Saturday, 24 May 2014

Game 43: The Secret of Monkey Island - Bite of the Navigator

Guybrush Threepwood Journal Entry 11: "As if having to board a ghost ship in search of a voodoo root isn't horrifying enough, to even get there I had find my way through a fiery maze filled with bloody body parts and...mushrooms!!!!!!! I hate mushrooms! To add to the creepiness, the only way to get through the maze was to follow the directions of a crusty severed head. Please be close Elaine! My feelings for you are unquestionably strong, but my bravery is being severely tested right now."

Monkey Magic...Monkey Magic...Monkey Magic...

Readers will note that I’ve had a fairly unobstructed path through The Secret of Monkey Island so far. Sure, I’ve had to backtrack a bit to find things I’d missed the first time around, but I haven’t got stuck anywhere for particularly long. That all changed with my last session! There have been two sections in Part Three where I've been pretty much stumped, with one in particular very close to making me request assistance. My last post finished with me gaining entrance to the gigantic monkey head. This one started with me wandering aimlessly around inside, trying to figure out a way to get through what appeared to be a maze of torment! It had all seemed okay to begin with. When I’d entered the monkey’s mouth, I’d reappeared in the lava filled underground where I’d seen LeChuck’s ghost ship in the cut scenes. There were mushrooms everywhere, causing Guybrush to comment: “I had a feeling that in hell there would be mushrooms.” I read somewhere that one of the three main designers really hates mushrooms, so their appearance clearly represented his feelings towards them. I walked across a couple of thin natural bridges, looking worriedly upon the horrifying faces that were frozen in agonised screams in the rock face around me. Eventually I reached a cave, and on entering it I found myself on a pathway that curved around to the south. It was there that I discovered three bloody heads emerging from the ground! I was actually grateful when Guybrush refused to touch them!

Holy testicle Tuesday Batman! Is this thing supposed to be a real monkey?

Adventure Game Competition: What one thing would you expect to find in hell? Best answer gets CAPs!

Clive Barker would approve!

I walked to the west, where I came upon two bloody hands reaching out of the ground. Once again I wasn’t able to touch them, nor was I able to interact with the numerous mushrooms that were everywhere around me. I continued on in this fashion, exiting one cave and making my way to the next one, walking past a giant nose, a dripping heart, and a hellish looking face on the way. I could find nothing to do on any of the screens, and the worst thing was that turning around and heading back in a direction I’d just come from did not take me back through the same locations. This wasn’t just another maze. It was a randomly generated one!!! There was no chance of mapping it out, and I continually found myself back at my starting point with no idea how I got there. I must have entered the maze about fifteen times, determined to find the secret to getting through, but after around twenty minutes of trying, I was convinced it wasn’t possible. The idea entered my head that I should pay the cannibals another visit. They’d told me to come and see them if I needed anything, and well, I couldn’t think of anything else to try! I found them waiting for me in their village, and things looked promising straight away: “Have you come back to let us repay you for your fine gift?” I told them I had, but sadly, my dialogue options didn’t include anything about the underground maze.


Oh come on Guybrush, stop being such a wuss. Wait...are they eyeballs? (vomits)

I want something else! *sigh* Where's the parser when I need one?!

I chose to tell them that I was looking for someone, and when they claimed to be the only civilized people on Monkey Island, I explained that I was “looking for 30 dead guys and one woman”. They quickly realized who I was talking about, and began whinging about the ghostly pirates. “Those jerks have been bugging us for months. Zooming around here in that creepy ghost ship of theirs, wailing and moaning until all hours of the morning, scaring away all the cruise ship business. Normally, when we have problems with the undead, we just cook up our standard potion of exorcism and be done with it.” This of course got my attention, and I asked them why they didn’t do that this time. “Well, the main ingredient of the potion is a very rare root. In fact, there’s only one in existence. We only use a little bit at a time you see. But LeChuck stole the whole thing!” I asked them where LeChuck was hiding the root, and it was then that the conversation went in the direction I’d hoped it would. “He’s in a place beneath this island. Somewhere in a huge system of catacombs...a hellish place filled with the wailing of tortured souls trapped forever in the rock... where the walls bleed and the air is thick with the rancid smell of pure evil.” Yep, that sounded like the place I’d just been exploring! I asked the cannibals why they didn’t just go and kick LeChuck and his crew out of the catacombs, but they explained that they’d loaned their key to the Monkey Head to Herman, and that he hadn’t returned it.

Doesn't everyone do this?

Crusty old pantless weirdo. Yep, that pretty much sums up Herman.

Just when I thought the conversation would result in something useful, I found the only dialogue option I had left was “I’m off to find LeChuck and get the root”. Thankfully, when I chose it, the cannibals informed me that it wouldn’t be as simple as that. “Trying to find LeChuck could be very dangerous. You’d never find your way through the catacombs without the...” Suddenly Red Skull interrupted Sharptooth, who was clearly about to tell me exactly what I needed to know: “Ixnay on the Eadhay of the Avigatornay!” I understood his pig Latin, and responded in kind: “Oday ouyay avehay away apmay ofway ethay atacombscay?” (For those of you that don’t know pig Latin, this means “Do you have a map of the catacombs?”) They didn’t have a map, but the cannibals did have some sort of head, which used to be attached to a navigator, and which they’d kept alive magically so they “could take advantage of its innate sense of direction.” They claimed that it was impossible to get through the catacombs without the head of the navigator, which explained why my attempts had been so futile. As exciting as this revelation was, the cannibals refused to give the head to me, since it was the only one they head. I tried giving them back their key, since I’d recovered it from Herman in exchange for his banana picker. They were very grateful, but still wouldn’t give me the damn head!

Caption contest

At this point I did what any decent adventurer in need would do. I begged! When even that failed, I began looking through my inventory, trying to give random items to the cannibals to see what would happen. To my great surprise, when I gave them the pamphlet, which was one of the bits of seafaring literature that Stan had given me after our sale was complete, Red Skull accepted it! “Well, look at this. It looks like instructions on how to get a head!” I scoured through my older screenshots, trying to find out what the pamphlet’s title had been. It was “How to Get Ahead in Navigating”! I hadn’t looked at the literature in quite a while, so no wonder I hadn’t thought of the title when needed. I guess this was a clever little puzzle, but I doubt I was the only one that stumbled on the solution by accident rather than through any sort of logical deduction. Regardless, the cannibals seemed very pleased with my gift: “We could give him our head, and use these instructions to get ourselves a new one!” They gave me the navigator’s head, at which point I was shown a close up of it. I immediately recognised it as the image I’ve been using for one of The Adventure Gamer "annual" awards (The Severed Head Tag). I wish I’d called that award The Head of the Navigator TAG now.

Um...yes...the aahhh...feeling's mutual...

Interestingly, Red Skull told me that they’d been keeping the head wrapped in a magical necklace (that was made up of eyeballs), which makes the head invisible to ghosts. Invisibility to ghosts seemed a very useful skill to have given my quest, but in the short term I was much more interested in navigating my way through the catacombs. My conversation with the cannibals finished with them telling me to return the root to them if I could manage to retrieve it from LeChuck. “We’ll mix up a batch of our special, enzymatic ghost-dissolving solution. You can pour it on LeChuck like salt on a slug!” Feeling quite chuffed with myself, I rushed back to the Monkey Head and entered with my newly gained navigation tool. As soon as I was in the catacombs, I tried using the head. This caused Guybrush to hold the head out in front of him, but nothing else happened at this point. I tried using the necklace, but was told I couldn’t while I had the head whipped out. I put the head away temporarily and tried using the necklace again, only to be informed that I didn’t need it as there were no ghosts around. When I wandered into the maze itself, the head of the navigator began swinging around to face the direction that I needed to go in. Awesome! Surely things would be straight forward from here, right? Nope! On that very first screen I found that the head was telling me to go left, only to say right when I took a couple of steps in the suggested direction. It seemed to want me to get myself across to a piece of rock that was floating in the middle of the lava!

This has to be the best maze-solving device in the history of games.

Seriously, make up your mind!

Clearly, wading through lava wasn’t an option, so I eventually ignored the head and made my way to the screen to the east. From here on in I had a bit more luck. There were plenty of times where I was asked to go back in the same direction I’d just come from, but that made sense when I remembered that each screen was randomly generated. After a couple of minutes of moving from one screen to the next I finally arrived at LeChuck’s ship! Putting the head away, I climbed onboard, assuming that Guybrush would make some attempt to do so stealthily. Nope! He climbed up right next to four undead pirates, including LeChuck’s first mate Bob. They were playing instruments, and as soon as I walked a couple of feet, the music ceased. Bob confronted me, clearly wondering why someone would be so stupid to board the ship of the mighty LeChuck. I announced that I’d “come to interrogate the prisoner”, hoping they might be as stupid as they looked. Sadly they weren’t, and Guybrush was forced to make a quick retreat back up onto the cliff overlooking the ship. I figured the necklace that the navigator was wearing would be the key to avoiding the undead, since the cannibals had informed me that it made the navigator itself invisible to ghosts. I tried to pick up the necklace, only for the navigator to tell me I couldn’t have it! I’d had no idea that the severed head could speak at this stage, so this defiance came as quite a shock. I tried a couple more times, but the navigator was clearly going to be stubborn about it.

Nice head job! Um...I mean...nice job head!

Man, I'm really going to stand out as a tourist here!

Oh great! An item that refuses to let me use it!

Looking at the head turned out to be the key, as a conversation ensued. “Okay, we’re here. Now what do you want from me?” I decided to be nice, thanking the navigator for leading me to the ghost ship. His response was surprisingly sociable: “Hey, no problem. When you only have one job, you do it well. Know what I mean?” With the small talk out of the way, I asked the ugly cranium whether I could have the eyeball necklace. “No, but thanks for asking so politely. I’ve got a bad feeling about this place. I think I might need it.” I continued to ask him in slightly different ways, but clearly he wasn’t going to just hand it over. It was time to get violent, so I threatened the head with “Maybe I’ll just take it”! This unsettled him, but it took further threats of violence, including “If I wanted to I could dropkick you into the lava”, to finally convince him to hand over the necklace. As soon as I’d separated it from its previous owner, I used the necklace to put it on, then hopped back onto the ship. I was invisible! Not only could the undead pirates not see me, but even I could only see a glimmering light that outlined my body as I walked around. I was now free to explore the ship! The first thing I noticed was that there was a ghost dog blocking my way to the upper deck on the left, and a drunken ghost sailor blocking my way to the upper deck on the right. The dog lifted its head when I came near, suggesting it sensed my presence, but I didn’t appear to be able to interact with either of these accidental guards.

Well, it's time for bad cop to come out then! Don't say I didn't warn you!

By definition, I'm pretty sure ghost dogs cannot be cute!

The next thing I took note of was that there were two doors, one at either end of the deck, and a hatch leading down. I decided to try the door on the left, and suddenly found myself standing right behind the villainous LeChuck in his cabin!!! Fortunately he appeared to have no idea that I was there, which gave me the opportunity to investigate the various items in his cabin. I was told that there were “little wriggling blue hairs” in his bed, but couldn’t do anything with them. There was a map of Monkey Island on the wall, but once again I couldn’t interact with it. Of most interest to me was the key hanging on the wall, but as soon as I walked even remotely close to the captain, he turned around quickly and shouted “Who dares to enter the cabin of the Ghost Pirate LeChuck? You’d better fear.” He turned back around moments later, and since I knew I couldn’t die in the game, I tried creeping around at different angles. It became apparent that there was no way I was going to get close enough to grab the key, nor to open the chests that were sitting on the floor next to LeChuck. I left the cabin for now, intent on trying the door at the other end of the deck. As soon as I tried to open it, it creaked loudly, attracting the attention of the ghostly musicians! Bob wandered over to see what caused the sound, but since he couldn’t see me, soon went back to his fellow apparitions and continued playing.

You've got a bit of an ego there mate, you know that!?

Let's hope I find some WD40 around here somewhere!

The only option available to me was to go down the hatch, where I found a pirate ghost fast asleep in a bunk. He had a bottle of grog in his hand, but he was keeping it close to his chest. It was only when I walked across the room that his arm fell to the side of the bed, giving me a great opportunity to grab the grog. To my dismay, every time I got close to him he would pull the bottle back to his chest, only to extend his arm again as soon as I walked away. I tried a few things, but couldn’t find a way to get it. I made my way into the next cabin to the right of screen, and there I found a few ghost chickens wandering free and a couple of ghost pigs in a pen. I tried to pick up one of the chickens, but all I managed to get was a single ghost feather. As soon as I had it though, I knew what its purpose would likely be. There was more to see in my current location though, and after failing to find anything to do with the pigs, turned my attention to the glowing crate behind them. When I looked at it, Guybrush had the following to say: “I don’t see anything special about it. Except that big glowing voodoo antiroot inside.” It was the root I needed to defeat LeChuck! I highly doubted I was just going to be able to open up the crate and get it, but I tried anyway. “It’s nailed, chained, bolted, roped, glued, and welded together.” Clearly I was going to have to work hard to solve that little puzzle!

Man it would be awesome to be invisible! That's the outline of my head on the left by the way.

You can actually watch the food the pigs are eating go from their mouth to their stomach!

I still don't see why my gunpowder didn't work on this!

The only thing left in the room to check out was a trapdoor to the left of the glowing crate. Since it was also locked tight, I made my way back to the sleeping ghost pirate. As soon as I’d picked up the feather, I’d assumed its use was to tickle the ghost’s feet, as they were noticeably sticking out the end of the bed. It worked, and the ghost dropped the bottle of grog onto the floor without waking up! I picked it up, and had a think about where I might be able to make use of a bottle of grog. I couldn’t think of anything, so walked between the five screens on the ship trying to find something to do. I did this for forty minutes!!!! This was by far the most time I’d been stuck on a puzzle in The Secret of Monkey Island, and to my shame I have to admit that I finally stumbled on the solution through trial and error. I honestly can’t tell you why I didn’t think to try using the magnetic compass to attract the key hanging on the wall, but it simply never crossed my mind. I guess I’d just assumed that the compass would play a role later in the game when trying to find my way back to Melee Island, that I never thought about what other use it might have. Eventually I was convinced that getting the key was the...ahem...key to progress, so I tried using every item I had on it, resulting in the magnet drawing the key across the room and into my possession. The good news is that I didn’t need to request assistance, and am now ready to go see what’s waiting for me beneath the trap door. Oooh, exciting!

Thanks for the heads up!

I hope this stuff is better than the crap they serve on Melee Island!

Did anyone else get stuck on this puzzle? I feel a bit ashamed about it.

Session Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time: 9 hours 00 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!


  1. I've seen a LOT of playthroughs of Monkey Island, and that magnet seems to be where most people get stuck. I've seen people assume they need to be closer to use it and Lechuck keeps turning around, I've seen people use it from as far away as possible and it doesn't work...

    That and/or most people don't argue with the head all the way out to the end of the conversation tree. So, yeah, these are two common sticking points.

    1. I guess they don't make enough of a point about the strength of the magnet. It's not obvious that even a strong magnet would pull a key across a room, unless you inhabit a cartoon.

      The conversation tree one goes on a bit too long, and much like the Stan's ship extras bit, there isn't any real indication that perseverance is all that's required.

    2. Adding to the difficulty of that key puzzle was the fact that using the compass any other time didn't allow me to use it with anything in the environment or my inventory. Instead it would immediately say it points to Stan's. I wrote it off as an unusable item because of that.

      As for the head, I'm pretty sure I just kept begging (6 or 7 times I think) and eventually he agreed to let me have it. Never resorted to violent outbursts.

  2. In hell there is only dial-up internet. And someone else in the house is always on the phone.

  3. Caption Contest: It's not like you're using it.

    Hell is being made to play really bad adventure games without assistance.

  4. The one thing I expect to find in hell: Youtube celebrities.

  5. Caption contest (going for the lowest common denominator): They don't want to give head.

    1. And in hell you will find an eternal traffic jam.

  6. Aw, why not.
    In Hell, one thing you'd find is: The puzzle designers from Shadowgate. They run the place.

  7. In Hell you would find 10 foot speakers everywhere belting out nothing but Spice Girls.

  8. I got stuck in that magnet puzzle too as a little kid and had to look at a walkthrough. BTW, there's a bug (at least in the CD version) that lets you use the compass again with the key in LeChuck's room:

    There's also some funny messages when you look at enough of the deformities in the lava cavern. (If you only keep looking at a single one Guybrush won't "progress" to the next description.) Find a screen where there are two of them that you can easily walk back and forth between. Look one, then the other, then the first one again and keep alternating until Guybrush starts to say the same thing repeatedly. After several minutes the descriptions become... interesting.

  9. In Hell You Find: A copy of the best adventure games ever made, by every famous adventure game maker who has died. They all get unlimited budgets, the best dead voice actors, live actors, programmers, etc. Heck, some of the time they have live actors perform in front of you while you yell out commands. The computers to run them have more resources then all of the ones on earth. The designers have unlimited time, and have angels whoes only job it is to help the text parser figure out what you want to do and a response.

    They are all in hell, placed JUST out of reach. Sitting there, taunting you. Forever.

  10. Do you know why Hell is always portrayed as being red? It's all due to a mistake in translation.
    Hell is really using CGA high intensity palette 1, not palette 0 as everybody thinks.
    Yes, imagine Hell rendered in badly drawn 320x200 CGA light magenta! For all eternity, that's all you will ever see!

  11. Adventure Game Competition: What one thing would you expect to find in hell?

    The Prince of Darkness, on one knee, abdicating his Infernal Crown to me upon my arrival.

  12. New Kickstarter!

    Anyone played the 1st episode of "Kaptain Brawe: A Brave New World" before?

  13. The one thing I'd expect to find in adventure gaming hell?

    Les Manley and Emmanuelle creators working on a new adventure game!

  14. The ghost dog was cute in The Nightmare Before Christmas...anyway, we all know the one thing we're most likely to find in hell is bureaucrats.