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The Secret of Monkey Island (DOS)

100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  אולג 小奥 (168750)
Written on  :  Aug 20, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars

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I would become a pirate just to be able to play this game

The Good

"Secret of Monkey Island" is the same for adventure games as Beethoven was for classic European music, or Buddha Shakyamuni for Asian religions. It was not the first - it was the best. It set standards for making adventure games by simply doing everything the way it had to be done. It didn't invent anything new, but it did everything better. It defined the genre by showing how to create optimal gameplay mechanics for comedy adventure, how to write witty dialogues, how to design clever puzzles, how to tell a humorous story. Sure, there were Maniac Mansion that had the SCUMM interface, and Last Crusade that had branching dialogue. But those were the first attempts, that were incomplete in many ways. "Secret of Monkey Island" is the perfect realization of those attempts. In this game, and only in it, we got what we later called a classic Lucas Arts adventure style.

In my opinion, "Secret of Monkey Island" had the best humor of all Lucas Arts games - a kind of humor that appealed to me more than the overwhelming comic-ness of Day of the Tentacle or Sam & Max. It was subtle enough to make you take the storyline seriously, and never too forced to resemble a plain comedy show. But when it came to really hilarious jokes, they were on the right place and at the right time.

"Secret of Monkey Island" set a tradition of an entirely death-less adventure. You could get stuck in Loom, and you could die in Last Crusade, but "Secret of Monkey Island" offered a possibility of free exploration and unlimited experimenting (if we don't count the one and only way to die in this game: to let Guybrush stay under water for more than ten minues!). It also made the famous branching dialogue system, first introduced in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", to a humorous tool: without being afraid of choosing the wrong answer, you could talk to people the way you liked to, ask about multiple topics, say something silly or something trivial, insult people or be polite, and so on.

It had perfect puzzles that were neither too hard nor too easy. It had amazing VGA graphics that surpassed almost everything seen before. It had lovable characters and a story that was funny and romantic at the same time. It was full of authentic "piratey" atmosphere, yet it was a parody - the most subtle parody of all. In everything it did, it was natural. And above all, it had a lot of inspiration, that was enough not only for itself, but also for countless games to come.

The Bad

Sorry to disappoint you... This game has no flaws. This is one of those cases where the majority is right.

The Bottom Line

A classic is not the one who creates a new path. A classic is the one who reaches perfection on a path someone else first stepped on, the one who dominates without being a pioneer, through the sheer power of personality. "Secret of Monkey Island" is a classic for those reasons. If you own a PC, you should own a copy of this game.