We’ve long been a fan of LucasArts’ 1997 classic point-and-click adventure the Curse of Monkey Island. A PC title, it did an unusual thing and mixed an exceptional script with humour, puzzles, and glorious aesthetics. Heck, as it’s 19 years old this year we’ve decided to honour its brilliance.
The Curse of Monkey Island was the third game in the Monkey Island series, with the first two appearing on the Amiga during the early 1990s. The latter two were graphically rather basic, but by the time of 1997 technology had advanced to allow LucasArts to define their vision with an absolute masterpiece of humour and adventure. It’s something rather special, so onwards me hearties, to uncover the truth behind Monkey Island!
The Curse of Monkey Island
LucasArts doesn’t develop video games anymore, and when you look at titles like this you have to wonder why. There’s a strong case for this being the funniest video game of all time, as there’s so much imagination and charm going on here.
The plot’s based on Guybrush Threepwood, a bumbling and amiable young man who is attempting to become a mighty pirate and win over the love of his life, Elaine. Unfortunately, he accidentally curses her and she’s turned into a solid block of gold. In an attempt to cure her, he sets off on an adventure to get her back to normal.
Off you set in this point-and-click game. This means the player uses their mouse to observe their environment, which includes talking to the people you meet to gather information, picking up objects, and solving the puzzles you come across. As you do, the narrative progresses!
The game’s genuinely witty and hilarious and possesses a wonderful script. The latter is particularly rare in video games (LucasArts managed it again in 1998’s Grim Fandango), which we’ve ranted about a lot in 2015. Many modern developers force you to sit through awful cut scenes, and we’re getting pretty sick of it.
Not so in Curse of Monkey Island! It’s stuffed with charming characters who you want to spend time with. The protagonist Threepwood is fantastic enough, but he’s surrounded by a bunch of oddballs who bring the game to life.
Murray the skull is a highlight. Threepwood accidentally decapitates one of LeChuck’s horde, and the skull (Murray) reappears regularly throughout the rest of the quest. Possessing a demonic voice, and ignoring his inability to move, he bellows and roars incessantly about destroying humanity and taking over the world. As he’s completely ineffectual, of course, he’s a source of great laughs. He also ends most of his discourse with the stock “Bwahahaha!” for good measure.
Other highlights include the quite deranged Captain Blondebeard (obsessed with the “Demon Chicken”), the Flying Welshman, and a particularly amusing moment when one is introduced to the despicably horrifying Skull Island. Furthermore, this is all backed by the wonderful artistic style, excellent voice acting, and the legendary music.
Professional Moron has long advocated the use of an excellent music in video games – a strong soundtrack is much more important than graphics as it creates atmosphere and a stronger emotional response.
Video game music is often forgotten in the modern world, dismissed as artistically redundant as it’s in a game. This is a real shame as it’s a period of extraordinary creativity and people should be turning their attentions to what talented individuals such as erstwhile Rare musician David Wise, Ubisoft, Nintendo, and dozens of other companies are creating.
Case in point, the Curse of Monkey Island! This one has a soundtrack to die (presumably from scurvy) for, as we’ve highlighted with the intro music above. If you’re inclined to hear more, you can indeed listen to the whole thing below.
How to get your Fix
Great, so you want to play it, right? Irritatingly, despite its critical acclaim, it isn’t available on Steam. As highlighted further below, its predecessors have had a makeover and a re-release, as has the company’s 1998 point-and-click follow-up Grim Fandango, but no Curse of Monkey Island. What gives? The problem here is old PC games don’t run on new ones, so an army of fans can’t play the Curse of Monkey Island. It’s truly a First World problem beyond comprehension!
Okay, so you can’t play the Curse of Monkey Island, but you can play the fantastic earlier instalments of the game. They’ve received a complete makeover, musically, artistically, and with a full voiceover cast.
They are the Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge. You can pick them up in a double pack from Steam and, by heck, they’re also an absolute joy to experience. Now we need someone to bring the third instalment to the masses. Here’s hoping. Bwahahahaha!