The Curse of Monkey Island

aka: A Maldição da Ilha dos Macacos, CMI, La Maldicion de Monkey Island, La Malédiction De l'Ile aux Singes, La maledizione di Monkey Island, MI3, Monkey Island 3, Prokljatje Ostrova Obez'jan
Moby ID: 547

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 90% (based on 42 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 322 ratings with 18 reviews)

More of an homage than a true conclusion

The Good
Curse was the first Monkey Island game not developed by Ron Gilbert. Overall, the new team did a good job filling those very large shoes, most noticeably as far as gameplay mechanics are concerned.

Clearly, much effort has been put into puzzles, that very important cornerstone of adventure game design. There are quite a few mind-benders here; the golden tooth puzzle will probably be forever engraved in my memory - not just because it's tricky, but also because it's brilliantly designed and very amusing. And how can I ever forget the banjo competition? After several futile attempts I finally figured out the solution and couldn't help bursting into laughter.

Is this game still funny? The answer is "sometimes". It does borrow heavily from previous two games - for example, insult fighting is recycled (though now with rhymes) - but there are still bits of fresh, charming humor here. The usage of classic humorous mechanics from the predecessors is nowhere as blatant, as abusive, and - dare I say - as insulting as in the next installment. Even the salesman Stan, who is now being featured for the third time, manages to stay amusing - he now sells coffins, because at least the customers don't come back with complaints...

Veteran Monkey Island players will be delighted to discover the Easter eggs - that scene where you explore a location from the first game displayed with original VGA graphics is very amusing, and so is the brilliant false ending in the middle of the game. And how can you not appreciate a joke hidden in the game's menu options?..

The characters also do not disappoint. There aren't that many old acquaintances, and the game introduces one of the funniest characters of the entire series: the talking skull Murray. Even more forgettable characters are fun to be around thanks to the superb voice acting, which in my opinion contributes quite a lot to the atmosphere.

The Bad
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I felt there was always something dark and slightly deranged in Monkey Island games. Admittedly, I liked the first one more than the second, which had a cynical break-up of a couple, dangerous voodoo rituals, and a spitting contest. But Secret also had unsettling scenes, and the whole premise of a ghost pirate ship lurking beneath a mysterious island was not taken lightly. The third game has lost that particular edge; it's funny, but it's not crazy enough - it's too tame. That's why I still prefer the second game with all its idiosyncrasies.

I have no complaints about the puzzles, but the game's structure is formulaic and not inventive enough. Just like the first installment, it begins with a search for a crew; each potential recruit requires you to undergo a lengthy trial of puzzles until you meet his whimsical requirements and he agrees to accompany you. The plot is also not particularly interesting, and instead of the weird ending of LeChuck's Revenge we are treated to a stereotypical final confrontation adorned with a disappointingly short ending.

I can't say I loved the simplified interface they carried over from Full Throttle. LucasArts' adventures have always been more restrictive than Sierra's, but at least specific verbs enhanced the interaction. Here, it's just basic pointing and clicking.

I think the game's main problem is excess of reverence. The designers clearly tried their very best to capture the elusive, enigmatic spirit of the series, but perhaps they tried a bit too hard, and failed to come up with a strong idea of their own. The game, therefore, feels like a respectfully designed, well-measured, tasteful tribute, but not the grand finale to the series that we were expecting.

The Bottom Line
Perhaps I'm being unfair to this undeniably well-crafted, solid game, but I can't help feeling underwhelmed by its timid adherence to the series' formula and its lack of dark and bizarre imagery that distinguished its predecessors. It's a characteristic example of what people call "good, but not great".

Windows · by Unicorn Lynx (181794) · 2016

The Monkeys are Listening

The Good
The Curse of Monkey Island (CMI) seeks to appeal to younger gamers, who were not familiar with the first two games. It also seeks to maintain its established fanbase, who had been patiently waiting years for the next entry in the Monkey Island franchise.

CMI looks and sounds quite impressive for a late-1990s, point 'n click adventure game. I think that the redesign of the characters (generally) works nicely, and the voice talents are some of the best seen in an adventure game.

I suspect that someone thought about developing the Monkey Island franchise into an animated film.

The story picks up where the second game ended and by the end of the 2-CD game, Guybrush will interact with plenty of old and new friends.

The gameplay mechanics are responsive and easy to learn. It is nice to see the point and click gaming given an update. If you played Full Throttle, another Lucas Arts Adventure game, then you will easily pick up the controls for CMI.

The Curse of Monkey Island offers high seas, sword fighting, cursed diamond rings, vegetarian cannibals, and, mostly the sort of humor seen in the first two games.

The Bad
The Curse of Monkey Island doesn't have much of the original Monkey Island designers involved. The creator of the series had left the company, and only one or two people involved with the previous games returns for this third entry in the Monkey Island series. It shows.

While I like the new character design, making the game look more like a cartoon does take away much of the "piratey" atmosphere seen in the first two games.

With few exceptions, the game never really captures an appropriate mood. The animation looks pretty, often stunning, but it doesn't really accomplish much in the atmosphere department.

Yes, the game is quite funny. The character design, game backgrounds and the like certainly help "sell" the on-screen comedy. However, when the game attempts to set a different tone/atmosphere, it is less successful.

The second criticism of the game is how unpolished the Carnival is. It is near the end of the game and fans were expecting to be able to actually explore the Carnival.

Instead, you get a few quick puzzles and lots of exposition. Apparently, the game was reaching its deadline, and stuff had to be cut (or left on the drawing room floor) near the end.

It's unfortunate because the rushed nature of the game is felt with the Carnival and the game's short ending.

The Bottom Line
The Curse of Monkey Island seeks to put the Monkey Island franchise into a Saturday Morning Cartoon. LucasArts hoped that the third entry in the Guybrush Threepwood Adventure game series would expand the fan base, while also keeping established fans satisfied. The Curse of Monkey Island is pretty looking, fun and funny. You cannot overlook the game's faults, but you also cannot resist the Curse of Monkey Island.

Windows · by Shamal Jifan (20) · 2017

Yet another gem in a lovable series.

The Good
The graphics are all hand-drawn and very colorful. It's amazing to see how beautiful Monkey Island looks in those high resolution graphics. On the graphics area this game is simply amazing. The characters are just as beautiful if not better. They are of cinematic quality and are animated very well. To put it short: This game simply excels at graphics. The sound is very good too. This game has more nice tunes you'll be humming along with soon, some of which are taken from previous Monkey Island games. But the most important improvement on this area and probably the entire game is the voice acting. It's done in a believable way and the voices fit the zany cartoon characters well. The gameplay remains the same point and click interface from the first two games but it's much easier to use now making it even better. You now can call up a special menu with the left mouse button that lets you manipulate, pick up, eat or talk to people or items with just three commands. With the right mouse button you can call up a box in which your items are all lined up conveniently, making it easier to combine items without too much scrolling. The story remains good and hilarious. Pirate wannabe Guybrush Threepwood has finally escaped from the theme park he was prisoned in by his arch-enemy the zombie pirate LeChuck in part two and is now lost at sea. Soon, however he strands on Plunder Island where he finds LeChuck and his girlfriend Elaine. LeChuck is always trying to steal Elaine from Guybush. LeChuck captures him and this is where it starts. After having found a diamond ring in LeChuck's treasure hoard to give to Elaine and having escaped the blast that kills LeChuck for the third time in history he lands on the beach. The ring is cursed however and turns Elaine into gold. You will have to find a way to lift the curse and finish of with LeChuck who returns from death this time as a demon. On this journey you'll meet old and new characters that will help you or hinder you and are all weird and hilarious. The humor is still here and yet another strong point.

The Bad
Some puzzles are really hard too solve. You can also try the easy mode but you will miss out on a lot of fun things that are in the hard mode only. This game isn't very replayable, too. It doesn't add too much new twist but fans may find this more of a blessing than a curse.

The Bottom Line
Another brilliant adventure game that lives up to the Monkey Island name. Fans and newbies alike will love it! Highly recommended!

Windows · by Rensch (203) · 2005

An Excellent Sequel to two excellent games...

The Good
First off, the game is funny as hell. A lot of the humor is subtle (like the "Myst" references when Guybrush first meets the Flying Welshman), but great. I especially enjoyed the scene that introduces Stan (who appears for the third time in the series). I laughed my ass off at that one. The graphics are pretty good too, the cartoony feel really gives the game the personality it needs. The first to were good, but the pixellated EGA/VGA graphics didn't quite fit the theme of the series quite as well as Curse's graphics do. The voice acting is top notch; it allows for some good gags that wouldn't work with just text. As far as music goes, I had no complaints. A lot of familiar theme songs were in the game, along with some new ones. Finally, the story wasn't too bad either. Towards the end, it finally explained why MI2's ending was so bizarre.

To sum things up: A great game! A+!

The Bad
The ending was way too easy and short. I didn't even have to peek at the hints for the final sequence. Also, some of the puzzles were way too obscure and senseless (at least for me), such as the tiki-mask puzzle on Blood Island. The game itself was pretty short too, although I only played the "basic" difficulty level. One more thing: the game doesn't make much sense (especially the ending) if you haven't played the first two games. Oh well, those are just minor issues.

The Bottom Line
A hilarious addition to Lucasart's universe of swashbuckling pirates and three-headed monkeys. Two Thumbs Up!

Windows · by Drew Dorton (71) · 2000

Lovable, beautiful; a masterpiece.

The Good
I loved everything about this game. This is my favourite in the series, and I will individually point out all of the features I adore:

Music - Probably the best music in the Monkey Island series. It is so imaginative and well put together - I definitely admire Michael Land for all of the wonderful pieces in this game, and they go amazingly well with whatever scene is present - whether it's happy music for the wonderful island of Puerto Pollo, or it's an anxious score for the rollercoaster chase at the end - it is all exquisite and deserves more recognition than it gets.

Characters - The character development is lovely. You get to know the ins and outs of all the characters by the vast range of speech options you can click, and you can explore all of their personalities as if you were really talking to them. Each character shines through outside of the screen into your mind, and this is valuable in a game. Guybrush's gullibility is so obvious here, as is LeChuck's uncertainty about what's going on, and Elaine's irritation and patronization towards Guybrush!

Graphics - Very cartoon style graphics are present here, which I find good. The puffy clouds become a trademark, so to speak, and the drawing of the backgrounds is lovely; all of which are very interactive and Guybrush makes his comments on all of the scenery and objects around him.

Gameplay - Somewhat different to the earlier games, but very good. It has become easier for people to learn how to play without imposing limitations, by simply 'looking' 'using' or 'talking', instead of all the 'open' 'close' etc. The humour in the game is brilliant, and I never ceased to smile while playing Monkey Island 3! The storyline is excellent and imaginative, and a lot of effort has clearly gone into the making of this masterpiece.

The Bad
There isn't much to dislike about this game in my view. On newer PCs you may encounter errors with the palette of the game, but this is fairly rare and shouldn't cause a problem - and can be cured with a save and restart of the application.

Other than that - Nope, nothing I dislike about this game!

The Bottom Line
Buy it - You will love it, and as with all the other MI games, it can be played at any age and be loved. While it can be enjoyed, unfortunately it is not always appreciated, and you must look carefully at everything they are saying on-screen, to fully understand the genius behind this game.

Simply brilliant.

Windows · by Quackbal (45) · 2006

Arguably the best computer game ever.

The Good
Well, I am a huge Monkey Island fan. On that level, this game sated my appetite immediately. Michael Land, LucasArts' lead music composer, has created a soundtrack worthy of being sold on CD. The voice acting is exceptional, particularly Dominic Armato as Guybrush. The graphics have a retro, 2-D feel, while still seeming cutting-edge; it's hard to tell when this game was made just by looking at it. In short, this game succeeds on all levels a game should succeed on.

The Bad
The only gripe I have with this game is that one of the puzzles was extremely difficult, to the point that if I weren't such an avid adventure game fan, I'd probably have stopped playing. One puzzle involves not only chewing gum and blowing a bubble, but inhaling helium first, so that the bubble will rise like a balloon. Without any previous hints at it, or help from walkthroughs, I can't imagine anyone who solved that puzzle on their own.

The Bottom Line
If you haven't played an adventure game, this is the one for you. If you haven't played one since the age of Maniac Mansion and Space Quest, this is the one for you. And even if you've played this game four time through already, this is still the one for you. A masterpiece on all accounts.

Windows · by lechuck13 (296) · 2001

Long Live Guybrush Threepwood!

The Good
The Curse of Monkey Island (1997) picks up sometime after the second game with Guybrush quickly getting trouble with the zombie pirate Le Chuck and, after turning her into a gold statue, his bride-to-be. The game offers new puzzles to solve, new locations to explore and, yes, plenty of wit, satire and comedy. LucasArts uses cartoon quality animation, CD quality music and has every characters voiced by some incredibly talented actors.

The Bad
While much of Le Chuck's back story is revealed, with some call backs to the first two games, do not expect to get a clear explanation about the fabled Big Whoop treasure or the actual secret of Monkey Island. Fans may need some time to get use to the new point n' click interface and, in the late 1990's, you needed a pretty powerful computer to run the game without some major slow downs Last, but not least, the Carnival on the second disc feels underdeveloped as does the ending.

The Bottom Line
Curse of Monkey Island is a great addition to the Monkey Island franchise by offer appropriate improvements to the series, while still respecting its comedic, graphic adventure roots. Look behind you! It's A three headed monkey!

Windows · by ETJB (428) · 2010

still well worth a look, although it's a drastic change from its predecessors

The Good
The graphics were technically flawless, the sound was awesome, the storyline was good (not excellent, mind you, but good), the jokes were mostly funny, and it's always good to rejoin your old friends from Monkey Island 1 and 2: Stan, the Voodoo lady, Lemonhead, Elaine, LeChuck, Wally, and so forth.

The Bad
Well, the change in style from Monkey Island 1 and 2 is very noticeable (of course it's been six years between MI 2 and 3), and quite a few fans didn't like it. To me, Guybrush was a little too cartoonish. Monkey 1 and 2 had serious graphics: remember Monkey Island 1? The ghost ship looked like a ghost ship and the lava cave looked quite frightening? The dialogues made the game funny, not the jokes. But it's mainly nitpicking. It looks to me that the designers tried to make the Monkey Island series more over-the-top with every new game in the series, and they shouldn't - the somewhat subtle humor made it so successful.

Elaine just isn't Elaine in this game - she was a strong stubborn woman in MI 1 and 2, and here she's a cartoonish chick with no own will. It's like a different person.

Where is Herman Toothrot?

Re-hashing the insult swordfight just seemed tedious and out of place. It had much more style in MI1.

Part V kind of sucked, all the puzzles were illogical, while the previous parts were mostly logical. Maybe it's just me. And the plot was much too linear. Do this on this island, move on to the next part. Remember the freedom you had in Monkey Island 2 when you could move freely between three islands? It seemed a lot less restrictive.

The Bottom Line
Wow, my "did not like" section looks a lot bigger than my "did like" section. I didn't quite intend it like that. Ron Gilbert's absence is noticeable. It's still a very good game and it was very nice revisiting old characters from the first two parts. But it's "good" when everyone expects it to be "great"; therefore a slight disappointment. Still, well worth a look. Monkey Island 1 is still the best game in the series, and I doubt that'll ever change.

Windows · by Gothicgene (66) · 2002

Another day, another Monkey Island 3 review

The Good
So this is LucasArts's third Monkey Island adventure after six years. It may not be created by Ron Gilbert like the previous Monkey Island games, but LucasArts made sure that all the spirit of these predecessors that made them very popular, exist in the third game. Once again you play Guybrush Threepwood, who places an engagement ring on Elaine Marley's finger, and, unfortunately for him, the ring turns Elaine into a gold statue due to the pirate curse that LeChuck has placed on it. In order to get the real ring, he must travel to another island far away. To make matters worse, LeChuck wants to marry Elaine just to piss Mr. Brush off.

Right at the start of the game, you will notice how Mr. Brush has transformed from a bearded and stubby pirate to a skinny dude who happened to grow overnight. The game is divided into six parts, and gives you the option of playing in either regular mode or Mega-Monkey mode. There really is no different between the two, except that you have to do more shit in Mega-Monkey, and if you happen to choose just the regular mode, certain scenes won't be omitted.

CMI has all the elements that The Secret of Monkey Island had. During the course of the game, you have to get a crew of three pirates to sail the seas with you, prepare to swordfight against some pirates, travel between islands, do a little business with some foreigners, and finally, defeat LeChuck once and for all.

If you have forgotten already, this first game required you to learn fifteen insults to use against Carla, the swordmaster. CMI is no different. There are new insults that you must learn. However, to initiate a swordfight, you do not click on a pirate anywhere on a map, but click on a pirate's ship, do a little combat out in the sea, and board his ship. The point with this particular rant is that there are some arcade sequences in this game, and some of them include using the cannon at the start of the game to sink boats with pirate skeletons on them, and going out to sea and bombing a pirate ship in order to get on-board. These sequences are fun to play.

The game features high-resolution graphics, but because 3D was not popular in the nineties, the graphics are still in 2D, just like the last two games. When I first looked at the graphics, I realized how Disney-like they were. Of course, CMI is not the only game with a Disney-like feel. I can give you a few examples such as Sierra's King's Quest VII and Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail!. The backgrounds and the characters that you interact with are hand-drawn nicely. When you get on-board a pirate ship, and start throwing insults at the pirate, the tone that they use to comeback at you with lines like "Oh, yeah?", "I'm shaking, I'm shaking.", and "I am rubber, you are glue." are the originals from MI1, but they sound great coming from different pirates.

Speaking of characters, some of them from previous games, including the voodoo priestess, Wally, and Stan, are back. Stan is one of the funniest characters in the game, and seems to change professions. First, he was a ship salesman, then he specialized in used coffins, and now, he's an insurance salesman. What is funny about him is that I really have no idea why he waves his arms. A new character that you will meet is Murray, the talking skull. He says nothing sensible but how when he comes back as a normal human, he is going to cause pain and suffering to the good samaritans, and how he wants Mr. Brush to join him.

And what good is CMI without some humor added to the mix? Occasionally, you have to laugh at what characters will do or say, or what appears on screen. I laughed at the way that CMI was written in the form of the THX logo, with the text "The Monkeys are listening" below it. Another example would be when the three pirates suddenly burst into song instead of just doing their jobs, and you have to make them shut up. Minor things include the false ending halfway through the game, and how you can get fooled into thinking that you can use 3D graphics.

Well, after six years, Lucas managed to incorporate the Monkey Island theme into the game, so that MI fans will immediately know that Lucas didn't fool them into thinking that this is actually something else entirely. This theme is also easier to remember. It was likely that fans would be singing the tune just before they decided to buy a MI game. I remember when an old friend from uni sang it when I lent him a copy of Escape from Monkey Island. The theme that plays when you are talking to voodoo priestess and Stan (from Monkey Island 2) is still there, but these are "revved" up.

The interface is pretty simple to use. Point the "X" anywhere until some text at the bottom appears. Right-click the mouse button to bring up a coin with three pictures inside it, allowing you to examine and pick up objects, or talk to characters or use your mouth on something. Pressing [F1] will bring up an open book, which will allow you to adjust several game settings, turn text and voice on or off, and save, load, and quit your game. During the game, pressing [SHIFT-W] will allow you to win the game, but I have no idea why you want to do this.

The Bad
All I can complain about is the ending, which is very short compared to other MI games. Normally, when I finish a game, I tend to sit back and watch the end credits roll by. The end credits in CMI are crap, and I felt that they needed more work. At the start of these credits, you have Murray saying "This is so unfair" and that's it. It wouldn't hurt to have him say different lines every two seconds, and that is what made him funny. The background could have changed so to make it have several other backgrounds rather than the animal skull at the right remaining static.

The Bottom Line
If you have played the previous MI games, my suggestion to you is try to play this one. The third game has much better graphics, and there is some humor and the gameplay that made the other MI games successful.

Rating: ***½

Windows · by Katakis | カタキス (43092) · 2005

No Gilbert, but still rather good considering what it had to live up to.

The Good
After years of waiting the world finally got to see another Monkey Island game, and save for the usual analy-retentive hardcore fanbase everyone was pleased with this return to the classic adventure game. And why not? The game returns to the classic point-and-click gameplay with an updated interface, clever puzzles and a remarkable technology face-lift courtesy of fmv cutscenes, full voiceovers and some of the nicest, crispier 2D graphics ever to come out of LucasArts.

The new story is rather dull compared to the old games, but frankly it could have been way worse, and in the end it's all just an excuse to set up gags and comedy bits. Which are, of course, quite amusing and fun. Sure, they don't seem to be "that" funny anymore, but I'm not the same kid that played Monkey 1 so long ago, and if you look at it, the wacky stuff is pretty much the same in all the games. I (and probably you too) am the one that has changed, it takes a little more than grog and pirates to make me laugh nowadays, but that doesn't mean the game is doing anything wrong.

The Bad
Some of the puzzles are waaay out there, like the one with the bubblegum and the teeth, it sometimes borders on the completely illogical and the gameplay goes to the dreaded "click on stuff 'till something happens" style.

Furthermore the story was a real downer when compared to the prequels, guess this is the area where Ron Gilbert is missed the most, and you can really tell that his dark, sarcastic touch added a lot to the games.

And what about that ending?? Where they in a hurry or what? That has to be the shortest ending sequence that I've ever seen in a game... "wham, bam, thank you m'am!"

The Bottom Line
Overall a great game, you'll miss Ron Gilbert (believe me, you'll notice he's gone) but overall a very solid Monkey Island game that has yet to turn to the "Monkey Island Reunion" feel you get in the next game. The original 2 are classics, but this one isn't a slouch either.

Windows · by Zovni (10503) · 2006

LucasArts' Heyday

The Good
This game is an example of why LEC was among the top 5 best game developers of the 90's. Heck, for adventure games, they were number 1 as far as I'm concerned. MI3 has got to be the most impressively orchestrated comical adventure game ever. The game comes together flawlessly in every way. The visual and audio quality are amazing. This game will never age.

While LEC of today is nothing as far as game developing goes, this game shows what they were back in 'the day.' The artists over there put out a beautiful, amazingly styled game with awesome atmosphere. The music is perfect as well with Michael Land and crew putting out their best ever, until The Dig anyway. Heck I can sit around and listen to MP3s of this game. Sound effects are equally amazing. The voice actors probably do the best of any game ever, especially Guybrush.

Come to think about it this game reminds me of a movie. The quality is just there. It has all the characteristics of a blockbuster big budget.

The Bad
How can a game which taunts you about it's 3D functionality in the options menu be given negative remarks?

The Bottom Line
This game is the peak of the mountain of modern comedic adventure games. If you can't enjoy this one, well, you should just give up.

Windows · by Deleted (33) · 2002

Am I the only dissenting voice here?

The Good
It's glossy and well put together. The puzzles are ok, and they've got 2 difficulty settings. Murray is nearly amusing and the soundtrack is classic, but it is from the original Monkey Island anyway. Some of the voices are perfect and don't spoil anything (Le Chuck). It's not a BAD game or anything. If it was released without the Monkey Island label I'd probably enjoy it more; since it has the label you assume the games are going to be similar in some way, and this one ain't.

The Bad
The graphics, despite being quite artistic and well drawn (especially the clouds), are just wrong. Guybrush has been mutated. His height has tripled and he looks younger. In fact according to sources, he IS younger. Apparently Guybrush is 20 in this one, yet he's 21 in Monkey Island 2. The characters pixelate and look a little ugly when they go into the distance. The game seems very aware of the quality of it's predecessors, so bounces ideas and jokes off them frequently. But it's changed everything about what made the first 2 games so sublime. The magic has gone. I know it's unrealistic to say the game should never have used speech; but these old characters are immortal and it shouldn't have been done. Guybrush should never have a voice, not that the guy who does it is in any way bad because he's not, but because it immediatly ruins the character that your subconcious plants in in your brain. The text of the first 2 games meant that you could give your own voices to the characters, and you could laugh at the quality of the writing instead of the delivery of it. Imagine if someone remade the first game with speech, all those funny lines of dialogue would have to be read out perfectly so as to keep them funny. It's hard to explain. But this is why so many scripts are better than the films or programmes themselves. Ever read Calvin & Hobbes? Imagine if a voice actor did Hobbes voice. Travesty. Anyway back to the game and everything...Monkey Island 3 is not funny. It's just not. All the parts and lines seem overracted in case we don't get the joke or something, and often the joke is needlessly explained in detail by some overly hyperactive character. This is again why it would be better without speech. Turn it off, just use text. It's better. The insult swordfighting, once great, is tacked on unessecarily. Though not quite as shamelessly or as pointlessly as Monkey 4. The locations aren't that interesting. The game didn't really need to made considering the ending of the 2nd, which was terrific. It would be better if it stopped while the series was legendary as it once was. They could have made an original game instead of a sequel, but then it might not sell I guess.

The Bottom Line
A solid and good game, but a shadow of it's parents. Slick, stylish, glossy, yet charmless. Lacks the Ron Gilbert magic that was so present in the first 2 and unfortunately does something to dampen the allure of them as well. The 2nd was worse than the 1st (barely), the 3rd is worse than the 2nd, and the 4th is worse than the 3rd. Stop now for the love of God and make a game like Grim Fandango again.

Windows · by Shazbut (163) · 2002

As LucasArts is to LucasFilm, Curse is to Return of the Jedi

The Good
I should probably start this review by stating outright that Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge is one of my sacred cows. The game is everything good about the adventure game genre, and one of the best presented computer games of all time. It achieved feats of sound design that to this day are barely matched or even attempted. It is, as one might figure, a hard act to follow.

Curse tries. First on its list of attempts is a visual update. The backgrounds are still hand-painted, and look nice enough, if drab in comparison to MI2's. Unsurprisingly LucasArts overhauled the animation entirely, going for a 'theater quality' style with low detail and high animation. This same craze of "Disney-like" animation had swept through, and killed off, the rest of the adventure game genre earlier in the 90s, so it's no great surprise that it got to LucasArts eventually too. Unfortunately the new style of animation with thin lines and flat colors did not mesh well with the SCUMM engine's 3D perspective feature, and rooms had to be designed to be as flat as possible. The few times that actors walk into the distance they lose all definition like a low res sprite run through 2xSai too many times. Still, this was a limitation the team was aware of, and they worked around it where they could.

Curse could hardly even have hoped to have matched MI2's sound design, seeing as how the latter had been both a showcase and advertisement for the iMuse system itself. Music (aside from one hilarious musical interlude) ranges from good to appropriate, but never quite reaches memorable. The voice acting is excellent, easily living up to the precedent set by Sam and Max and Full Throttle. While some of the choices for characters that return from earlier games do not match how I would have imagined them speaking, they all very obviously got into their roles fully, and every line of dialogue (which are 100% voiced) is entertaining on its own just due to the actor's particular inflections. In fact out of the entire cast the only dud as far as voice acting goes is, as it happens, the primary character Elaine, but she is a topic I will be returning to shortly.

Puzzle-wise Curse is a mixed bag. There are returning puzzles from earlier entries in the series, and they are all weak, but the new puzzles have a few standouts. "Adventure game logic" is for the most part absent, and the solutions to problems are usually logical based on the circumstances and world. In fact one puzzle requires you to throw out "video game logic" entirely and solve a problem how you would in reality. It's a shame that they didn't have enough of the good puzzles to make a full game out of.

The Bad
The problems with Curse probably start with the absence of one element: Ron Gilbert. Gilbert had envisioned Monkey Island as a trilogy that would have had a very distinct ending in its third installment. The aberrant details of Secret and MI2 would have come to a head as the nature of Monkey Island and Guybrush's place in it would become apparent. Ending a franchise, however, is not at all what Lucas or the development team had in mind. They weren't making a game, they were making a Monkey Island game. What resulted in Curse is the best example of why fans should never be game developers.

The details of MI2, especially the ending, were a curiosity put next to the pirates and voodoo and the humor of the rest of the game. Unsurprisingly these elements of the game were exorcised entirely, written out in the most ham-handed way possible as just an illusion and display of LeChuck's magic powers. The team had no interest in developing the series toward an ending or goal of any kind. They were fans of piratey fancy, and now that they had control over the series they were going to make the piratiest, fanciest game they possibly could.

Curse was where the series began its unfortunate descent into self-referential humor, pulling out past jokes and themes to remind you, yes, you are indeed playing a game with Monkey Island on the cover. Secret ended its first chapter with a hunt for crew members, so therefore this game too should end its first chapter with a hunt for crew members. Secret had a highly quotable puzzle based around insulting opponents, so if this game has one of those as well, it will be just as quotable and memorable (admittedly it is well written, but that doesn't prevent it from being any less needlessly derivative). MI2 ended with a fast paced battle of wits and inventory puzzles with LeChuck, so bringing that back will make the ending of this game just as exciting (unlike the last point this one was not done even remotely as well as the previous game's).

In fact of all the things to be brought back from earlier games, the most glaring, and least surprising, change from the earlier games is also one of the greatest crimes of writing in the history of computer games: the complete and total character derailment of Elaine Marley. Elaine was the first strong, well-written female character in the history of electronic gaming. When Samus Aran was still hiding her gender, and half a decade before Lara Croft had any snappy comebacks to Atlantean demi-gods, Elaine was running an island of scoundrels and vagrants and, in her off time, working out how to deal with that annoying ghost pirate in the area. The protagonist Guybrush Threepwood went out on a heroic quest to save her from the clutches of LeChuck upon her disappearance, only for Elaine to reveal she'd never been kidnapped at all; she'd just gone out to look for some way of putting an end to LeChuck herself. In previous Monkey Island games there was a plot of romance between herself and Guybrush, but Elaine breaks it up, twice even, because Guybrush is an entirely impossible person to live with. Elaine's reaction to Guybrush falling to certain peril and possible death at LeChuck's hands in the closing hour of Monkey Island 2 was 'Oops.'

Suddenly, in the weeks between that and Curse's opening Elaine is bemoaning the lack of a Threepwood in her life, unsure if she can go own now that LeChuck has taken from her ' the only man (she) ever truly loved.' In the opening of Curse's first proper chapter Elaine is incapacitated and, shortly thereafter, kidnapped, and only Guybrush Threepwood is capable of saving her. Worse yet, upon being rescued and revived, Elaine is, before the cutscene has even ended, incapacitated and kidnapped again. There exists a storyboard of a cut movie where Guybrush and Elaine fend off a group of LeChuck's henchmen before being overwhelmed. I find it very telling that, when pressed to make a cut to the game for budget or time reasons, the developers cut out the one part where Elaine does anything of any competence or significance.

If they had to cut anything they could have cut out that misplaced ship combat minigame. As a hack of the SCUMM engine (like the optional highway minigame of Sam and Max and the motorcycle combat of Full Throttle that could be solved either through action or thinking) it's interesting, but pointless and contrasts heavily with the remainder of the game. I feel it was put in as an apology from the developer to the customers who were not "dyed-in-the-wool faithfuls" of the franchise. 'We're sorry,' they are saying, 'that our game only has dialogue and puzzles. Please enjoy this part of the game that reminds you of other games you have played.'

The Bottom Line
When Return of the Jedi originally came out it was blasted by fans and critics alike for being so underwhelming compared to the bar set by The Empire Strikes Back. Over the years, however, that perspective has been lost now that Jedi can be compared to Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Yes, Curse is a better game than Escape from Monkey Island. This does not mean that Curse's quality lies halfway between Escape and MI2. For all its Slave Leias (honestly Murray is one of the better things to exist in the MI franchise as a whole) Curse is a fundamentally damaged product that did its part to kill the adventure game genre by just not caring about itself or its medium beyond superficial elements. Perhaps others can play Curse for its few bright spots, imaging them as being part of a proper adventure game of the caliber LucasArts was, at one time, capable of producing, but I can only see it for everything that went so wrong.

Windows · by Lain Crowley (6630) · 2010

Nice for Monkey Island fans

The Good
I'll be brief and let me just keep it more to the point...

  • I have mixed feeling about the new cartoon style graphics. For one thing, the graphics are not pixelated anymore, they are stylish and sharp. The animations feel smooth and are of great quality.

  • The usual point and click gameplay style is solid. The new inventory system was an improvement.

  • The character voices are well acted, cartoon voice style. The sounds and music are indeed of film quality, maybe even better.

  • The story. Despite Ron Gilbert not being involved in this sequel, I think the people who created it did a very good job in connecting the story with the events of the second and first game. This sequel is not only a proper continuation, it explains successfully what happened in the bizarre ending of the previous game (which many people hated). Quite frankly I was somewhat impressed.

  • The tone and sense of humour of the game world is just about right for a Monkey Island adventure I suppose. Some jokes are spot on; the cultural references are there; the characters are colorful.

  • I found some puzzles very challenging and original. The game gives the player possibilities of puzzle solving order and exploration. The length of the adventure is more than adequate.

    The Bad
    - First of all, bear in mind that I find the whole Monkey Island thing a bit overrated. I'm a grumpy gamer, I admit. These adventure games with juvenile stories in the middle between the totally absurd and the comedic are not my favorite genre. They just don't hook me. Maybe I'm getting too old for this but I found it way too infantile and sometimes lame; I felt some irreverent humour was missing (I like Simon better than Guybrush).

  • I personally didn't like that cartoonish style too much. It kind of makes more sense to the tone of the game, but I just didn't like it (see above).

  • The puzzles here do advance the story and the goals are clear, but I was disappointed with some nonsensical solutions. The game also features unconnected solutions you get to find before the problem arrives. Those are called backward puzzles.

    The Bottom Line
    I would still recommend playing it if you enjoyed the previous games. I preferred MI 1 and 2. They are funnier and let you use more your imagination. But nevertheless we do see a leap forward in graphics and sound after the intermission.

Windows · by Czar Husk Qi (27) · 2009

Yikes, I turned the woman I love into a gold statue!

The Good
EVERYTHING an MI fan could hope for! I laughed most at two points, while visiting the vegetarian cannibals, and while listening to and watching the "Bottomless Mug Policy" sequence. MI 1 & 2 were good, but this game has succeeded in beating it's prequels with humor, fun, & graphics. Oh yeah! The wonderful Monkey Island music has really used the new abilities in digital-world to make the originally great music MP3 quality!

The Bad
I have MI in my e-mail address, do you really think I would find anything wrong with this game?

The Bottom Line
Listen, this is a great game that anybody, except maybe die hard fans of violent shooters, should enjoy, as the voodoo lady would say, "I advise you to buy this game..."

Windows · by Jim Fun (207) · 2002

The king of adventure games.

The Good
It really is amazing. Every time a Monkey Island game comes out it manages to top the last title. The story is loads of fun with the same humour and comic charm of the previous MI titles (whoever came up with the hilarious pirate song in the middle of the game deserves an award). Graphically this is about as good as hand drawn 2d art gets. The backgrounds are all lavish cartoon art and the characters are brilliantly designed. Several favorites from the first MI games make a return along with some great new characters like Murray the evil talking skull and the hilarious Captain Blonebeard who runs the local chicken shop. Voice acting is flawless. Everyone has so much character and brings a brilliance to the game that text sentences just can't capture. Music is equally brilliant and never sets a foot wrong. The puzzle difficulty also makes a return so that novices aren't left in the cold.

The Bad
Nothing! well maybe that boat section in the middle of the game. The arcade aspect is a little dull but it can be turned off if you desire.

The Bottom Line
I can barely believe it but I think this is the greatest Monkey Island adventure of them all. Any adventure fan simply must get it with the exception of purists who think that if a game wasn't made when speech was only text then it should be ignored.

Windows · by Sycada (177) · 2002

An enjoyable sequel, but unfortunatly uncreative at times

The Good
As always, the standard Monkey Island humor we all know and love was present in this game. The story was also done very well, in the four-chapter style of Monkey Island 2.

The Bad
Unfortunatly, this game has a good deal of "filler" in it. The insult sword-fighting, a "plot device" from the first Monkey Island game, reared its head again. While some of the lines are amusing, it really gets old and repetative after a while; one wishes they could just skip over that part of the game, and continue with the story itself. Luckily, though, it only makes up a small, but time-consuming part of the game.

Some of the puzzles weren't particularly clear; there was an amount of random inventory-experimentation involved in solving some of them.

The Bottom Line
While not as enjoyable as its predecessor, this game does shine at times - I'd recommend it, despite my complaints.

Windows · by Dave Schenet (134) · 2001

An elephant in Ron Gilbert's porcelain shop

The Good
Game designer/programmer Ron Gilbert is the equivalent of a folk hero for several thousands of old school adventure game fans. He was the brain behind 1987's Maniac Mansion, a seminal graphic adventure game with unprecedented atmosphere and storytelling; the brain behind 1990's The Secret of Monkey Island, another milestone that took absolutely everything about adventure games to the next level; and the brain behind 1991's Monkey Island 2, an epic, refined and outlandish piece of art that I seriously believe is the best adventure game ever made. He left LucasArts soon after for reasons that were discussed to death.

Monkey Island 3 has nothing to do with Ron Gilbert. It has everything to do with LucasArts' greed to make some new bucks off the revival of their flagship adventure game series several years after Gilbert's departure, when LucasArts was very probably faced with diminishing sales and critical reception.

This game's popularity baffles me. Then again, maybe not, as I can see where it's coming from. Monkey3 is like an Indiana Jones film NOT directed by Steven Spielberg, or like a Harry Potter novel NOT written by JK Rowling. It lacks the soul of the series, or worse yet, it is replaced with a different soul. Obviously, this is not sensed by those who dashed through the originals in a superficial way. It is only felt unanimously by fans who embraced Monkey1 and Monkey2 to their hearts, or were even obsessed about them, like I was in my late teens. See, not obsessing about a game series is no sin. (In fact, the world probably doesn't need more hardcore game geeks.) But trying to argue how a counterfeit entry to the series is on a par with the true classic entries... is plain wrong. Monkey3 has superior graphics and music compared to the originals, which seem to have dazzled several gamers, but this is the only upside I can think of.

The Bad
Monkey Island 3 was designed and led by the Ackley-Ahern duo, with only one of them present in the team of Monkey2 (as an animator). While they prove to be capable game developers by and large, in the delicate, nuanced, semi-serious, and very personal world of Ron Gilbert, they move and thrash around like a particularly clumsy elephant in a porcelain store.
Regardless if they do or do not understand what made the original games work, they prove utterly unable to emulate their general weirdness, their general Ron Gilbertness. Now it's hard to define this Ron Gilbertness in mere words and give it a semblance of justice -- but for the purposes of this review, we can try: bittersweet, spooky, unpredictable, odd, offbeat, atmospheric, enchanting, smart, subversive, tragicomic and poignant; definitely poignant. The design in Monkey3 sometimes manages to be remotely spooky and/or atmospheric (the theater scene comes to mind), but that's where similarities end.

The Bottom Line
Aimed squarely at prospective new fans who were probably still preteens during the run of the original Monkey Island games, Monkey Island 3 is an OK if unremarkable adventure game when taken strictly in isolation. It looks well, plays well and sounds great. But it's not a proper Monkey Island entry. What LucasArts does here is effectively betraying the old fans (and Ron Gilbert himself, I guess), and producing something lighter, less profound, less edgy and more "PG" than Monkey Island 1 and 2, all for the sake of catering to a "fresher" audience. Out of cold calculation, the Monkey Island soul is replaced by a cheaper, downsized one that proves incapable of emulating the feeling, mood and peculiar jokes of the original, despite trying hard.
All this results in that no real fan of the series would honestly cheer this game. They just feel it's fake, like a changeling. What is there to cheer about an Indiana Jones movie deprived of Spielberg?..

Windows · by András Gregorik (59) · 2011

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Tim Janssen, Patrick Bregger, Wizo, Scaryfun, monkeyislandgirl, Stelios Kanitsakis, Alsy, Luis Silva, shphhd, Cantillon, Havoc Crow, Kabushi, Caliner, Utritum, ti00rki, Xoleras, garkham, Apogee IV, Alaka, Emmanuel de Chezelles, Jeanne, Karsa Orlong, kelmer44, deepcut.