Monkey Island Retrospecticus
Part I
The Secret of Monkey Island

Written By: Jeff, Gringo, Joe, Darth-Phenom, Pirateking

You'd never know it from meeting our mothers, but this fine website was built right atop a graveyard brimming with festering monkey corpses and spectres of graphic adventure games from the nineties. In other words, to put it in normal English, the majority of people behind this website would never have intermet and this groundbreaking website very well may never have even come into inception were it not for the LucasArts Entertainment Company game series known as Monkey Island. I'm not going to go into the extraordinarily boring and embarrassing history of how and why this is the case, but, suffice to say, it is and I would have no good reason to make up something this geeky, now would I?

That said, in anticipation of the forthcoming remake of The Secret of Monkey Island and the new Tales of Monkey Island games, a number of us (but not all) have reconciled our differences over the death of Michael Jackson (most specifically which of us was the most responsible) and have come together to bring you an enthralling, original, unique, brilliantly crafted, and fresh-scented Monkey Island Retrospecticus. So come with me now and behold a bunch of dorks rambling on the Internet about some video games you've never even heard of.

Oh, one more thing before we get into the pure sex. I want to thank Jeff for making us all incredibly cool, tiny images to put next to all of our names (as well as all the other images). It gives the whole thing an air of pretend officialness.

 GRINGO SAYS: I like this game!

You want more of my opinion? Okay! It's a charming adventure game that probably could have done without any sequels (though thankfully number two in the series was a winner). Sure, the graphics look dated these days, but I find it hard to say anything bad about this game.

Hmm...I found something! It doesn't really inspire you to replay it -- which is one of the reasons I'm unsure whether I'll bother with the pending special edition of the game -- and there are several parts of the game that feel like a chore rather than entertainment.

Still, for nostalgia alone this game gets a pretty high ranking on the Gringo Fun Scale (C)(TM). Plus, I like the section when you're carrying about a decapitated sassy head as a navigation tool.

 JOE SAYS: First off, I have to reveal my horrible secret. Not the one about the dead cats stuffed with falafel and sold to yuppies as an "ethnic delicacy" because, frankly, that's something I've grown to be proud of, but, rather, the fact that I don't find the Monkey Island series in general to be all that funny. I've seen so many people refer to it as "the first game that ever made me laugh" or "that one adventure that tickled me persnickety" or "that piece o' technology that jangled me funnybones" or, really, just the first thing so I've always been left wondering if there's something I'm missing. But, no, I think I'm right. As that cat-falafel thing I said clearly proves, I have an almost offensively refined sense of humor and, while I think these games once in awhile accidentally stumble upon something comedic, usually I just read through the dialogue unresponsively and then continue on my merry way through the adventure.

I think the reason the humor mostly fails is that these games suffer from a plague that affects almost all video games, that being a script written by people who are also programmers or graphic designers or what have you. Even now, in the day of the multi-jabillion-dollar video game, it's still far from definite that a team will hire a professional writer to spruce up their intellectual property, so you can be sure that, back in 1990 when this game was released, nobody was behind the script 'cept a bunch o' chubbers and their nerdy friends. Therefore, for me, the humor runs the gamut from either being way too corny (lol, piranha poodles!) or so bloody eccentric that it comes off like an in-joke. For example, one of the oft-mentioned sequences in the game that's supposed to be classic is this part in which protagonist Guybrush disappears behind a door and the game takes control as you watch it apparently play itself. A bunch of crap you can't really see happens like Guybrush picking up books, pushing a red button, and trying to pull and push a yak. I get the whole "Oh look it is crazy and inane" thing I guess, but I'm always left wondering who exactly laughs out loud at the phrase "It's a big, ugly, hairy yak wearing some wax lips." Everyone who's played the game except me, evidently.

But I didn't come here just to lambast a classic adventure title. For one thing, I played it before I was even a teenager so there is a chance that, even if there was some decent humor in there, it might have been lost on me. (But I mean, come on, the lead character's name was derived from the filename originally made for the character's sprite. If that's not proof of how drenched in geek-humor this thing is, I don't know what is.) Two, more importantly, is that, despite the humor never much impressing me, I still hold these games near and dear to me. So why is that?

Well, gameplay-wise, this is a pretty good adventure game. It's not a great one and there are some questionable puzzles, but it's pretty good and was exceptionally open-ended so you could solve the majority of the puzzles in whatever order you desired. Further, and I think this is most important for me, is the style. The story in this one was even fairly straightforward, but it's more that it's a pirate adventure and involves you becoming a pirate through a series of relatively pirate-based tasks and then getting a crew and going on a trip to a mysterious island. Though I'm far more partial to the atmosphere created by the art and Michael Land's soundtrack for Monkey Island 2, this game started it all and certain things like the nighttime look of Melee Island with its abundance of blue and purple backgrounds, the evil ghost pirate LeChuck's theme song, the part where you travel to hell, the soothing Melee Island map theme, and the title screen with the first ever rendition of the game's extremely catchy theme song are all moments that I am unlikely to forget, barring some severe head trauma in my future. Yay, head trauma!!!

So The Secret of Monkey Island is what it is. A rather strong start to an awesome series. I suppose I'll play the remake, but I'm not hugely jonesed for it because, well, it's the same game, isn't it?. All I'm really looking forward to is finding out if they got Dominic Armato to say "dmnkly" and, if so, how he pronounces it.

 JEFF SAYS: The Secret of Monkey Island was the fifth adventure game I ever played with the first being the NES version of Maniac Mansion followed by Konami's port of King's Quest V on the same system. From there it was a bootleg copy of Leisure Suit Larry on a friend's computer and then The Adventures of Willy Beamish on the Sega CD, that's how I found out about Monkey Island. After finishing Willy Beamish, I headed to a Funcoland a few towns over to look for something similar and happened upon the first game in the series thanks in part to Steve Purcell's fantastic cover art.

Before I knew it, I was "Somewhere in the Caribbean" guiding Guybrush Threepwood on his journey to become a pirate. Now I got the basis of the joke right from the start, a loving satire of pirates woven into a tale of romance and adventure but things just didn't click with me at first. Traveling to the Scumm Bar and meeting its patrons, including the greatest pirate known to fiction, Mancomb Seepgood, helped my mind readjust to the yarn Ron Gilbert was spinning. The odd Rubber Chicken with a Pulley in the Middle got a chuckle as did learning the art of insult sword-fighting but, still, something was missing and that's when I met Stan.

The moment I was greeted by Stan in the shipyard I just stared at the screen, laughing for who knows how long. There he was, wearing a bright pink and blue checkered coat, launching into a ridiculous sales pitch with his arms flailing wildly with each word. The more time I spent there, the funnier things became as he proceeded to show me all the "amazing" ships he had for sale, flawlessly channeling every shady used car dealer in existence. It was at that point that I really began to enjoy the game, I finally got it.

I guess it took a while because I've honestly never played anything like it before, but here was The Secret of Monkey Island, the video game equivalent of the film, Airplane!. A self-mocking world with the player in the role of its most oblivious citizen, encountering absurd situations played straight despite how many turns for the stupid things took. So, with a fresh mindset, I went all the way back to the beginning (Sega CD load times be damned) well prepared for what awaited me beyond Stan's Previously Owned Vessels and enjoyed every minute.

Looking back, it's probably one of the best blind buys I ever made and sold me on the other LucasArts adventure games when my family got our first PC way back when. Even to this day I recommend the game to people. It held up pretty well and with the release of the Special Edition, those bastards can't use the "It's too old to run on my PC" excuse.

 PIRATEKING PHONES IT IN: The Secret of Monkey Island is a very well put together game, but definitely not the best in the series.

 PHENOM SAYS: I'm having trouble starting off the Monkey IsIand reminiscence. For you see! The memories do indeed abound in me. How foolishly did I once believe I could escape the clutches of fabulous Monkey Island deep in the Caribbean but somehow her mystery draws me back. Yes, I thought I was done with this silly little series and now I could join the normal world of the normal people who don't pretend they are comedic pirates but ah... how very futile of me. It would be akin to a Star Wars fanboy enjoying his daily anal rape by wookies suddenly claiming to prefer the rare pleasures of Star Trek. Futile indeed!

Yes, we Lucas fans somehow still sticking with it after decades of such frivolous fiction which ended up ruining our lives and any potential we might have hoped to garner. Why, you may ask? What do we see in actually making a real religion out of George Lucas's imagination or dreaming of one day embarking on our own piratey adventures like my good buddies of Somalia did only to face the full wrath of the Trekkies in their real-life Enterprise destroyers? Well, I suppose there is no easy answer to that but I will attempt to explain my own obsession.

You see, back as a young lad I somehow stumbled across a used copy of Monkey Island 2 in a certain dodgy gaming shop and instantly fell in love with the antics of the young pirate Threepwood. I suppose I enjoyed the game because unlike the endless Sierra frivolity I was accustomed to at the time, here was a game which was genuinely funny, something self-proclaimed "comedy genius" Al Lowe could never quite muster. Now after completion of the game, it somehow dawned on me that this particular creation seemed to be a sequel of some kind. How I came to that conclusion still baffles me to this very day! I still had no Internet access at the time so I believe the knowledge of a prequel must obviously have had some supernatural origin.

However, it would be a number of years before I would actually get around to experiencing the original grand adventures of the legendary Guybrush Threepwood as finding a copy proved to be impossible. It was only due to the profileration of the warez sites of the late '90's that I was able to download the game. You young 'uns never knew what life was like before the magical advent of torrents, now didja? I still recall my excitement that the downloaded package did not contain a single virus and was actually the genuine article! Yes, such a things were a rarity back in them days.

Now the game has special meaning to me as I was left all alone at home on my birthday and I happened to download the game on that very day. I also seem to recall that TNT cancelled their European broadcast of WCW Monday Nitro (ah, WCW, them's were some good times for us true rasslin' fans) that very day so I was so terribly depressed. Back then, we didn't inform our facebook friends of our depression, we had to suffer in silence. So I was happy as a pedophile's penis anally raping a young Cambodian child when having Monkey Island 1 as my only company on that fateful day.

I very much appreciated the fine VGA artwork and how I laughed at Elaine Marley's infamous campaign slogan: when there's only one candiate, there can be only one winner. Genius! A certain Iraqi president would take this slogan very seriously indeed. I understand he was quite a Monkey Island fan but sadly the Trekkies got wind of that and Captain Kirk promptly had him hanged.

I still think the Voodoo Lady is really quite a babe but so ever misunderstood. Being right in the middle of town didn't really suit her lifestyle, I understand that now. She was more Delta blues and reggae than your white hipster-hop music. The good church-going whitey folks of Melee Island didn't quite understand her way of life. I suppose she was just too heterosexual and too black for the Michael Jackson fans, whom are mostly white. Some people were not thrilled that this author rejoiced his rather fortunate passing but eh... they think charlatan hoodoo is the same as true voodoo.

On that note, did you know that Melee Town was actually based on a real-life town in Germany? It is quite true. You can find pictures your damn self. Or look here:

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, I believe it's called. And you thought the Lucas artists were original? Hah, it is to laugh! I assume that in reality the infamous 10 o'clock always clock works. I never did understand why the programmers were unable to create a working clock. It really is not that hard. Although I suppose if they did that, they would have to create a day-night cycle and would then be accused of appeasing the RPG geek crowd. Oh, the folks who played adventure games were just so way cooler than their RPG counterparts. Anyway, I suppose Melee Town was always quite functional and they did make it look far better than it does in reality and were able to create something truly atmospheric which lives on to this very day in the hearts and minds of all proud Monkey Island fans. For love is patient and enduring and only love can endure the harshest tempests and indeed it is love for the happy memories of Melee which keeps my heart chained in her wondrous embrace and now I must be hit by a bus.

The sword-fighting thing seems to be what the critics still praise about the game and I suppose they were indeed quite hilarious although collecting new counter-insults all the time did prove to be a tad on the tedious side. But for such hilarity, ten minutes of tedium can surely be forgiven, can they not? At least it was a hell of a lot better than the usually terrible arcadey mini-games Sierra always forced upon us. Sadly, insult sword fighting proved a little too popular what with all the livejournal and facebook communities and whatnot dedicated to the er, sport, and coming up with insults is more difficult than one might think with most attempts being downright ridiculous. I still remember an IRC insult fight with a certain Scandinavian chap quite unused to the perplexities of the English language. He somehow believed that "you fighter like pigs" was pure genius on his part. "How appropriate, you're used to feeling up your mom's piggy body?" I still reckon twelve years later that that is a winning counter. Unfortunately, our beloved channel moderator thought otherwise. Oh, Skyfox, where art thou? How greatly missed thou art!

I could go on for many minutes more recalling my memories of this truly immortal classic but I think the other writers could share my experiences for me. I would just like to say that Just Adventure is still utter pants and I remember very well how they gave this timeclass adventure a lousy C-. Truly unforgivable heresy. Oh, how we enjoyed sweet revenge on their punk asses! I guess I could really say that Monkey Island 1 turned a rather miserable birthday into quite a happy private party as I stayed up all night savouring its delights. But I still miss WCW. Both WWE and TNA are both just parodies of what pro-rasslin' is meant to be. WCW always had a Major League feel to it which the WWF simply lacked. Heh, you get kids today who think that nancy boy Cena could take the 300 lb. Goldberg. Same kids who never heard of the legendary Monkey Island 1. Gonna bust a cap in this new generation's cellphone loving, facebook-addicted punk ass.


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