Top Ten 80’s-90’s Games!! (1#)

30 01 2008

1: MONKEY ISLAND (1990 and Beyond!)

First of all I need to state that the only reason Day of the Tentacle is not in this Top 10 is because it is the best game EVER! (see my previous post).

Ooooh yes! The Monkey Island saga is known throughout the gaming world and is considered some of the best adventure games ever.

Monkey Island is the collective name given to a series of four graphical adventure games produced and published by LucasArts, originally known as LucasFilm Games through the development of the first two games in the series.
The games were created as a collaborative effort between Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman. Gilbert worked on the first two games before leaving LucasArts. Grossman and Schafer, who also worked on the first two games, would enjoy success on other titles before both of them also left. The rights to Monkey Island remained with LucasArts, and the third and fourth games were created without the input of the original writing crew.

In ‘The Secret of Monkey Island’ – the game that started it all. You control the hero Guybrush Threepwood who wants to be a pirate, but he quickly learns that he must go through three trials to become a pirate. On one of his quests he meets the lovely governor Elaine Marley and falls in love with her. Just as he thinks everything is perfect, she gets kidnapped by the evil ghost pirate LeChuck.

In Monkey Island 2 – LeChuck’s Revenge Guybrush Threepwood returns in his search for the legendary treasure of Big Whoop. He is now a genuine pirate and has traded in his white shirt and clean shaved face for a dashing blue coat and a beard. This would not be a true sequel if we did not see the return of the villain LeChuck and so, in the true spirit of Monkey Island, Guybrush accidentally help bring back LeChuck who, of course, wants revenge. The game itself has evolved much since the original. It feels about four times bigger and includes four different islands. Some of the puzzles are very hard and therefore you can select to play the game on “easy mode” for beginners.

 

The Monkey Island series is full of spoofs, in-jokes, humorous references, and Easter eggs: so many, in fact, that entire web sites are dedicated to their detection and listing.

Running gags include lines such as “Look behind you, a three-headed monkey!”, the introduction “My name is Guybrush Threepwood and I’m a mighty pirate”, “How appropriate, you fight like a cow”, “I’m selling these fine leather jackets” (a reference to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure), and “That’s the second biggest XXXX I’ve ever seen” (and in EMI “That’s the second bigg… No, that’s the biggest conch shell I’ve ever seen!”), and the astounding fact that Guybrush can hold his breath for 10 minutes.

 

Many parallels have been drawn between the series and the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. This would be very appropriate since Ron Gilbert has openly admitted that sections of Monkey Island 2 borrowed extensively from the original Disneyland ride, such as the famous “dog holding the keys to the jail-cell”. However, he has also said that he thought the second movie (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) may have ‘borrowed’ from the Monkey Island series too, due to many similarities (e.g. the cannibals, the coffin Jack Sparrow uses as a boat, akin to that used by Guybrush to find the Voodoo Lady, as well as Tia Dalma’s hut built on the bog, very reminiscent of the Voodoo Lady’s hut in the second game, and Jack Sparrow’s line “Look! An Undead Monkey!” is reminiscent of the line “Look behind you! A three-headed monkey!” from all four Monkey Island games).

Each game in the series features cameo appearances by Steve Purcell’s characters Sam & Max (who were featured in their own LucasArts adventure game, Sam & Max Hit the Road). The pair appear as voodoo idols in the first game, as costumes in a costume shop on Booty Island in the second, as toys in LeChuck’s demonic carnival and as light-formations at the theatre (in Mega-Monkey mode) in the third and as one of the possible aliases for Pegnose Pete in the World of Prosthesis puzzle in the fourth scene from Escape from Monkey Island.

Hmmmm RIP-OFF??

None of the games explicitly reveal the “Secret of Monkey Island” (although creator Ron Gilbert has stated that the secret was not revealed in any of the games, and that the true secret would be revealed if he got to work on the fifth entry in the series). LeChuck himself, when asked in the second and third games, refuses to answer the question; Guybrush can eventually prod LeChuck to confess that he does not know what the secret is.

There are many theories popular among players, and at least one case can be made from each game in the series. One of these theories states that the bizarre revelation at the end of MI2 is the true secret of Monkey Island (again, Ron Gilbert has confirmed that the secret is yet to be discovered, in an interview with GameSpot). The fact that it was debunked in CMI, the theory states, is merely a retcon by the new development team after Ron Gilbert’s departure. Elements in the closing scenes of MI2 seem to support this theory, as do certain comments of pirates in the insult swordfighting section of the first game, asking Guybrush to “play along”. Members of the CMI team (many of whom were also part of the MI2 team) claimed at one point that they knew what the original secret was: that the storyline of the games was simply the fantasy of a child. Gilbert, however, has contradicted this in various interviews, saying that he never told anyone what the true secret of Monkey Island is. A large article about the subject can be found here.

Gilbert stated in a 2004 interview that when the game was originally conceived it was considered “too big”, so they split it into three parts. He added that he “knows what the third [part] is” and “how the story’s supposed to end,” indicating that he had a definite concept of the secret and a conclusive third game.

A fifth Monkey Island game has been rumored (and is the source of jokes in the fourth game), although no official word has been released from LucasArts. One significant hint at this is in the fourth game, when both the Voodoo Lady character and Guybrush make claims about involvement in “an unbreakable five game contract.”, similar to references made by the Voodoo Lady throughout the series. The company’s cancellation of the planned sequels Full Throttle: Hell on Wheels and Sam & Max 2: Freelance Police may indicate a strong reluctance to produce new graphic adventures.

During television network G4’s coverage of the 2006 E3 Convention, a LucasArts executive was asked about the return of popular franchises such as Monkey Island. The executive responded that the company was currently focusing on new franchises, and that LucasArts may return to the “classic franchises” in the next decade.

Keep your Fingers Crossed Peeps!

 

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