Look behind you… A THREE-HEADED MONKEY!

Okay I lied there isn’t, but it would have been cool right? No? Oh… I suppose had best get on with the article then.

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Deep in the Caribbean, a young man sets out for a life of adventure and glory as the mightiest Pirate in the Caribbean… his name…

…Guybrush Threepwood.

That’s right folks we’re talking the best point and click adventure series ever made, Monkey Island.  The games that cemented point and click adventures into gaming history. The series was born in 1990 from its loving parents Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman under the watchful eye of LucasArts and what a perfect creation it was. Delivering scripts of hilarious witty quips and puzzles that made you think outside of the box. The games even broke the fourth wall in parts, when characters would reference the fact they were in a game. The series is made up of; The Secret of Monkey Island, Monkey Island 2: Le Chucks Revenge, The Curse of Monkey Island, Escape from Monkey Island and Tales of Monkey Island.

The games were originally made using the SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion (another LucasArts adventure game) and gave us the iconic interface at the bottom of the screen. This was referenced in-game by the Scumm bar where Guybrush goes to meet the three pirate lords. This game and engine was made with the idea of being “player friendly”, unlike other games in the genre made by Sierra and Infocom where the game can become unwinnable and character deaths were common. LucasArts decided to steer away from that and got it perfect with Monkey Island. The closest you come to death is when Guybrush is tied to an Idol and dumped in the ocean, good job he can hold his breath for 10 minutes… what a talent!

Curse of Monkey island was the first in the series to include voice actors and allowed Dominic Armato (a huge fan of the series) to lend his voice to Guybrush Threepwood. It also brought about a new art style instead of the 16bit look the first two games had. It also removed the iconic interface and replaced it with a coin which allowed you to pick up, talk to or examine objects and characters.

Next came Escape from Monkey Island which brought Guybrush and company into the 3D world and a weird incarnation of insult sword fighting in the form of Monkey Kombat, a mechanic that was unnecessarily confusing, but still funny nonetheless. It also got rid of the point and click movement to be replaced with keyboard controls and the new (at the time) Lua programming language to replace SCUMM scripting language which also saw to the replacement of the Scumm bar for the Lua bar.

The latest instalment was not released by LucasArts but rather TellTale Games in 2009 and saw Guybrush’s latest adventure turn into an episodic adventure of five episodes. By now most of the point and click elements have disappeared from the game to make it more console friendly, but it does not detract from the fact at its heart the game is still the same humorous adventure you started back in 1990. Guybrush’s evil right hand really steals the show in this one.

Also in 2009 we saw the HD remake of the first two games released on PC, Consoles and Mobile which had a special feature that allowed you to flip between the new HD version and the original 16bit. It also included the voice actors used after the original games were released.

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Our Mighty Pirate is followed up by two other main re-occurring characters in the form of, Elaine Marley, Governor of the Tri-Island area and Guybrush’s one true love.  Then there’s the Evil Ghost/Zombie/Demon Pirate Le Chuck determined to also marry Elaine and make her his undead queen.  The love triangle is the main plot for the games, as Le Chuck will use every ounce of his Voodoo magic to separate Guybrush and Elaine and take her for himself. But unfortunately for him, Guybrush is one resourceful guy and with the help of the mysterious Voodoo Lady, manages to save Elaine and end Le Chuck’s current undead form.  More unforgettable characters include:

Murray the Demonic Skull. He calls himself the object of pure evil, and dreams of spreading chaos throughout the Caribbean. Although he is just a skull (after Guybrush destroys his body using a cannon) he seems to get around the islands a lot easier than any other character. Also Stan The Salesman, the man who could sell water to a fish, whilst waving his arms at the speed of light.

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Some of the fantastic features included in this game made it a cult icon. The most famous of all theses is Insult Sword fighting. Rather than creating a mechanic to sword fight in the game, the creators came up with a genius idea to make the fight dependant on the verbal mockery you wailed at your opponent. Unfortunately to progress through a sword fight and to learn all the insults and replies you will lose a few fights. But once that final insult reply is discovered nothing can stop you from becoming the greatest insult sword fighter in the entire Caribbean.

No more wandering around replying “Oh Yeah” or “I’m rubber, you’re glue”  if some smelly pirate says “You fight like a Dairy Farmer” you can proudly hit him with the correct and demeaning “How appropriate, you fight like a cow”

As of now the future of the series is surrounded by mystery and rumours. With Disney having no interest in continuing the series, it is suggested that original creator Ron Gilbert wants to buy his baby back (Come on Disney, do the right thing!) and to give it a new lease of life, and finally reveal the real secret of Monkey Island…hopefully…. one day.

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