Gaming, Gaming and Technology, OldVenue

Retro Column: The Secret of Monkey Island

Originally released in 1990, The Secret of Monkey Island has developed a cult following almost unparalleled in the gaming world. Released by Lucas Arts and developed by Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer, The Secret of Monkey Island is often regarded as the peak of the point and click adventure game era in the early 90s.

You play as Guybrush Threepwood (strong contender for the best named video game character of all time) in his quest to complete three pirate trials of Melee Island, defeat the ghost pirate Le Chuck and save Governor Marley. However, rather than fight your way to the damsel in distress, as in most games,  Guybrush is required to gather objects, solve puzzles, and win sword battles with insults.

Often praised for its wit, meta-humour and hilarious dialogue, as well as cleverly crafted puzzles, The Secret of Monkey Island was that rare breed of game that managed to be infuriatingly challenging and yet at the same time irresistibly compelling. As is the case with most games to include Schafer on the development team, most of the puzzles had a fiendishly clever and yet deceptively simple solution, often leaving the player chuckling whilst simultaneously kicking themselves for not figuring it out sooner. High points include treasure hunting for T-shirts, navigating past piranha poodles, and the tussle with the town sheriff that gets interrupted by a “big, ugly, hairy yak wearing some wax lips.”

In 2009, Lucas Arts released The Secret Of Monkey Island: Special Edition, a remake that, while leaving the original story and gameplay untouched, came with a completely redesigned art style, re-recorded soundtrack and full voice acting. The new control scheme earned some criticism for being slightly confusing and less intuitive than the original’s, but the gorgeous art work which fully captured the Caribbean aesthetic and the frankly astounding soundtrack more than made up for this. The ability to easily switch between the original and the special edition style also did a lot to satisfy purists and nostalgic fans.
The Secret Of Monkey Island: Special Edition is now available on XBLA, PSN, Steam and even the App Store, so there’s no excuse for not going out and picking up what is undoubtedly one of the most clever, most amusing and most enjoyable games to contain dim witted cannibals, a beverage made from kerosene and a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle.


About Author


joefitzsimmons After a year converting to the Canadian dieties of Tim Horton and Sidney Crosby, Joe is now entering his final year studying American and English Literature. He can usually be found either wasting time on those pointless videogames, injecting Siracha hotsauce directly into his bloodstream, or screaming at his laptop in the hope his dissertation will write itself, often alternating in quick succession.

April 2021
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