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 and...um...eyes...to 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!
Hmmmm...how 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!