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The Secret of Monkey Island (PC) artwork

The Secret of Monkey Island (PC) review

"It would be easy to simply fill this review up with pirate-y puns and lame pirate or monkey related jokes (after all, that's what the game did). I'll try my best not to though! "

It would be easy to simply fill this review up with pirate-y puns and lame pirate or monkey related jokes (after all, that's what the game did). I'll try my best not to though!

This game tells the tale of young Guybrush Threepwood. Although Guybrush desperately wants to be a pirate, he is cursed with an unpirate-y name, and an inability to hold his grog. In fact, his only real qualification is that he can hold his breath for ten minutes (leading to the only gag of the game to make me laugh out loud). Nevertheless, young Mr. Threepwood travels to Melee Island in an attempt to realise his dream. He is set three trials by some strangely land-based pirates, and during the course of these he hears legends of the Ghost Pirate LeChuck, who has all the sea-farers afraid to go on the water, and falls foul of the local sheriff and in love with the local governor. Busy lad, our Guybrush. Anyhow, he completes the trials, only to find the pirates gone. In fact, almost everywhere is deserted. Guybrush reaches the dock just in time to see a ghostly galleon sailing away. Then the fun really begins.

Despite the ceefax graphics and pathetic sound, this is a superb game, and deservedly a classic. Guybrush moves around Melee Island (and later the eponymous Monkey Island) in true point'n'click fashion, and meets several likeable characters (and some truly annoying ones - step forward Stan). Some of the puzzles will have you scratching your head for hours, although ultimately this game won't last more than seven or eight hours without a guide (three or four with). Although the graphics aren't really up to much there is still a good sense of variety in each of the three main locations of the game. In fact, this an area in which that Monkey Island is better than MI2. Although the latter has better graphics and more locations, each is less distinctive. Here in MI1 we have Melee island, which is always dark and gloomy, Monkey Island (a jungle), and a ship.

There are some faults, however. The sword fights rely on the trading of insults. This can be tedious, as to beat the swordmaster you need a full catalogue of insults and replies, although these can only be gained by having another opponent say them. To get the set can therefore take up to an hour, and this part of the game is very tedious. Also, the save feature is very annoying. Click on the wrong thing and you can save instead of load at the title screen, deleting your save file. I recommend, therefore, having three or four saves on the go at once.

Although later titles in the series are technically better, they can't quite capture the magic of Guybrush's first adventure. As pointed out in Monkey Island three, though, just what is the Secret of Monkey Island, anyway??

tomclark's avatar
Community review by tomclark (February 03, 2004)

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