Game Review: The Curse of Monkey Island
See my Let’s Play of The Curse of Monkey Island on YouTube!
Back in 2002, my dad bought special editions of two games. One was Age of Mythology (we will talk about that one another time) and the other was The Monkey Island Bounty Pack. This Bounty Pack contained The Secret of Monkey Island, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, The Curse of Monkey Island and a demo for the upcoming Escape From Monkey Island.
Being the age I was, I found the look of The Curse of Monkey Island to be more inviting, plus the fact there was voice acting. Little did I know, I was about to play one of the best games I have ever played and would introduce me to an incredible game series that I now long for a continuation of.
The Curse of Monkey Island follows straight after Monkey Island 2, with Guybrush floating on the water in a theme park dodgem. After being picked up by LeChuck in the bay of Plunder Island, Guybrush escapes the hold and takes a huge diamond ring with him. Sinking LeChuck’s ship and swimming to the shore, Guybrush finds his love, Elaine, and presents her with the diamond ring, asking for her hand in marriage. Elaine accepts the proposal and, after putting on the ring (a cursed ring), turns into a solid gold statue. This kicks of the swashbuckling adventure to lift the curse and take down the zombie-pirate LeChuck.
This is a game that knows it’s story and sticks to it. Within the first twenty minutes you know what your mission is for the entire game and I love how simplistic that is. The game isn’t full of convoluted side stories that stray miles away from the main mission and every step you take through the story makes you feel like you are getting closer and closer to the goal to save Elaine.
All of the characters in The Curse of Monkey Island are lovable. Each interaction is filled with purpose for the plot and a healthy dose of humour which drives home the light-hearted feeling of the adventure.
Point-and-Click adventure games are quite limited in scope, in terms of their mechanics. Looking back at the previous entries in the series, you find the lower half of the screen consists of all of the actions your character could possibly take and an inventory. The Curse of Monkey Island completely streamlines this and allows the entire screen to be filled with the adventure.
Holding the left mouse button over an object you can interact with will reveal a gold medallion with three options (depending on the object):
- Use/Pick Up/Push/Pull
- Examine/Look At
- Talk To/Eat
If you are used to the Lucas Arts style of adventure games then this adventure shouldn’t be too difficult. There are two difficulty modes; standard and Mega-Monkey, with the latter offering extra, more difficult puzzles. After playing through both modes a number of times I can say that I wish there were more and harder puzzles in the Mega-Monkey mode as the differences were very few.
Art Style and Animation
Instantly, you can see this entry in the series is in a totally different direction than the previous games. All of the scenery is exaggerated and warped, with the clouds being the most noticeable from the beginning of the game. Straight lines are a rare occurrence here and I can say that it adds to the fun of the world.
The art direction for this game was a solid choice. Using hand-drawn animation like you would see in Saturday morning cartoons growing up, this art style still looks excellent over twenty years later. That is more than can be said for the next release in the series, but we will talk about that in a later post. Animation of this type means that the small in-game cutscenes that appear are seamless, keeping the game moving.
Music and Sound
What can I say about the music? While not the strongest of the series, it is instantly recognisable and keeps you engrossed in the Caribbean theme. I’m a huge fan of this type of sound and Reggae music, so I fell in love with the soundtrack of, not just this game, but the whole series. Tracks are written to perfectly match the scenes, like the entrance the Cabana Club on the beach or for Blondebeard’s Chicken Shoppe.
The sound in this game is amazing. If you were to stand still at any point, you will hear all of the sounds around you that you would expect to hear on an inhabited island. From the sounds of waves crashing on the beach to the chickens in the trees (yes, you read that right). The sound is something that was carefully crafted for this adventure.
One thing to note is the voice acting. This was a time when voice acting was still quite new to video games and this meant that a lot of games at the time weren’t great. However, Dominic Armato is amazing as Guybrush Threepwood and, just like the animation, the voice acting in this game hold up so well today.
The Curse of Monkey Island is a classic Point-and-Click adventure game with excellent sound design and animation and I would recommend playing if you are a fan of the genre. The humour in this game is extremely well written and can be enjoyed by anyone, but it’s the gameplay that shines through and, unless you are a fan of the genre, you will have a hard time getting into.
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