#348 The Curse of Monkey Island

Posted: 25th August 2019 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

809th played so far

Genre: Adventure
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 1997
Developer: LucasArts
Publisher: LucasArts

I’ve always loved The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island II and it was a treat to revisit them for the blog. I’m not as familiar with the third game, having played through it only once, but I’ve been excited about revisiting it. It’s prettier – a step up this time – and I recall some interesting characters as well that I want to see again – Murray became well known for a reason. This should be one that I’ll be able to finish for this write up – I’m looking forward to that.

Our Thoughts

Although Ron Gilbert is no longer involved with the series, Curse of Monkey Island for the most part still feels like it. It doesn’t explain much about the ending of the second game, even if we return to some of the concepts later, but just handwaves a lot of it away. Instead, we get dumped in the middle of a fight in a couple of semi-tutorial scenes – short, one or two screen rooms that have you figure out puzzles one by one while introducing some new characters. I’t s aoog dway to get used to the new interface, and feels natural – only with hindsight does it feel like it’s showing you different bits and pieces.

What happens is the same as other games – you travel across several islands, each with their own set of puzzles, in this case tracking down how to undo the curse that turned Elaine into a golden statue. There are some decent chunks of puzzle here, with the first full island paying off the best. It introduces a bunch of neat characters and while it repeats some concepts (like the pirates you need to hire) it works well as a decent set of objectives. I wish it carried over for a bit longer, as the end feels a bit rushed, and while there are some callbacks, on a whole it feels a bit disconnected. I’m not sure if it was rushed or intended, but it didn’t feel as satisfying as the ends of the other games in the series.

At the same time, the puzzles don’t feel as obscure – I needed to get a bit of help with pixel hunting, but for the most part beyond that it felt more straight forward. The lack of death obviously helps, but it’s nice no matter what.

Graphically the game looks a lot better than its predecessor, going for a cartoony look that LucasArts built through over time. This is probably at its height – a higher fidelity than Day of the Tentacle while not going for Full Throttle‘s grittiness. It works well, making the zaniness more acceptable and it makes it a lot of fun to watch in the first place.

Final Thoughts

At this point, it feels like we’ve reached the pinnacle of LucasArts adventures – aside from the other titles mentioned, this was followed by Grim Fandango as the first 3D title. It also led to Escape from Monkey Island, a far worse sequel that feels misguided in how wrong it went. Still, I enjoyed this game and revisiting the world – there are a lot of interesting scenes and ideas in it, perhaps not in a way that came together in a whole as well as others, but it felt like it created a better, easier to follow game than before.