Games You Should(ve) Played……The Monkey Island Series part 1

So I know its been a long time since my last post, two maybe three weeks ago.  It’s been busy both at work and at home, to add to everything there was an unexpected death in the family.

This weeks Games You Should(ve) Played is going to focus on the LucasArts adventure series Monkey Island.  I decided to change my format a bit though, and instead of featuring 5 or so games in one long post I’ll post one a day to make it easier 0n my faithful readers…so come along….Monkey Island awaits……

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, after Starwars and Indiana Jones, but before Jar Jar ruined Star Wars.  Lucas made video games, and some damn good ones.  Lucasarts was one of the premiere point and click adventure game makers and the cream of the crop from them was The Monkey Island series.  The Monkey Island series follows the adventures of wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood.  The original game garnered critical and public acclaim and spawned four sequels, the last being released in 5 episodes.  The games have been so influential, that the original is in one of five games selected for The Art of Video Games exhibition at the Smithsonian Art Museum.  It also holds a Guinness world record for being the first graphic adventure to become a stage play, because in 2005, Chris Heady, a student at Hammond High School in Columbia Maryland wrote a screenplay adaptation of it, LucasArts even licensed the play to them for a year as long as it was not for profit.

Monkey Island has been around for years and built a lasting legacy, and that legacy began with…….

The Secret Of Monkey Island (1990)

Story and Characters

The Atmosphere of the game was based on the Pirates of the Carribean theme park ride (yes it was a ride before movies!) oddly enough, some scenes from the Monkey Island games appear to have influenced scenes in the movies, I’m not going to take the time to point it out, but you can find the comparisons on the internet.  In fact there is even a “slight” resemblance between Guybrush and Orlando bloom, well at least the way they dress.  Ok, so heres a link, take it with a grain of salt, I wouldn’t consider the movie a complete rip off, especially since the game was based off the ride, but here it is Another unique part of the game is that the player can’t die, well except if he is underwater for more than ten minutes.  This tends to make the game more slapstick and more enjoyable, knowing that you can do and say whatever you want makes for some great conversation.

Guybrush and Elaine

So anyway on to the plot!  The game doesn’t actually start on Monkey Island, you (Guybrush) start off on Melee Island with aspirations of becoming a pirate.  Guybrush is told to seek out the Pirate leaders at the Scummbar (Scumm is actually an acronym for the name of the game engine.)  You meet the three pirate leaders and are then given three trials to complete in order to become a pirate.

Guybrush and the pirate leaders

The three in no particular order are winning a sword duel against the Swordmaster of Melee Island, finding the buried treasure of Melee Island and stealing an idol from the governor’s mansion.

The 3 trials

After you complete the trials, just when you think its almost over, the governor (who turns out to be a governess and your love interest) is kidnapped by the evil ghost pirate, LeChuck, and has been taken to Monkey Island.  It’s up to you to form a crew (lazy as they may be), buy a ship and set sail to save her!


Not much to really say here, its point and click for the most part, even the special edition version that came out for various systems.  No button mashing or anything like that, just adventure.

Ah good ole point and click goodness!

Graphics and Sound

Classic early 90’s graphics, running SCUMM engine, a proprietary engine from Lucasfilm Games that was originally seen in the first Maniac Mansion game.  The original version of the game was in eye popping 320×200 16 color EGA and a VGA version with 256 color support.  The SCUMM engine allowed the graphics to be at the top half of the screen, while the available commands were at the bottom, you would just move the cursor to the command you wanted.  The music was composed in house at Lucasfilm Games in MIDI by Michael Land.  The game was released in 1990 on 3.5” floppy disc, with a CD version in 92 that contained a higher quality version of the music.  There was no voiceover work, the player had to read all the dialog.

In 2010 LucasArts released a special edition of the game for multiple platforms.  The remake is extremely faithful to the original and even features similar gameplay.  The special edition also used hand drawn screens, voice overs for the charaters, a hint system and there is even a function that allows you to switch from the special edition to the original! which is pretty neat because it really shows how close they were to the original when making it.  Oh, there is also a hint system, that trust me, comes in handy.

Side by Side comparison of the original and special editions.

The new graphics and sound enhance what was already a great experience and it’s still a great experience.

The Secret Of Monkey Island was a great game back in the day that combined comedy and a bit of adventure.  It still accomplishes that to this day and stands the test of time.  It’s still a great game from the heyday of adventure games and I highly recommend it.


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