Thursday 29 May 2014

Game 43: The Secret of Monkey Island - Won!

Guybrush Threepwood Journal Entry 12: "I've defeated the evil LeChuck and saved Elaine! The key to it all was a root brew, created for me by the cannibals of Monkey Island. Once I had it I was able to get to the Melee Island church in time to stop LeChuck from marrying Elaine, simultaneously setting in motion events that would lead to the undead pirate exploding in a shower of light in the sky! I couldn't be happier, and with Elaine finally by my side, my future is very exciting indeed. I just hope it doesn't involve voodoo or ghosts! Is that too much to ask?"

Let's go see what this key gives me access to!

I’ve completed The Secret of Monkey Island, and boy was it an enjoyable ride! I was actually a lot closer to the end than I realised when my last session ended, so I don’t imagine it will take me all that long to finish this off. You may recall that I’d just figured out how to get the key off the wall in LeChuck’s cabin. Well once I had it, I was able to go back into the ship's underbelly and through the hatch that had previously been locked. Within I found a room filled with ghost rats, behind which I could see a large tub of cooking grease. It seemed obvious to me that the grease would be used to open the creaking door up on the deck, but how was I going to get past the huge, vicious rat guarding the way? There was an empty dish in front of it, suggesting that it was hungry or thirsty, so when I noticed that one of the other rats looked drunk, I thought I’d try filling the dish with grog. The rat drank it up immediately, and then rolled onto its back, unconscious. This allowed me to walk over and collect a glob of the grease, which I immediately took with me back up to the ship’s deck. As expected, I was able to use the grease on the door to stop it from squeaking, and then opened the door without drawing any attention to myself.

Because I know a drunk ghost rat when I see one!

It's Grease frightening!!! (sorry)

What's behind door number two?

Through the door I found a sleeping ghost pirate lying in front of a locked door. I had to assume that Elaine was in the room beyond, but there didn’t appear to be any way to get past the pirate. There was however a collection of ghost tools on the wall next to him, which I was able to add to my inventory. Once again I had a fair idea what this new item might be for, so made my way back to the glowing crate beneath the deck. I used the tools on the crate, at which point Guybrush set to work breaking through the numerous forms of protection that LeChuck had placed on it. When it was finally open, I grabbed the root within, surprised that I’d gotten my hands on the downfall of LeChuck so easily. Surely I wouldn’t be able to just wander into his cabin and destroy him?! It was at this point that I recalled that I needed to take the root back to the cannibals to have it mixed into a batch of “enzymatic ghost-dissolving solution”. I tested this theory by trying to use the root on the drunken pirate that was lying on the steps between the lower and upper decks. “I don’t think it’s very useful in its present form” was the response, so clearly I was thinking the right way. I left the ship and prepared to make my way back through the catacombs.

Undead tools!? Reminds me of Twilight!

An old root? That doesn't sound very appealing!

It sure feels good to take that eyeball necklace off!

I was just thinking how it would be really nice if the game didn’t make me find my way back to the surface of the island when a message popped up saying: “A long walk, a brief row, and a short hike later...” The game had gone one better, taking me all the way back to the cannibal’s village without making me go through the motions of travel! I informed the cannibals of my success in stealing their root back for them, then handed it over so they could get to work. “Wow! Look, he’s not kidding! Here it is! He’s not such a wimp after all!” The three cannibals went off to make the brew, asking me to wait for their return. As I stood waiting, the three headed monkey that someone mentioned on the blog appeared for no particular reason! It ran off just as the natives returned with the brew: “There it is. One squirt of that stuff and the ectoplasm really hits the fan! And if you have any left over, it’s delicious with a little vanilla ice cream.” I was super keen to go and try out the mixture, so thankfully I was automatically transported back to the ship as soon as I walked out of the village...only there was no ship there anymore!!! LeChuck’s first mate was standing on the cliff face overlooking the lava, so I asked him where the ship had gone. His response was more than a little concerning: “They all left for the wedding.” I asked him for more information regarding the wedding, despite knowing exactly what he was going to say. “LeChuck is marrying the Governor of Melee Island.” Yep, that’s what I thought he was going to say. Damn!

The Elder Scrolls could really learn from this.

Good times ahead!

Well at least I got to see it eventually!

Um...that seems unlikely.

I was pretty intrigued as to why Bob had remained beneath the surface of Monkey Island rather than go to the wedding, so asked him. “My head fell into the lava there, and I had to chase after it, and when I came back they had gone! Shame, too. I hate to miss the wedding.” There was only one more thing I needed to know, which was where the location of the wedding would be. Fortunately Bob had no qualms in revealing that LeChuck and Elaine’s wedding was to be held in the church on Melee Island! Well that explained the church’s purpose, which was something I’d wondered about earlier in the game. There seemed nothing else to talk about, but as I was about to head back through the catacombs, my crew arrived on the scene! Apparently they’d been looking everywhere for me, but I was more interested in how they’d managed to get through the catacombs without the head of the navigator. Much to my enjoyment, they claimed complete ignorance on the subject, making me look completely insane when I tried to describe the horrible things I’d seen and the use of the severed head. Clearly the game had no intention of explaining how they actually got there, and before I knew it the words “Last Part: Guybrush Kicks Butt” were on the screen! Things were being pushed along rapidly at this point, and all of a sudden I found myself standing on the dock back on Melee Island. My crew had run off to find more sunscreen, so once again the task of saving the day was left entirely up to me.

To think I had to find this crew to be able to sail to Monkey Island. They've been completely useless to me!

Haven't I been kicking butt up until now?!

If you want something done...

I immediately noticed that there were now only two items in my inventory, being my pieces of eight, and the magic seltzer bottle containing the ghost-dissolving solution. I began walking in the direction of the church, only for a ghost pirate to confront me! I had a few dialogue options available, but all of them seemed to involve spraying the solution on him. I chose “I’m selling this fine mouthwash”, and then watched as Guybrush dissolved the ghost with a single spray! I did the same thing to a ghost that was requesting invitations to the wedding in the centre of town, giving me a clear path to the church. On entering I found a priest at the lectern, clearly in the process of marrying LeChuck and Elaine: “...if there be any man with reason that these should not be united in blissful matrimony, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.” This was my chance, so I yelled out “STOP THE WEDDING!!” Unsurprisingly this interruption did not impress LeChuck, and when I informed him of my intentions to stop the proceedings, he demanded to know how I planned to achieve this goal. While I had noticed that Elaine hadn’t turned around throughout all of this, I was still pretty surprised when another Elaine dropped down from the ceiling attached to a rope! What the hell was going on?! LeChuck was just as surprised as me, as was the priest. Elaine cleared things up: “Oh, Guybrush, you mad fool! I’m impressed that you came to rescue me, but it really wasn’t necessary. I had everything well in hand. Unfortunately, your arrival has made it necessary for me to tip my hand early.”

Who you gonna call?

Why yes I's right here in this bottle!

I just noticed now that there are "people" sitting in the right pews but not the left. Nice!

How can you not love a woman that can make an entrance like this one!?

Thankfully one of my dialogue options at this point asked the question I was desperate to ask: “If you’re here, then who’s that in the dress?” Right at that moment the wedding dress dropped to the ground, revealing two monkeys! The larger one had a bottle not dissimilar to my own in its hands, but Elaine warned me not to move too quickly: “Don’t scare them! They have my ghost-zapping root beer bottle!” Guybrush being Guybrush, he offered to get the bottle for Elaine, scaring the two monkeys away in the process. Elaine wasn’t pleased: “Nice going, Guybrush. Now I’ve got to chase them down to get my voodoo root beer back.” With Elaine off chasing the monkeys, LeChuck turned his attention back to me: “You dared to come here and confront me! I can’t believe your audacity!” I of course still had my own bottle of ghost-melting liquid, so tried to use it: “Take THIS, you vaporous voodoo vermin! You’ll never menace decent, tangible pirates again you billowing bag of...of...of something that begins with b!” Clearly all the insult lessons had amounted to nothing, but even worse, the damn pump on the bottle was jammed with pocket lint! LeChuck took his opportunity, his Popeye style punch knocking Guybrush high above Melee Island. For the next period of time, I laughed as LeChuck launched Guybrush from location to location, with our poor hero finally lodging within the grog vending machine at Stan’s Previously Owned Vessels.

What's this monkey business?!


Rarely is it so entertaining to watch your own character get repeatedly bashed!

Never one to miss an opportunity, Stan wandered out and began another sales pitch, ignoring the fact that I was completely submerged in the vending machine: “Good to see you, son. How’s the ship? If you’re interested in trading up, I can give you a fair price for it.” He even tried his pitch on LeChuck when he arrived on the scene, only for the undead pirate to smash him into orbit also. Once Stan was out of the way, LeChuck turned his attention to the vending machine, twisting it this way and that in an attempt to get me out. Finally he pulled me out through the slot at the base, which can’t have felt particularly pleasant. As LeChuck prepared to punch me in the face again, I noticed a green bottle of root beer had fallen out of the vending machine alongside me. I picked it up, and used it on LeChuck, not completely certain whether or not root beer would have the same effect as the brew the cannibals had mixed earlier. As theliquid hit LeChuck in the face, he began to choke and then scream in pain! His head exploded upwards into the sky, leaving nothing but a headless skeleton on the ground, which then dissolved before my eyes! LeChuck was gone! To my utter delight, the words “Instant Replay” then flashed at the bottom of the screen, and I was given not one, but two replayed views (with the second one being Blimp-Cam) of the ghost pirate’s demise. As his head reached a certain distance above the island, it exploded into numerous colourful fireworks!

Um...I wouldn't stand there if I was...actually, never mind...carry on!

This seemed a bad time to lose one's head!

Blimp-Cam: Brilliant!

Hmmm...where have I seen this before?

Emmanuelle!!! Clearly LucasArts plagiarized this classic game!

At this point Elaine wandered up to join me, and the two of watched the light show above us. Guybrush made a fine observation: “You know, LeChuck was a deviant, obnoxious, slithery, creepy-crawly sort of a guy, but I’ll say one thing for him. He sure looks nice exploding against the night sky.” Elaine agreed, stating how romantic the whole scene was, and offered to buy Guybrush a root beer. Our hero approved of the idea, but his suggestion that there might be more in Stan’s vending machine made him wonder what had become of the overly-enthusiastic salesman. I was then very briefly shown Stan crashing into the ocean way out to sea, having finally returned to Earth after his LeChuck-induced orbit was complete. This wasn’t the only loose end tied up though, as Guybrush then commented that he’d forgotten all about his promise to bring Herman Toothrot back to Melee Island. The view once again changed, this time showing Herman standing on one of the Monkey Island beaches, questioning whether or not Guybrush had left without him. There’s no doubt that Guybrush was now a hero, but he was still a pirate, and that meant not always living a life of honour and loyalty. As funny as all of this was, it was the game’s final moments that made me laugh out loud. Guybrush commented to Elaine that at least he’d learned something from this whole experience, and when she asked what it was, I was given the chance to choose between three dialogue responses. I chose “Never pay more than 20 bucks for a computer game”, just to see what would happen. Elaine asked me what I was talking about, and the game’s fitting final sentence was “I don’t know, I’m not sure why I said that.” Love it!!! Final Rating post to come on the weekend...

Aaawwww, what an attractive couple! You might want to keep this one away from Larry, Guybrush!

I'm sure comic timing in a computer game is not always easy, but LucasArts continually nailed it in this game.

I absolutely love this final line. I'll have to go see what the other two dialogue options produce though...

Well at least we have YouTube!

A fair demand, and one I must comply with now...

Session Time: 0 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 9 hours 30 minutes


  1. Nicely done. Did your past play time help at all getting through any of the puzzles?

    1. Maybe a few, but I'm not even certain whether I ever finished it back when I first played it now. The last part of the game just didn't ring any bells at all!

  2. "Turn your computer off and go to sleep"

    And of course, the very first time I played this when I was like 13, it was 3 in the morning by the time I saw this :)

  3. Nice one Trickster, I can already foresee this getting high scores and end-of-year accolades.

    I wouldn't get used to that level of comedy though, there are few games that consistently manage to entertain like Monkey Island.

  4. The alternate ending where you sink your ship is funnier. :-P (YouTube links one and two for the changed relevant scenes.)

    I'll post some final comparison screenshots. Here's what LeChuck's head originally looked like, instead of Mr. Brownbeard:

    Also, Elaine's and Guybush's final closeup have an extra effect - they're illuminated in various colours by the fireworks:

    1. Too bad he blends into the island so much in the first one. The second one is ok, but they need to add more definition to the faces.

  5. I was laughing out loud all throughout this final post. Really a mark of an extremely funny game, that even a text description of somebody else playing it could make me laugh.

    Also that final close-up is so lovely, but it is a shame that they're not illuminated by the fireworks anymore like Laukku pointed out. That's a really neat touch.

    1. And of course the biggest disappointment was that Trickster didn't sink the ship. I blame all of the other games for making him too cautious. Though we did get to see the "quest for the perfect tan" line (not to be confused with the "quest for the perfect tan line") which I hadn't seen in a while and forgot how funny it was.

  6. The game is, obviously, fantastic. I think that much could be considered apparent just from the number of people who have kept talking about it over the years! When I was in primary school, we managed to make it a part of the curriculum somehow. It was a terrible idea for those who did, because all it ever did was bring laughs. It was good for morale, though. :)

    Still, I've always felt that the final act felt far too quick - I kinda wish they'd dragged it on a little, but do understand why they didn't. Still, you've come through hell and worse (Thanks to me, unfortunately) so I'm glad that the joy of playing this for what must have felt like the first time again was able to be captured on here. On to QFG2! (As I believe that Altered Destiny sounds much like a stab in the tender areas.)

    1. Two greatest adventure games of the early 90s in a row?! That's like having prime ribs followed by wagyu beef steak!

  7. I love love love love love this game, and reading through this playthrough gave me more pleasure than any since the first QFG game. I actually just found my original 5.25" floppy version of the demo for this game - I'm unsure what to even do with it, as my space is limited. Anyone have any fun ideas? I will entertain anything.

    1. Search the wide world of web for a collector of such things and sell it for a huge price allowing to live in luxury of the spoils of rare find. Either that or I remember those discs flying quite well when thrown as a Frisbee, so gather some friends and have a disc throwing competition.

    2. What platform is it for, if you don't mind me asking?

    3. I don't, and I am 99% sure it's for DOS. I'll post a pic tomorrow!

  8. ”Emmanuelle!!! Clearly LucasArts plagiarized this classic game!”

    Further evidence:

    * Both games take place in tropical locations
    * Heroes have difficulties in travelling with boats
    * The female lead in both games has a name beginning and ending with E
    * In both games heroes must go through three trials
    * In Monkey Island we meet masked natives, in Emmanuelle masked dancers
    * In both games you get to duel (in Monkey Island just verbally, in Emmanuelle with your fists)
    * Emmanuelle has a judo master, Monkey Island a sword master
    * In both games you get to spend some time underwater
    * Both games have dialogue options
    * In Monkey Island you encounter many men of low moral fiber, in Emmanuelle women with low morals
    * In Monkey Island you are guided by an enigmatic person versed in mysteries of voodoo, in Emmanuelle you are guided by an enigmatic person versed in mysteries of eroticism

    I think it's becoming more and more obvious where Ron Gilbert got his ideas...

    1. You guys have just lifted the veil from my eyes but sank my heart at the same freakin' time.

      Thanks, pals! Time for me to take some time off for bemoaning.

      Oh, what a world!

      Oh, the humanity!

  9. So, I've started to listen to the Super Marcato game music podcast. It is similar to the Legacy Video Game Music Podcast, but will go beyond 8 and 16 bit console music. Well, in episode 2 they did music from their favourite composers. They started with, of course, Koji Kondo, the most famous game music composer (Mario, Zelda, many more), and in number two....Michael Land. Lucasarts composer. Damn, he is good. I'd not heard the music before, and it is very good.

    In all they played: The Secret of Monkey Island – Michael Land – Lucasarts – PC – 1990
    -SCUMM Bar, Ghost Ship Shuffle
    Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge – Michael Land, Peter McConnell, Clint Bajakian – Lucasarts – PC – 1991
    -The Swamp/Voodoo Lady
    Sam & Max Hit the Road – M. Land, P. McConnell, C. Bajakian – Lucasarts – PC – 1993
    -Pleasantly Understated Credit Sequence, Snuckey’s Greatest Hits Vol. 4
    The Curse of Monkey Island – Michael Land – Lucasarts – PC – 1997
    -Mocking the Voodoo Lady/Voodoo Jazz, End Credits

    which really sold me on Monkey Island's music: if anyone wants to join me in listening to a great podcast.

    In fact, he shows up quite a lot on the podcast:

    1. Yes, he's seriously good. If you'de like to hear more music from Monkey Island 1, here's the full soundtrack from the CD version. They didn't even mention The Dig, which has some of his best stuff. The only video game composers I personally feel would be better are Nobuo Uematsu and Koji Kondo (the only game with Kondo music I've actually played is Super Mario Bros., but what I've heard from YouTube is great). It's a shame that Land hasn't done almost anything since LucasArts, except for Tales of Monkey Island.

      If I had to nitpick something about the music in Monkey Island 1, it's that the use of leitmotifs is very simplistic - character appears onscreen, their theme is played. (There's much more interesting stuff that can be done.) But that is remedied in Monkey Island 2, which has many meaningful variations and relationships of themes and is perhaps the best video game soundtrack of all time.

    2. Yeah, Lucasarts certainly didn't skimp on music talent. Michael Land produced quite a few memorable scores (The Dig's is excellent, and incidentally, that's one non-silly game for you, Canageek).

      And I spy Clint Bajakian there in MI2 -- if you haven't yet, check out the Morricone-style tunes he made for Lucas' Outlaws. They're quite fantastic.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. So: My thoughts:
    The first: The art is easily the best we've seen. Based on the above podcast, the music is a damn bit better then anything else as well. The plot isn't great, but the twist at the end that avoids damseling Marley is great (Yes, I'm a Feminist Frequency fan). However, I do like the fact the tone is consistent: It is silly, but it is all silly in the same way. You don't have a whole ton of weird out-of-character stuff going on. It is anachronistic, but the world feels like part of a consistent whole, unlike a lot of the games I've gripped about.

    That said, I think Full Throttle is a cooler idea for a game, since it is mostly played straight, but hey, each to their own.

    1. There's something really cool about Monkey Island's plot that isn't readily apparent, and that's the unique structure. Working at LucasFilm Games at the time it would have been easy to just do the standard Hero's Journey structure that Star Wars had popularized, and has been pretty much standard for movies from then on. Monkey Island did something different, in some ways taking the Hero's Journey and tweaking it so that it fits the medium of games better, and in some ways just striking out on its own.

      First of all there's no call to adventure, Guybrush just shows up and immediately tells us that he wants to become a pirate. There's no refusal of the call either, partly because it would be boring in a game, and partly because Monkey Island understands that in a way the call to adventure is us seeing the game's box and deciding "yeah, I DO want to be a pirate." We've already accepted the call, and so has Guybrush, the second the game starts.

      From then on the game follows a sort of double Hero's Journey structure. The first part is the Three Trials, and Guybrush's quest to become a pirate. This matches up perfectly with The Road of Trials section of the Hero's Journey, and in fact these trials coming in threes is pretty standard. The interesting thing about them is that of course they're non-linear, and these trials contain other aspects of the Hero's Journey within them. Particularly the trial of stealing the idol.

      While Guybrush is stealing the idol he has a Meeting With the Goddess (Elaine) and an Atonement With the Father (Fester Shinetop/leChuck.) No surprise that most people end up doing this Trial last (is this order forced through puzzles? I'm not sure. I've never actually tried to do this trial first)

      At this point in the story the Hero's Journey very abruptly cuts off, right when Guybrush is about to receive the Ultimate Boom (becoming a pirate) he gets a call to adventure, a NEW adventure. Sort of like if just as Frodo was about to throw the ring into the fires of Mt. Doom a much more important adventure pulled him away from it.

    2. We see this second story boiling underneath all throughout the first part of the game, in dialog about leChuck and also cut-scenes. But this is when Guybrush really gets his call to adventure, and then proceeds to go through a lot of the steps he skiped the first time around. He still skips the Refusal of the Call (because once again it would be boring,) but in his place Otis, Clara, and Meathook refuse the call and it's Guybrush's job to convince them to Cross the Threshold with him. Which happens when they all get on the ship together and sail off to find Monkey Island.

      I won't go through the structure of the whole rest of the game, because this post is way way too long already, but I'll hit a few key points. The first is probably that through completing his second quest to save Elaine, which turns out to have been unnecessary, he actually completes his first abandoned quest to become a pirate in a much less structured and obvious manner than through the three trials. In this way these two separate strands of the Hero's Journey come together and form a whole. Guybrush achieves what he wanted from the beginning by forgetting about it and going on a much more selfless quest, actually going on a journey into the truly unknown, rather than fucking around on an island with a bunch of scared pirates.

      Then the game ends in a very literal interpretation of the Return, where Guybrush returns, having changed (by becoming a pirate and finding the root), to kick leChuck's ass on Melee Island.

      I don't mean to make it sound like Monkey Island is a masterpiece of storytelling, but underneath the humor lies a very solid and surprisingly unique story structure. I think this is what really makes Monkey Island work, the serious story (it's a story that could easily work in a more serious pirate game with a few changes) holds together the silly stuff, keeps it all from falling apart. That's also why I think the more realistic art fits monkey island better than the cartoon art of some of the future installments.

    3. Well said, Tymoguin. I also wanted to say something about how the story subverts common story structures, particularly how the player is denied the reward at the last minute a couple times. The sequel takes this element even further and feels like a pessimistic deconstruction of the first game.

      The mix of lighthearted humour and dark undertones have also been a big part of the series. The first three games nailed it, then Escape was a bit too lighthearted and Tales was way too serious.

    4. I ended up doing the idol quest first, the sword master second, and the treasure last.

  11. More random adventure game stuff! Zero Punctuation did a mocureview of Tesla Effect:

  12. The ending sequence will always be memorable for me, since my first exposure to this game was playing the last part at a friend's house.

  13. I've played through Monkey Island many times, but reading through this has been a real pleasure. It was great to experience someone coming at it new(ish), highlighting so many of the little things that I now take for granted. I still have a boxed copy of the (EGA) game with 5.25" floppy disks.

    Over the years of playing it, I think I've lost the FLOW of the game. I just know the solutions and barrel through. Reading a playthrough like this felt like a much richer experience and reminded me of a different time.

    As much as I do appreciate the voice acting added for the 2009 special edition, there is something about how the characters sounded in my head that made it funnier. A particular example, the Mancomb Seepgood joke just doesn't work anywhere near as well as what I always heard in my imagination.