Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Game 43: The Secret of Monkey Island - Insult to Injury

Guybrush Threepwood Journal Entry 5: "Yes! I defeated the Sword Master and passed the second trial in the process! I really need to thank Captain Smirk for teaching me how to use the sword, but more importantly, for letting me know the true secret to combat success...being a complete smart ass! I'm really close to becoming an official pirate now, particularly as I successfully broke into Governor Marley's house. If only I could get my hands on that damn idol..."

It sure sounds more important than Stan's Used Boats!

It was during my last post that I saved myself any further embarrassment by figuring out what the deal was with the red herring. This breakthrough allowed me to pay the troll’s toll, and therefore to cross the bridge that was separating me from the rest of the island. I was feeling pretty excited by that stage, as I felt I was close to finding Captain Smirk and getting the sword-fighting training that I needed to defeat the Sword Master. Before any of that though, it was time to check out Stan’s Previously Owned Vessels. I vaguely remembered Stan playing a significant role at some stage of the Monkey Island series, but as with everything else, my brain just wouldn’t let me grab onto anything specific. Stan didn’t appear to be around right now though, as there was a sign on the door that said “WELCOME TO STAN’S PREVIOUSLY OWNED VESSELS! I’m off searching the globe right now for the finest in previously-owned marine transportation. Have a look around, I’ll be right back!” I tried opening the door anyway, but it was locked. There were a bunch of boats surrounding the little shack, but I decided to concentrate on the vending machine with the word “Grog” on it, clearly taking off the style of the Coca Cola logo. Looking at that machine gave me a rundown of the items held within: “Grog, Diet Grog, Cherry Grog, Grog Classic, Caffeine Free Grog, and Root Beer.

Ooohhhh, I've got to get myself some of the caffeinated stuff!

I tried using my pieces of eight on the grog machine, but no matter how many times I did it, a coin would enter the machine and nothing would come out. Hmmm…what would I do in the real world if this occurred? I’d give the thing a good shove! I tried pushing and pulling the machine, but still no success. It was at this point that I thought about trying to use some of my inventory items on other items I already had. I hadn’t actually considered doing this yet, so thought perhaps something might stand out. Interestingly, when I used the yellow flower petal on the stewed meat, it combined into one item called “meat with condiment”. This certainly wasn’t going to help me with the grog machine situation, but it got me thinking about the dogs outside Governor Marley’s house. I’d been able to throw the meat to the dogs, but they’d simply eaten it with no ill effects. Perhaps adding the flower petal to the mix would have an effect? The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced it would work, and yet I couldn’t recall being told what exactly the yellow flowers could be used for (only that it was illegal to pick them). I was keen to go back and try out my new theory, but thought I would check out everything there was to interact with on this screen first. There were a variety of boats to investigate, but Guybrush’s descriptions ranged from “Dull, dull, dull” to “Now that’s a nice-looking vessel”. I imagine this last one would be the one I would eventually buy passage on.

What's stopping me from just taking it now? I'm a pirate after all!

There didn’t seem to be anything else to do, so I raced back to Governor Marley’s and gave the meat with condiment to the deadly piranha poodles. They ate it as before, and then quickly passed out! LucasArts made sure I didn’t feel offended by their fate. “IMPORTANT NOTICE: These dogs are not dead, they are only SLEEPING. No animals were harmed during the production of this game.” With the dogs finally out of the way, I entered the house for the first time! Inside I found a lavishly furnished hallway, with a priceless vase on a table and a painting of a man on the wall. When I took a closer look at the painting, Guybrush had the following to say: “I don’t recognise the man, but that looks like the dog in the bar.” That seemed important, but I couldn’t think of how the dog in the SCUMM Bar could play a role in proceedings. Further along the hall I found a small library, but couldn’t find any way to interact with the books within. There were two doorways leading off the room (excluding the main entrance), with one being right near the front and the other at the top of the stairs at the back. I decided to try opening the one towards the front, and on finding it unlocked, walked through into the room beyond. As I did so, Fester Shinetop waltzed through the front door, clearly aware that I’d broken in. “This looks like a job for Fester Shinetop!” He followed me through the door...

Somehow sleeping piranha poodles still sounds eminently dangerous.

The Governor sure is loaded!

Surely there's time for a couple of chapters of Treasure Island!

I just noticed the connection to Uncle Fester, what with the bald head and all.

In an interesting turn of events, I wasn’t witness to all that occurred in the room beyond. It was clear that Fester and Guybrush got into a lengthy scuffle, with words like “WUMP”, “OW” and “KABOOM” flying across the screen Batman style. This could have been quite a frustrating approach, as I couldn’t see what was happening, but it turned out to be a classic moment in adventure gaming. I was able to see exactly what Guybrush was doing by watching the actions he selected in the menu. It’s tough to get across just how funny it all was, but I’ll give a rundown of the main events. Command: “Look at tremendous yak.” Result: “It’s a big, ugly, hairy yak wearing some wax lips.” Command: “Push tremendous dangerous-looking yak.” Result: “I can’t move it.” Command: “Pick up staple remover.” Command: “Use staple remover on tremendous dangerous-looking yak.” At this point, Guybrush crashed through the wall, grabbed a book from the library called The Manual of Style, then dived back into the action. Command: “Pick up wax lips.” Command: “Pick up gopher repellent.” Command: “Use gopher repellent with gopher.” Command: “Use gopher repellent with another gopher.” Command: “Use gopher repellent with gopher horde.” Command: “Use gopher repellent with funny little man.” Command: “Look at fabulous idol.” Result: “It’s beautiful!” Command: “Open lock.” Result: “I can’t open it.” Command: “Pick up heavy chair.” Command: “Use heavy chair with sheriff.” After all this, Guybrush came out through the door at the top of stairs, announcing the status of the situation: “That should hold him for a while! If only I had a file I could get the idol!”

I guess pulling the wax lips off required a fair amount of force!

A gopher horde! We're all screwed!

Looks like my battle with Shinetop is To be Continued...

So after all that, I’d gained a staple remover, a Manual of Style, some wax lips, and some gopher repellent. If I was going to steal the idol, which was the purpose of my visit to Governor Marley’s house, I was going to have to get my hands on a file to pick the lock. I had a pretty good idea what one of the new items could be used for, so I made my way back to the prison. I gave the gopher repellent to Otis. He was grateful: “Hey, this might work on the rats! Thanks! Here’s the cake.” Cool, so I now had a carrot cake. What on earth was I going to do with that?! I looked at the other items I’d gained, trying to think of where they might be useful, but I came up with nothing. Oh well, they could wait. There was still one location on the map that I hadn’t visited yet, which was the house just to the east of Stan’s Previously Owned Vessels. I made my way over there, and was thrilled to find the sign out the front read: “Captain Smirk’s Big Body Pirate Gym. Sword Training 30 Pieces o’ eight. Canon Firing 160 Pieces o’ eight (balls extra). Grappling Hook 130 Pieces o’ eight (hook extra)”.  Finally I’d found Captain Smirk, and would hopefully be able to get the combat training I so badly needed! I knocked on the door, and Captain Smirk answered in his own special way: “What do you want, you wimpy little spineless maggot?” I informed him that I wished to be trained to defeat the Sword Master. It was clear that he doubted my potential. “Better than the Sword Master? You? Ha ha ha! You could never be HALF the sword fighter Carla is.”

Gee, thanks!


That may be so, but I do have one thing you don't have buddy!

I spent the next period of time convincing the Captain that I did have what it takes to defeat the Master. This involved repeatedly saying “I do so!” to his recurring “You do not!” until finally he conceded that he liked my spirit. I gave him the 30 pieces of eight the sign demanded, and then showed him my sword. I was ready, so we went inside his gym and got started immediately. Guybrush waved the sword around in an attempt to impress his trainer. It didn’t: “Boy! You fight like a dairy farmer! I usually don’t waste my time with vermin like yourself. But seeing as this LeChuck thing has put a cramp on business, I’ve got no choice. I need the money.” Captain Smirk then informed me that he was going to have to take extreme measures. He was going to have to put me up against...THE MACHINE!  He wheeled out a device that appeared to be made up of a spring-loaded boxing glove, a bucket, a can, and a monkey! Guybrush trained against The Machine for many hours before finally Smirk informed him that he was “starting to get the hang of it”. A few hours more and he was actually getting good! It was only then that Captain Smirk informed him of the real trick to combat. “Now I’m gonna let you in on the true secret of sword fighting. Sword fighting is kinda like making love. It’s not always what you do, but what you say. Any fool pirate can swing a sharp piece of metal around and hope to cut something, but the pros, they know just when to cut their opponent with an insult.”

A particularly skillful and vicious dairy farmer right?!


Really? Well, I guess that Sword Master was a bit of alright!

I might not recall very much about my original play through of The Secret of Monkey Island all those years ago, but I do remember trying to defeat pirates with cutting insults. Good times were ahead! Captain Smirk decided to test out my insult ability by repeating his previous affront: “You fight like a dairy farmer.” Sadly, the four responses I had to choose from were 1. “Oh yeah!?” 2. So’s your mother. 3. “I am rubber, you are glue...” and 4. “You must be thinking of someone else, I am not a farmer.” Clearly none of these options were going to do me any good, but I chose to bring his mother into it. As expected, my return “insult” didn’t impress him, and Smirk taught me that I should have responded with something like: “How appropriate. You fight like a cow.” He threw another insult at me: “Soon you’ll be wearing my sword like a shish-kabob!” I could now choose the cow response he’d just taught me, but that obviously wasn’t going to work in this instance. I chose it anyway, and after some justified mockery, Smirk told me I should have said: “First you’d better stop waving it around like a feather-duster.” He suggested I go out and learn some real insults, and sent me on my way! I’d wondered earlier in the game what role all the wandering pirates would play. Now I knew! I confronted dozens of them, causing a fight by anoouncing: “My name is Guybrush Threepwood. Prepare to die!”

You're a dairy farmer!

It's not quite as impressive as Inigo Montoya, but it will do.

To win a battle I needed to make three strong moves against a pirate before they could do the same to me. To push them back I had to either throw an insult at them that they had no decent reply to or respond to one of their own insults with an appropriately cutting retort. Losing a contest didn’t result in any actual physical harm (just harm to Guybrush’s pride), nor did winning one damage the defeated pirate. The only way to learn the correct response to each insult was to say it to a pirate that knew it, so it took a while to collect all the possible insults with all of their respective counter-insults. Finally one of the pirates raised his hands in surrender and said: “Wow! You’re good enough to fight the Sword Master.” I thought perhaps I would need to return to Captain Smirk’s gym to get his approval, but there was no answer to my knocks. I therefore set out for the Sword Master, assuming that she would fire off a bunch of insults I’d seen plenty of times already. I confronted her with my Princess Bride quote and she appeared unfazed: “Nothing like being honest. I can tell by the sarcastic expression on your face that you’ve been fully trained by Captain Smirk. Let’s get this over with.” To my surprise, the Sword Master spat out an insult I’d not heard before: “My last fight ended with my hands covered with blood.”

Oh he's good. He's very good!

I guess we'll soon find out!

Hey! That's not fair! I've never heard that one before!

I was put off-guard, wondering whether I was supposed to have had more training before confronting the Master. I looked at my available responses, and decided to try one that seemed a good fit: “I hope now you’ve learned to stop picking your nose.” I felt pretty damn satisfied to see Guybrush force Carla back with a few swift thrusts. Carla: “I hope you have a boat ready for a quick escape.” Guybrush: “Why, did you want to borrow one?” Carla: “I usually see people like you passed-out on tavern floors.” Guybrush: “I’m glad to hear you attended your family reunion.” Carla: “I’ve got the courage and skill of a master swordsman!” Guybrush: “I’d be in real trouble if you ever used them.” Carla: “If your brother’s like you, better to marry a pig.” Guybrush: “You make me think somebody already did.” I’d not seen any of her insults previously, but in each case, one of the responses I’d learned through fighting wandering pirates was a perfect fit. The Sword Master conceded! “OK, you win. Well...I hope you’re happy. You can go back and brag to all your friends about how you beat the Sword Master. You’ll need proof. Here, this should convince them.” She gave me a T-shirt that read “I beat the Sword Master” to go with my other Legendary Treasure of Melee Island T-shirt. I’d now passed two of the three trials! All that was left was to find the file I needed to get the idol and Part One would be complete...

I found fighting pretty much impossible until I noticed the blue arrows on the left that let me scroll through dialogue options. They're really hard to see!

You actually got T-shirts made up? Not very confident for a Sword Master are you?!

Session Time: 1 hour 00 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 40 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. File location hint: Nfx lbhefrys, ubj jbhyq n qbgvat nhag frag n svyr sbe ure arcurj gb trg bhg bs cevfba?

  2. Of all the things TSoMI did right, just think of the cleverness and ingenuity required to make a concept like the insult swordfighting (and you've compressed in a few paragraphs what actually takes quite a bit of "learning") work as well as it does here.

    A prime example of how "they don't make them like they used to". LucasArts not only introduced dynamic dialog choices, they completely subverted them at the same time and clearly had a lot of fun doing it. And that off-screen fight? Priceless.

    1. Yeah. That off-screen fight is one of my favourite moments in gaming.

      And I agree, Trickster, that it's tough to get through how funny it is by just reading about it. So I found some videos...

      If anyone wants to see it for themselves.

      Here's the classic version:


      And the special edition version with voice acting:


  3. Re: the yellow flowers. There's been some ROT13'd discussion about how the clues provided for the poodles puzzle seem rather scarce and/or unfair. But now I wonder if the game's choice of words, by making picking them "illegal", is not a subtle clue pointing to their opioid properties.

    1. So I didn't miss some hint that the flowers would put the dogs to sleep? I thought I must have!

      I don't think I'd call it an unfair puzzle, since as soon as tried combining the petal with the meat, I knew that it would work on the dogs. I think the game gave me enough info to know the flowers are dangerous, without spelling it out. Was a tough one though.

    2. You did miss a hint, but a rather obscure one for native English speakers :-)

    3. I actually stumbled on a different method. You can use the flower petals on the stew, and then dip the meat into the stew. Voila, sleepy stew meat.

  4. I finished the game (again) a week ago, but reading your experiences just makes me want to play it again.

    1. I hope you don't mind that I'm really dragging it out. I'm taking my time with this one. :)

    2. You should not be in any particular hurry, especially as the next game will make your teeth cringe.

    3. There's only two wrong answers to the question "How much time do you spend on Monkey Island?": "Not very much" and "None at all". ;)

      Take your time, I just keep forgetting how good the game actually is.

  5. Gevpxfgre yrsg fgrnyvat gur vqby nf gur ynfg gevny... abj ur'yy zvff n znwbe vzcbegnag fprar. :-(

    1. Vs lbh qba'g yrnir gur vqby dhrfg nf gur ynfg bar, n phgfprar jvyy gnxr cynpr nsgre rfpncvat orvat gvrq gb gur vqby haqrejngre. Rynvar fubjf hc naq gurl unir na npghny ebznagvp zbzrag. Ohg whfg nf gurl'er nobhg gb xvff, fur yrnirf naq gryyf Thloehfu gb pbzr gb gur znafvba nsgre ur pbzcyrgrf gur erznvavat gevnyf. Ohg vs gur vqby dhrfg vf gur ynfg gevny pbzcyrgrq, nsgre pyvzovat hc sebz gur jngre gur tnzr jvyy vafgrnq pbagvahr fgenvtug gb gur phgfprar jurer YrPuhpx'f fuvc fnvyf gb gur ubevmba naq gur ybbxbhg gryyf lbh gung Rynvar unf orra xvqanccrq.

      Urer'f gur fprar jvgu Thloehfu naq Rynvar:


    2. Unun! V gbgnyyl erzrzore gung fprar, gur zhfvp, gur fbnc-bcren npgvat. Vg vf vaqrrq n funzr Gevpx jvyy zvff vg. V jbaqre vs abg trggvat gur fprar jvyy znxr gur ebznapr frrz gbb bhg bs yrsg svryq sbe uvz, be fhqqra (abg gung vg gbbx gung zhpu sbe T&R gb snyy va ybir naljnl...)

    3. Qnza vg. V yrsg vg hagvy ynfg fb gbgnyyl zvffrq gung fprar. Gur ebznapr qbrfa'g ernyyl frrz yvxr vg'f gurer ng nyy ernyyl hagvy gur raq fprar fbeg bs, ubjrire V qvq jbaqre jul Thloehfu sryg fb fgebatyl nobhg fnivat Rynvar

  6. Hmm, seems like you might have stopped fighting random pirates before you collected all of the insult retorts. But you did manage to beat Carla easily enough. I'm not sure how exactly that works, if you go to her right away after seeing the message about being good enough to beat her if she just won't use insults you haven't seen or not. But I know in my playthrough just now, after I saw that message I continued to fight and kept getting new insults until I got all of them.

    Here's the complete list: http://www.worldofmi.com/gamehelp/insults/mi1.php

    1. Carla's insults are all new however the correct responses are al ones you learn for other insults. When you have all the responses you need, then the game tells you you're ready

    2. That's not totally true. The game tells you to fight her after you have won three fights with the pirates. She even tells you so if you try to fight het before that. I'm guessing that guarantees a minimum of answers learned, but in any case Carla uses all of her repertoire indepently of how many insults you know. You can beat her without knowing them all, it's a matter of Luck.

    3. That's not totally true. The game tells you to fight her after you have won three fights with the pirates. She even tells you so if you try to fight het before that. I'm guessing that guarantees a minimum of answers learned, but in any case Carla uses all of her repertoire indepently of how many insults you know. You can beat her without knowing them all, it's a matter of Luck.

    4. Has anyone tried fighting the swordmaster and then going back and using her insults on the random pirates? :)

    5. Yes, they something to the effect of, "no fair using the swordmaster's insults!"

    6. The previous time I played the game I made sure I had all the insults and retorts before meeting the Swordmaster, writing them down and keeping track and everything.
      This time around I didn't, and got unlucky with the insults she threw at me, thus having to go back and pick up some more retorts. Of course I couldn't resist trying out the new insults on them, but as Zenic said, they just whine and give up.

    7. I think I am on the minority, as I am not so keen about the whole insult collecting scenario. Sure, it's a nice play on old swashbuckling films, but after the first few laughs, I found it a bit tiresome to just travel from pirate to another and hope for new insults...

    8. I guess that then begs the question, Ilmari! Would you have preferred the insult fighting had they instead made it work a little differently? Say, instead of the pseudo RPG progression of learning insults and counters via grinding, you were given a pair of fetch quests for both culminating in a word fight with Carla? I think that even by this point in adventures, they were already looking for ways of breaking the monotony of "find item/go back and use item in fairly obvious place once acquired", making this appealing to many who had been playing adventures for many years prior. The only other real alternatives before MI have been combat (Neuromancer/QFG) gambling/skill games (LSL/PQ) or arcade sequences (hated by all.. The first would be SQ I guess, with the speeder?)

    9. It could have been at least shorter... I think in a later Monkey Island -game you could just skip the "fight scenes", if you wanted, right? And for the replayers, who had already collected the set of insults once, there could have been a possibility to, say, write an insult yourself: a really simple parser recognizing the correct insults would have sufficed to make this work.

    10. I dont like it either. When I was really young and couldn't understand English very well, I played the game more for the sense of adventure than the humour. I had my parents explain to me some important parts of the plot. Needless to say, the swordfighting bit was absolutely tedious.

  7. Might be spoilerish, so rot13:

    V'z n ovg qvfnccbvagrq ng gur tnzr qebccvat gur vafhyg srapvat pbzcyrgryl nsgre orngvat gur fjbeq znfgre. V gubhtug vg jnf n prageny gurzr gb gur frevrf naq jbhyq pbagvahr guebhtubhg gur tnzr. V unira'g pbzcyrgrq gur tnzr lrg gubhtu, fb V thrff vg pbhyq fgvyy pbzr vagb cynl.

    1. Vafhyg fjbeqsvtugf jvyy or onpx va Phefr bs Zbaxrl Vfynaq.

  8. For those who have played through the game, Ron Gilbert did the same about 20 years after he made it, and wrote down his thoughts about the game, puzzles etc. It's fascinating to see his insights, what he would want to change, what he now thinks worked and not.
    WARNING, SPOILERS: http://grumpygamer.com/8280380

    For instance: "Most people know you can hit the period key to skip a single line of dialog, but I'm surprised when I run into people that don't know why I chose the period key. It seems obvious to me: a period ends a sentence."

    1. It seems Gilbert himself agrees with Ilmari on the sword-fighting... and I would also tend to agree. Some of the lines are very funny, but hunting down enough to beat the sword master does feel a lot like busy-work.

      It certainly set it apart from the crowd though.

      "V yvxr gur jnl lbh zrrg Bgvf, Fjbeq Znfgre naq Zrngubbx qhevat erthyne chmmyrf, gura uver gurz yngre" (sbe gur perj)
      Gung'f abg gehr jvgu ertneqf gb Zrngubbx gubhtu, vf vg? V qba'g guvax gurer'f nal ernfba gb frr uvz ng nyy hagvy lbh arrq n perj zrzore.

    2. The period key doesn't work in the floppy versions of Monkey Island 1, and there doesn't seem to be any way to skip single lines of dialogue unless I missed something. But you can in the CD version and Monkey Island 2 (and all later LucasArts games).

  9. Some sales you lot might like:

    King's Quest™ Collection: http://store.steampowered.com/app/10100/
    Do I really need to sell you on this one?

    Space Quest™ Collection: http://store.steampowered.com/app/10110
    See previous answer.

    Too bad by buying them you are giving money to one of the worst publishers around, but hey.

    Those are all part of the Activision sale, so 18 sales, 11 new games.

  10. As an aside, Trick - how IS -Gu-brush doing? (It popped up very noticeably when I decided to open the page on my mobile.)

  11. Visual novels don't count, right? Then I won't tell you about Cinders.

    HOWEVER, Humongous Games have added a bunch more games to Steam:
    Pajama Sam 2: Thunder and Lightning Aren't So Frightening
    Freddi Fish 2: The Case of the Haunted Schoolhouse
    Freddi Fish and Luther's Water Worries
    Putt-Putt® and Pep's Dog on a Stick
    Spy Fox 2 "Some Assembly Required"

    As a bonus, if you already have the Humongous Entertainment Complete Pack you get all 27 games, even the ones not yet on Steam. http://store.steampowered.com/sub/42723/

    18 sales, 16 new games (Or 12? Whichever I'm willing to play any one of these alongside or for Trickster).

  12. I just realized I hadn't posted the EGA version of Smirk and probably should do so.


    They look very similar. It could be that they started drawing on top of EGA closeup instead of redrawing it from scratch. The smoke in his cigar is missing in the CD version by the way.

  13. I knew what the carrot cake was for immediately! My penchant for very old school comedy (Laurel&Hardy, Three Stooges, etc) let me in on that joke instantly.