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SummaryWhat is the secret of Monkey Island anyway? Too bad nobody knows
The GoodI thought that I ignore the games I had in my playlist, only to play the first game of the Monkey Island series again; not because I had forgotten what it was like, but because LucasArts announced that they are planning a special edition of the game, a full talkie using the same voice actors from The Curse of Monkey Island. I also thought that I would play this new version after I completed the game.
In the game, the player controls Guybrush Threepwood, a wimpy-looking dude who winds up on Mêlée Island seeking to become a pirate. He is told that in order to become one, he must complete the three trials which are sword-fighting, thievery, and treasure-hunting. Once Guybrush completes these trials, he learns about the ghost pirate LeChuck who kidnaps Elaine Marley, the governor of Mêlée Island which whom Guybrush falls in love with early on. After the trials, he focuses on rescuing Elaine from the clutches of LeChuck, who has Elaine in his secret hideaway on Monkey Island.
The first thing that I liked about the game was the copy protection scheme. I am glad that LucasArts didn't follow other companies and ask users to “type in the x word that appears on line y on page z”. Lucas's copy protection, known as “Dial-A-Pirate”, asked users what a pirate was hung; and users would find this out by turning a wheel until the pirate on the screen matches that on the wheel. If an incorrect answer was given three times answer, users are thrown out of the game. This was a sneaky scheme because it would mean that anyone who disagreed with copy protection would have a hard time copying the wheel.
I tried out the CD-ROM version of Monkey Island so I did not have to worry about Dial-A-Pirate. This version has the same interface as that of Monkey Island 2, replacing words with pictures in your inventory and removing the unnecessary commands such as “Turn on” and “Turn Off”. For the sake of this review, I will refer to the original game with the 12 commands as the “original game”. I played the original game as soon as it was released, and I don't even remember using the above commands, so I did not see the point in these commands anyway.
The game is split into four parts; and during these parts, Guybrush will meet strangest (and funniest) characters, but I think that most of the characters players can be more familiar with, as most of them appear in the next four games. First up, there are those crazy Fettucini Brothers, who do nothing but argue who gets in their cannon; Stan, the obnoxious salesman who wants to make every one of his customers go away happy; Meathook, the biffy dude with the cool talking tattoo painted on his chest; and Herman Toothrot who, along with cannibals that he has disputes with, is stranded on Monkey Island’ and is waiting to be rescued. Herman must be the most annoying character in the game, since he bugs Guybrush wherever he goes.
During the game, I saw some amazing backgrounds starting from the village on Mêlée Island and ending with LeChuck's underground lair. The graphics were the best that I have seen at the time and they made me feel as if I was on there. I enjoyed walking throughout Monkey Island, because the islands is mainly covered with jungle and I always quite liked the idea of getting lost in a jungle.
I enjoyed listening to the reggae-style music that accompanied each scene. They are much better in the CD-ROM version than they are in the original. If you play the CD-ROM version, you can hear additional background noises which add atmosphere to the game.
Monkey Island has a fair share of jokes, which is noticeable right at the start of the game. Almost every character mispronounce Guybrush's surname (from “Thriftweed” to “Peepwood”). I love the joke with the rat belonging to the Men of Lower Fiber (He is scared of the mouse cursor being placed over him.) as well as the insults that you use to fight pirates. All of these jokes are nothing compared to the one that I discovered on Monkey Island. You walk Guybrush off a cliff, and a a result, a Sierra dialog box appears and Guybrush mysteriously appears again and says "Rubber Tree".
The Bottom LineThe Secret of Monkey Island is the first game in a great series. The objective is simple enough. Do what it takes to become a pirate and prove that you are not a wuss by going after a damsel-in-distress. Before you can do that, however, you have to put up with the amazing copy protection, a feature that was removed in the CD-ROM version. When you get to play the game, you will encounter the characters that you will get to meet again in future Monkey Island games, tap your feet at the reggae-style music, have fun with the easiest puzzles such as throwing insults at strangers, and do other stuff you could not think of doing in an adventure game before.
If you have obtained the CD-ROM version of the game, you will hear some background noises that add atmosphere to the game as well as listen to many reggae soundtracks that are much better than those n the original game. For this reason, I prefer the CD-ROM version to the original any day.