Curse of Monkey Island review by Al Giovetti
By Al Giovetti
The first Monkey Island, The Secret of Monkey Island, was released in 1990, and the sequel, Monkey Island 2, LeChuck's Revenge, was released in 1991. The titles were well received. It has taken Lucas Arts six years to come up with the third game in the trilogy. When pressed the co-designers, Ahern and Ackley, said it took that long to get together a suitable team to do the sequel. I for one hope that the fourth game is not too far off. Unfortunately, The adventure games that many of us love are not the largest sellers.
The Rebel Assault, Doom clone, series has sold 1.5 million copies. The X-Wing, space combat flight simulator, series has sold over one million copies. The Dig and Full Throttle have come in a distant fourth and fifth in the biggest seller list. Dollars talk and while these products do sell well, they cost more to produce than the Doom clones and may not get the same amount of attention. Thank God that Lucas Arts is very good at animated graphic adventures or we would not have seen these products at all.
One of the most gifted game developers of Lucas Arts' early history was Ron Gilbert. Ron was responsible for creating Maniac Mansion, The SCUMM system, or Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion was the game creation utility used on most of the early Lucas Arts games. Ron left Lucas Arts but his Monkey Island series lives on in the newest game from Lucas Arts.
Co-project leaders Jonathan Ackley and Larry Ahern have extensive Lucas Arts experience that has made the Curse of Monkey Island not only a nostalgic romp back into the best aspects of the two Ron Gilbert classics, but have made this third installment a classic by itself.
Meaner and more cunning than ever, the nefarious demon-pirate LeChuck returns from the dead to once again torment Guybrush Threepwood in LucasArts Entertainment Company’s highly anticipated graphic adventure sequel, The Curse of Monkey Island, set for release on Windows 95 in fall 1997.
The Curse of Monkey Island is the rollicking third installment of the popular Monkey Island game series, which includes the award-winning Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge. Curse finds Guybrush taking up dull blade and rapier wit against LeChuck to save Elaine Marley, his one true love, from being made into the evil pirate’s demon bride.
"LucasArts has built a considerable reputation for developing outstanding graphic adventure games," says Tom Byron, product marketing manager for LucasArts. " The Curse of Monkey Island continues that great tradition by combining LucasArts’ unique brand of humor with a compelling story and memorable characters. Besides, how can you not like a game that includes funny pirates, vegetarian cannibals and a guy named Snugglecakes!"
Fans familiar with the side-splitting humor and outrageous characters that highlighted the first two Monkey Island games will find more of the same in The Curse of Monkey Island. As the game begins, the evil and wily buccaneer LeChuck is attempting to woo Elaine into becoming his undead bride. But, hoping to marry Elaine himself, Guybrush unknowingly slips onto her finger a cursed ring that turns her into a gold statue. He must find a way to remove the curse from Elaine, all the while battling innumerable scurvy-ridden villains and grog-guzzling pirates in an attempt to ultimately thwart LeChuck from carrying out his sinister plans.
"The previous Monkey Island games provided an incredibly fertile platform, especially from a visual standpoint," says Jonathan Ackley, who along with co-project leader Larry Ahern, developed Curse. " The Curse of Monkey Island will include all of the elements that made the series great but with a highly stylized, hi-resolution look that could not have been accomplished before."
The Curse of Monkey Island, like all graphic adventures from LucasArts, challenges players to become integrally involved in the story by finding various objects and solving a variety of puzzles in order to finish the game. Through an intuitive interface players can pick up and use objects, examine each item collected in their inventory and talk to various characters throughout the game.
Game play is the same point and click interface where you pick up and carry inventory items that you use in special circumstances by clicking on the item then clicking on another item or non-player character. Another aspect of the graphic adventure game play is to talk to characters in the game.
Commands include both hot key commands and icon based mouse click commands. The same icon the chicken mouth or the T key can talk to, taste, eat, blow, blow up, and chew items. Cutscenes or parts of the plot which require you to wait for Guybrush to walk across the screen can be skipped by double clicking on an arrow exit or item or hitting the escape scene key.
The inventory is opened up with the I key TAB or clicking near the top of the screen.
The game can be played in easy mode or "mega monkey" mode. The easy mode omitts some of the puzzles of the more difficult mega-monkey mode.
The plot is basically a love hate triangle. Guybrush Threepwood, our hero, is after Elaine his love. LeChuck, the evil pirate zombie, is after Elaine, his unrequited love. And unfortunately LeChuck is also after Guybrush, to eliminate his competition.
Elaine, the pirate island governor, is not only a beautiful women, but in this installment she is after Guybrush. Elaine loves Guybrush because he is inept and he does not let her down. He gives Elaine a voodoo cursed ring from LeChucks treasure horde which turns her into a solid gold statue. He goes off and leaves the the solid gold Elaine statue on an island full of pirates and Elaine is stolen.
Larry Ahern described the plot himself:
At the beginning of the game, Guybrush is adrift at sea, confused and disoriented. He can't fully remember the harrowing experiences of the last few weeks. But, by luck his ship floats into a battle between the Zombie Pirate LeChuck and Guybrush's long lost love, Governor Elaine Marley. LeChuck wants to take Elaine for his wife.
Using his cunning, Guybrush blows up the evil LeChuck and gives Elaine the diamond engagement ring he has found in LeChuck's treasure hold. But when the ring is placed on Elaine's finger, Guybrush finds that the ring is cursed and Elaine is transformed to solid gold.
As Guybrush searches to find a way to remove the curse, he begins to unravel the terrible mysteries posed at the end of Monkey 2. We definitely explain the ending of Monkey 2, but we've made sure that people who haven't played the first two games won't be confused. The game definitely stands on its own.
Humor has always been an integral and essential component of graphic animated adventures. The game is hilariously funny from beginning to end, with off the wall humor. From the vegitarian cannibals of the first game to the voodoo pristess' bent on variable rate mortgages the humor does not miss a beat, nor does it draw on other games to launch its laughs.
The 640x480 pixel graphics are much improved from the older 320x240 graphics of the original. The colors are bright and cheery. Take a look at the graphics yourself in the following Screen Shots. The graphic art is approaching that quality seen only in a Disney or Don Bluth animated feature film, such as Anastasia.
AnimationThe art is spectacular, especially the animated cut scene sequences that occur at the beginning and end of the six parts of the game.
Voice ActorsThe professional voice actors do an excellent job. The voice of Mr. Ed's Wilbur who later became the voice of Uncle Scrooge for Disney, Alan Young, is one of the pirate barbers, named Haggis MacMutton. The ability to play with or without voice overs and captions will appeal to every game player.
Music ScoreThe music system is the new "The Monkeys are Listening" system which spoofs but also does a great job delivering 3D sound for the game. Michael Land composed the music for the game.
UtilitiesInstallation: Requires 1.2MB free hard drive space. An additional 20MB recommended for multiple save games.
Multi-player FeaturesUnfortunately, there are no mulitplayer features, and there won't be any as long as the designers and many designers are closed minded about the possibilities of cooperative multiplayer play for the whole family.
Cheats, Hints, WalkthroughWalkthrough by Cindy Wells
Walkthough by Lunatic
JournalistsThe game has already garnered Computer Gaming Worlds Adventure Game of the Year Award. Frankly the game would have gotten my vote for the computer game of the year as well. Barry could not leave the 1991, LeChuck's Revenge rest in peace, but had to snipe it as being "weak," with "intermittant laughs." Barry, you don't need to criticize a game in order to appear fair and impartial,
Please send us your comments and suggestions.