Saturday, 3 May 2014

Game 43: The Secret of Monkey Island - The Plot Thickens

Guybrush Threepwood Journal Entry 6: "Damn it! I thought I'd finally made something of myself and passed the three trials, only for everything to go completely awry at my moment of triumph. Not only did Fester Shinetop try to drown me for messing up whatever plans he had for the Governor, the Governor herself was kidnapped by the ghost pirate LeChuck while I was acting out my escape. Her name is Elaine Marley, and I do believe she's the most beautiful, strong, and intelligent woman I've ever met! She was captured by LeChuck while trying to save me, so the least I can do is go after her. I realise it will very likely end in my death, but I can't just leave her with that monster on Monkey Island. I'm a fearsome pirate myself now anyway, so this LeChuck guy doesn't realise what's coming his way! Now...if only I had a crew and a ship of my own..."

Last week, on The Adventure Gamer...

So I now had two T-shirts, proving that I’d found the Legendary Treasure of Melee Island and also defeated the Sword Master in combat. The only trial left was to steal the Idol of Many Hands from Governor Marley’s house. To achieve that goal, I was going to need to find the file that was required to pick the lock on the cabinet that the idol was held within. The problem was that I’d not seen a file, or anything resembling one, anywhere in the game, and had visited all the locations as far as I could tell. I did have some new items in my inventory though, including some wax lips, a staple remover, a carrot cake, and a Manual of Style. Perhaps one of those items could help me somewhere on Melee Island. I decided the first thing I would do was head back to the pirate leaders to show off my new T-shirt. Sadly, just as with the first T-shirt, they weren’t particularly impressed: “Well, defeated the Sword Master, did ye? Ye’re a strong fellow! Ye may keep the stylish T-shirt. We have enough.” I spent some time trying to give various items to the little dog in the SCUMM Bar next, since I’d seen the same canine on the painting in the Governor’s house. I had no luck though. What was I supposed to do next? Suddenly I wondered whether the voodoo lady might now be willing to tell me my future! It didn’t seem a likely time, but since I had no other leads, I made my way to her creepy shop to find out.

These guys seem to enjoy belittling my admirable efforts.

The voodoo lady wasn’t there, but I spent some time checking out all the voodoo knick knacks that were lying around. Perhaps I could use one of my new items on something? It was at this point that I made a very lucky discovery. I’m sure everyone that has played their fair share of adventure games will have reached a stage where they start using items on other items, despite there being no way in the world it’s going to achieve anything. You know, where you start using an inflated tire on a locked door or some other silly combination. Well, for some reason I tried to use the carrot cake on the skeleton-like figure in the voodoo shop. However, as soon as I clicked Use and then the cake, it caused Guybrush to eat it. Not only that, but Guybrush just so happened to find a “raspy metal file” inside the cake while he was masticating it! Was this supposed to be a stab at Sierra for making the player choke on a bobby pin while eating some sort of blue muffin thingie in Leisure Suit Larry 2? The bobby pin had been used to unlock a door in that game too! I guess players would eventually try using the cake at some point and therefore discover the file, but did I miss a hint that would have led to me purposely trying it? Regardless, I had the file I needed, so I made my way back to the Governor’s house and climbed back through the hole in the wall. The entertaining hidden scene continued...

Was I supposed to figure out that the file I needed was in the carrot cake?

Once more into the fray!

I won’t type out all the commands that Guybrush made use of, since I’m sure you got the picture from my last post. All I’ll say is that Guybrush put the Manual of Style through a shredder, and then gave the newly formed “stylish confetti” to a heavily-armed clown. He then threw the wax lips into a fire, and used the file on a rhinoceros’ toenails. Finally, he used the file on the lock and collected the Idol of Many Hands! Guybrush was thrown through the door at the top of the stairs, sliding to a stop on his back, but just as it looked like he’d passed the third and final trial, the Sheriff followed him out: “But I’m not done with you yet! Thought you could get out of here with the Idol of Many Hands, did you? You poisoned the Governor’s pet poodles, broke into her house, and stole one of her most valuable pieces of art!” Guybrush tried to defend his actions, declaring that the poodles were merely sleeping, and that the door to the mansion had been unlocked. This of course didn’t explain why he was currently trying to walk out with the idol, and it was left up to me to choose an explanation. I announced that I was simply borrowing the idol, and while the Sheriff clearly didn’t believe me, Governor Marley herself arrived on the scene to defend my actions! “What’s going on here?” When Fester informed her of my intentions, including that I claimed to be borrowing the idol, the Governor backed up my story: “That’s right. I loaned it to him.”

I really wish I'd seen this part play out.

Guybrush's stunt double put everything into this shot!

Well...yeah...I was kind of hoping to!

You did?! Oh..I mean...yes, she did!

The Sheriff clearly hadn’t expected this turn of events, and he was even more set aback when the Governor asked him how I could possibly have even reached the idol why he was on guard. Fester Shinetop left in a huff, letting me know in no uncertain terms that he would deal with me at a later time! I was now alone with the Governor, and she apologised for the Sheriff’s behaviour: “Sorry about him. He’s new. I’m Governor Marley...Governor Elaine Marley.” I was shown a close-up of the red headed Elaine, who finally confronted me regarding my little act of thievery. “So, you were just going to borrow it, eh? Relax, Mr Threepwood. I know why you’re here. Believe me, you’re not the first who’s tried. Although, I have to admit, not many get as far as you have. My lookout told me of your arrival. I’ve wanted to meet you ever since I heard your fascinating name. Tell me, Guybrush, why do you want to be a pirate? You don’t look like one. Your face is too...sweet.” A small smile emerged from the Governor’s face at this point, and Guybrush went to mush. “Hmlggd” was all he could get out, which Elaine took for indifference rather than tongue-tied instant love. “Well, you’re obviously not in the mood for idle chitchat, are you? I suppose you’ve got many more important things to do. I won’t take up any more of your time, Mr. Threepwood.” With that, she was gone, leaving Guybrush to continue in vain to speak. When he finally recovered, he turned to the screen and said “I really wish I knew how to talk to women”.

Oh I'm sure you will, and I'll...I'll...hope that the Governor comes to my aid again!

I figured it would be a great way to meet hot chicks!

It's nice the way facial features change to reflect the mood of the dialogue.

As I tried to leave the mansion, I was once again confronted by Sheriff Shinetop. He wasn’t going to let me go now that the Governor had left the scene. He demanded I hand over my sword, and then led me to the bridge near where I first gained control of Guybrush. It was here that his intentions became very clear, as he’d tied the Idol of Many Hands to my waist with a rope. “This is the end of the road, my little pantalooned pal. Your troublemaking days on Melee Island are over. My plans for the Governor are far too important, and much too near completion, to risk letting a would-be pirate like you get in the way. So long, Mr Spicecake, or Droopface, or whatever your name is.” The Sheriff kicked the idol into the ocean, causing me to be pulled in after it! Next thing I knew I was standing on the bottom of the ocean, which admittedly wasn’t very deep this close to land. There were heaps of objects lying just out of my reach, all of which would have allowed me to cut to rope. There was a rusty knife, a hacksaw, razor-sharp scissors, an axe, a sword, and so on. It was quickly apparent that I simply wasn’t going to be able to get to any of them, so I tried something that seemed far too simple. “Pick up Fabulous Idol”. It shouldn’t have surprised me that it worked, as I’d recently picked it up in the mansion, but it sure made for an easy puzzle. Guybrush put the idol back into his inventory, and after collecting the sword on his way to the ladder, climbed out of the water.

I thought "later" might have given me at least a bit of time!

The moment before gravity kicked in.

I believe this is the one place in the game where Guybrush can die (although it takes a long time).

Clearly Sheriff Shinetop was a violent man, but he certainly wasn’t a smart one! As I climbed back onto the bridge, I was witness to a ghostly ship sailing out towards the horizon. I must have missed LeChuck’s most recent visit to the island! As I stood there watching, the lookout wandered over and demanded to know why I wasn’t doing something. “The Governor’s been kidnapped! LeChuck’s got her on that ship that just sailed off. He caught her alone when she came down here to rescue you. I’m afraid we’ve seen the last of her.” I was given a few different dialogue options, but I decided to ask the lookout where he was during this kidnapping. “Hey, I’m a lookout, not a bodyguard.” I then asked him where he thought LeChuck might have taken Elaine. “LeChuck’s taken the Governor back to his hideout on Monkey Island. I’m afraid that no pirate on this island is brave enough to follow him there.” The lookout soon left me to ponder my next steps, but not before giving me a note that LeChuck had left behind. It read: “Attention, pirates of Melee: Your governor is alive and well and by my side as she was always meant to be. If you try to find us you will only meet with horrifying disaster. Yours truly, Captain LeChuck.” Guybrush, feeling responsible for Elaine’s fate, committed to rescuing her: “Why did you have to risk your life for me? Maybe you cared for me more than I thought. Just as now I realise how much I care for you. It’s my fault the Governor’s in this mess, and I swear I’ll get her out of it. Even if I have to sail to Monkey Island myself to get her!”


She tried to rescue me? I guess I better return the favour.

Oh well in that case, I'll just be on my way.

Sailing to Monkey Island by myself seemed like a logical next step, and it also seemed likely that one of Stan’s previously used vessels would play a role in that journey. However, now that I’d technically passed the three trials, I was eager to go visit the pirate leaders and make my achievement known. On arrival at the SCUMM Bar, I found the whole front section to be completely empty. All the pirates were gone, leaving a few pewter tankards sitting on tables. I picked them up and then walked to where the leaders had been seated previously. They too were gone, and in their place was the cook, his head down on the table and tears flying out in several directions. I asked him what was wrong: “The Governor is gone! LeChuck and his spectral crew came and got her! They put her on the ghost ship and spirited her away! She was so good to me, always conveniently losing those Health Board reports...for a small consideration, of course. What will become of my business? Oh, woe is me.” I asked the cook where I might find the Governor, along with how I might get there. He told me exactly what I already knew, that Elaine had been taken to Monkey Island by LeChuck, and that I should visit Stan to get myself some transportation. Finally I asked him whether he would join me on my rescue mission, but he claimed to have an old war injury that limited his ability to do physical work. I picked up the two mugs that were sitting on the table near him, bringing my mug total to five, and then left him to his self-pity.

Looks like the kitchen hygiene finally took its toll.

Apart from the fact you've clearly got a serious tear duct overflow issue.

You and Stan are good mates? Figures.

I paid a quick visit to the kitchen, finding that there was another hunk of meat sitting on the table. I figured I probably didn’t need it, but picked it up anyway. I then used one of the mugs with the barrel of grog, resulting in a “mug o’ grog” being in my inventory. While this had seemed a good idea, I was quickly informed that the “stuff is eating right through the mug”! Moments later the “mug o’ grog” turned into a “melting mug”. If there was something I needed to do with the grog, I was going to have to do it quickly. I decided to ignore it for now and go pay the voodoo lady a visit. It seemed very likely to me that now would be the time to have my future told to me! Once I entered the voodoo shop, I found that my prediction was correct. The voodoo lady was indeed back on her throne: “So, you have returned to learn future. You must first find others to help in your cause. You must go to Monkey Island. Once there, you will search for the Ghost Pirate LeChuck. He hides deep beneath Monkey Island. There is only one thing powerful enough to destroy LeChuck. It’s an ancient root. Once prepared, the root can destroy a ghost with one touch. I see the Cannibals that live on the island. They are helping you...or eating you...I can’t tell, the vision isn’t coming in clear anymore. Now go and find the one that loves you.” The voodoo lady told me she had one final warning for me before I leave for Monkey Island, and it wasn’t, as Guybrush assumed it would be, to watch out for LeChuck: “Not of LeChuck... of yourself and what you will find. What you will find out about yourself and your world. It will terrify you.” So that, rather cryptically, is my future. It’s time I go live it...

Yes, I realise I have important things to deal with, but well, a guy gets thirsty you know!

But of course you knew I would, right?!

Of course she loves me! I mean, I spoke three or four completely unintelligible words to her! She didn't stand a chance!

Session Time: 0 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 4 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. You got the cake from Otis in the prison. It's an old staple of cartoons that aunts and mothers send their sons files hidden in cakes so they can escape (or at least it was in Ducktales, that's what I grew up with).

    As for dying, Guybrush says at some point that he can hold his breath for 10 minutes. That's how long you have to figure you have to pick up the idol from underwater and leave.

    1. Ah yes, you're absolutely right! Otis' Aunty was trying to give him the means to escape! That never crossed my mind, so I'd be interested to know whether it did for other people.

    2. Guybrush also comments on its weight when you look at it, hinting that there could be something inside.

      This also brings up one of the issues with point&click interfaces. The commands are often so generic ("use" in this case) that it's sometimes impossible to predict what your avatar is going to do. It also makes easier to blindly stumble upon the solution. With a parser, you'd have to really think about the puzzle and specifically type "eat cake".

    3. Oh, and here's what happens if you wait 10 minutes underwater. Watch especially the part that starts at about 1 minute and 40 seconds.

    4. I knew exactly what was in the cake. I used the open command though and Guybrush didn't eat the cake. It was other puzzles that tripped me up.

    5. Yes, hiding a file in a cake to help a prisoner escape is a long-standing cliche in media and literature (perhaps starting with Alexandre Dumas in "Twenty Years After", published in 1845). I think Ron Gilbert expected players to be familiar with the trope.

    6. Yeah. I also opened the cake as soon as I got it - knowing the trope. It helps that you can't get the cake until after you know you need a file.

      And I think everyone should watch the first few minutes of Laukku's link. It a quite funny scene that you only get if you take a while to solve the puzzle.

    7. I struggled more with realizing I needed to give Otis the gopher repellent than with the cake. I didn't eat the cake with the expectation of getting a file from it, but since it was a LucasArts game I figured if I shouldn't eat the cake they won't let me so I tried it to see what would happen. When the file showed up it seemed really obvious though.

    8. Aussies jailbreak differently. XD

    9. Not all Australians, Maybe I just watch too much British/American shows. I got the trope and just opened the cake. I suppose the other hint was there when Otis said that he didn't like carrot cake (can't say I blame him).

  2. If you have a saved game, or don't mind speed-running to get it set up again (maybe when you're done) it's worth doing the Governor's Mansion trial first to see some variant story scenes.

    1. I would actually suggest doing it before continuing to make some later story developments a bit clearer.

    2. Or we could provide a YouTube link to the scene in question.

      It's quite disappointing how Goubrush's motivation is reduced to a few lines of dialogue ("Just as now I realise how much I care for you", etc.) if you miss that scene by doing the trials in the wrong order. That music is so good too.

    3. Hah! That's so much better! It is a real shame that scene is bypassed by taking the trials in the wrong order, but I'd still prefer to have the option to attack them any way I choose, It's the old freedom over story discussion again.

      Thanks for the link.

  3. Here's Elaine in her EGA incarnation:

    Well what do you know, she was originally a latino. And had black hair.

    I like it much more compositionally. The subtle tilt to her head adds a lot of depth to the scene, and the direction of light reinforces their eye contact. I also really like the way her hair is drawn with stylized wavy lines.

    And that smile...

    I'd also like to use this example to discuss the art direction of the EGA version in general. It is much more focused and consistent. They were clearly going for a graphic novel kind of look, with the heavy use of lines against black. All that black also gives the game a sort of dark, gritty look. The VGA version, by contrast, often fills these blacks with colour and has so much pillow shading.

    Here's some more examples of what I'm talking about:

  4. It never crossed my mind that the cake puzzle could be difficult, I guess the trope of the file in a cake has been permanently drilled into me by cartoons.

    Also Laukku I'm playing the EGA version as well, and I agree some scenes look much nicer. Unlike LOOM, though, where I thought EGA was the perfect match for the the art style I think the VGA does Monkey Island a service. I don't know if the creators intended a graphic novel look or were forced into it by the lack of varied night time colors, but I think the more painterly quality of the VGA version is actually a lot more fitting. It makes the game look more like storybook illustrations, which seems right for a game about pirates. Monkey Island 2 took this style even further. I also prefer the VGA portraits, I appreciate the realism. Although Curse of Monkey Island is a beautiful game in its own right I always thought a more realistic style suited Monkey Island much better than something straight up cartoony. It's more atmospheric, and makes the cartoony things that happen funnier. One of the many reasons I can't stand the art in the remakes. (That and the ugly colors, over-reliance on gradients, and the static traced backgrounds that don't demonstrate any understanding of the original artist's intentions)

    1. I did quite enjoy the VGA in the original. Played the remake with the new graphics while switching in a few places to compare. However for Curse of Monkey Island I much prefer the new art than the original. The original just seems a bit messy, like they tried to do too much with limited colour pallet. I don't know if that's a good description or not but there's something about it. Monkey Island 1 VGA just seemed much clearer and well defined that the sequel.

    2. I do love well done EGA, but here I actually prefer the VGA versions. Of course there are some scenes that are better in EGA (I find I like the EGA portraits of Elaine and Guybrush better than the VGA ones), but overall I'd rather play the VGA version. Just having a graphical inventory is such an improvement.

    3. I do think that the VGA CD version (the one I've played first) is the best way to play the game, due to the high quality music and graphical inventory, and the VGA art does look very good despite losing things in translation. What I like about the EGA version is that it's cartoony yet dark at the same time. It changes how the game feels like (which is a good thing because I've replayed the game so many times that I'm almost gotten bored with it). The floppy VGA and Special Edition are my least favourites - the former is not different enough to be interesting, and the latter has godawful chaotic art where everything looks like it's about to fall apart.

      @Draconius: You mean LeChuck's Revenge instead of Curse of Monkey Island?