The Secret of Monkey Island
I must admit, I never did expect to be writing a review of either this game or its sequel, Monkey Island II, prompted by the imminent release of a new Monkey Island title. It's been so long now since we've seen a new episode in this series, like many other players I thought we'd seen the last of Guybrush Threepwood. Seemingly we haven't. So it was with great pleasure that I brushed off the dust and opened the Secret of Monkey Island box once more.
If you are new to computer games and you haven't played either this game or Monkey Island II it is almost certain that you have at least heard of someone 'monkeying around' at sometime or other. This is one of the much loved early graphic adventures that seems to have an enduring appeal. Although The Secret of Monkey Island is 'yellowing' a bit with age, particularly the graphics, it is still a delightful game and the puzzles still tripped me up a couple of times even though I have played it before.
In this game you play the character of Guybrush Threepwood who wants to be a pirate. The first part of the game has you running around fulfilling three trials before you can collect your swashbuckling T-shirt. To be honest, you never do get to add a swashbuckling T-shirt to your collection of T-shirt trophies because there's no time ... there's a damsel in distress to rescue. Delightfully, this damsel is no simpering victim, she even possesses a mind of her own, and she has a surprise in store for you at the end of the game. Nevertheless, you'll need to find your way to the mysterious Monkey Island, make friends with a monkey, placate the vegetarian cannibals (well they don't eat red meat), and confront the evil LeChuck and his 'cadaverous' band of pirates who are ruling the seas.
It's great fun. There can't be anyone who has played The Secret of Monkey Island who can't remember how they defeated the swordmaster and earned their prized T-shirt for this amazing feat. This is a problem where you, literally, have to sharpen your wits and, generally speaking, you'll have to stay pretty much 'in touch' for the entire adventure. It's not a terribly difficult game, but it certainly has enough complexity to keep everyone entertained. Even if you don't find it too difficult, the humour is wonderfully engaging and it will keep you coming back for more. It's a game where there are lots of characters who will help you out, and many, many weird and wonderful items to collect. On occasion you will need some ingenuity and imagination to pick up the clues and work out the logic and, sometimes, a bit of deceit and subterfuge won't go astray.
The Secret of Monkey Island is one of the early graphical adventures so there are no voices, only text captions for dialogue. Although it has a point and click interface it pre-dates the age of icons and uses words to build up commands instead, so that you just select 'use' to use something, or 'talk' to talk, etc. Simple. Also there are keyboard equivalents for all functions. In a nutshell, it is extremely easy to control with keyboard or mouse and has all the usual options for saving, restoring, adjusting music level and adjusting the amount of time text is displayed.
If you haven't played it, don't miss it. It's funny and totally captivating even after a good few years. Now is the perfect time to test it out to prepare yourself for the new game in the series. It really is a great game for all the family and the CD version, at least, is published in 5 languages ... English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 1997.
All rights reserved.
286/386? Sound card, CD ROM (also published on floppy disk)