The Secret of Monkey Island
Shiver me timbers, laddie. Youngsters like you need to be careful if you wish to survive Monkey Island. Fates worse than keel hauling await those not up to the challenge. Voodoo curses, ghosts, and witch doctors are but a few of the many obstacles you'll encounter. Landlubbers listen closely, and I will tell ye a tale of treasure. Long ago a vicious pirate named Chuck found a secret entryway into an underworld. Filled with lava; it was. He met an awful fate, but he left behind more booty than you can imagine. Guarded by his ghost, no one has ever been able to steal his treasure. Will you be the first?
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Lucasfilm Games, best known for a line of historical flight simulators (BattleHawks 1942, Battle of Britain and Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe), is a name that has become synonymous with quality computer entertainment. Both of their previous role-playing releases, Loom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, were phenomenally successful, despite the fact that the former suffered from a lack of endurance. The Secret of Monkey Island is an intermediate-level adventure that falls between its predecessors in terms of difficulty, a benefit it gains from an extremely friendly interface.
Players assume the role of Guybrush Threepwood, an intrepid young man in search of fame and fortune, somewhat misguided and influenced by the less savory inhabitants of the Scum Tavern. Our man aspires to become a pirate by completing three quests: stealing an idol from the governor's mansion, finding some lost treasure and defeating the Sword Master in combat.
Naturally, the first order of business is to explore the surroundings. Fortunately for those who detest mapping, elaborate note-taking is not required for most of this adventure. Several areas are not readily accessible to the player initially, such as the governor's mansion. In addition, even after the Sword Master is found, she will have nothing to do with the player (Lucasfilm should be applauded for using a female character in a role that many would consider only appropriate for a male hero). Solving these dilemmas is just part of the fun.
The initial problem to face is the severe lack of funds. To correct this, take a trip out of town to explore the wonders of nature. Somewhere out there lies a circus. Get an act together, and it might be possible to make enough money to buy the treasure map and a few digging tools.
While journeying abroad, the player comes upon a bridge guarded by, of all things, a troll. Combat is not in order here, which is good, since the character has yet to develop a proficiency at swordsmanship. Instead, try to appease the troll by getting what he is looking for. You will then be able to cross the bridge, where combat skills may be learned. While abroad, it is also possible to find something of use to fend off the dogs guarding the governor's mansion.
Once the initial three quests are solved, the ghost of the infamous pirate LeChuck appears and kidnaps the governor. The player must now initiate the rescue. This requires a ship and crew. Finding a boat is the easy part, one has only to visit "Stan's Previously Owned Vessels." The crew can be recruited from the various vagrants that remain on the island, but don't expect to sail the Spanish Main with these inferior tars.
From this point onward comes the meat-and-potatoes portion of the game, and it would be unfair to spell things out too explicitly.
The control interface for Monkey Island is superb. Standard adventuring commands appear on a control bar under the main display. Also, the player can point and click on items on-screen to have their character walk over and take them. The frustrations experienced in other games, where one has to lead their characters through furniture-strewn rooms to stand on precisely the right pixel, are not part of this game.
The colorful locations used are just as colorfully illustrated, particularly in VGA, and the overall thrust of both the content and graphics reminded me of the Disney ride Pirates of the Caribbean.
The Secret of Monkey Island is an amusing game and is fun to play as well. All gamers who even remotely enjoy this type of adventure will delight in hours of fantasy enjoyment.