back through the SCUMM Bar. It was time to explore more of Melee Island, and to pass the three trials and become the pirate I’d always wanted to be. I realise I haven’t covered much ground in this opening post, but it’s not unusual for me to only cover about thirty minutes while I describe the technical aspects of a game and cover off the initial plot introduction. It’s already very obvious why The Secret of Monkey Island is such as classic though. It’s polished, original, gorgeous, and damn entertaining, right from the get go, and I can’t wait to get back into it and relive the adventure as though it were the first time.

Indeed it is, and a red one at that!

It's time to go pass some trials!

Session Time: 0 hours 20 minutes
Total Time: 0 hours 20 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!