Hello dear readers and welcome, rather belatedly, to part 2 of Shoot the Rookie’s new feature – My Favourite Series. Today I will be looking at a series of games which was one of the first I ever played – the wonderful Monkey Island!
I don’t actually remember how or when I was introduced to the magical point and click adventure series, but it was back in the dim and distant past when video games did not have quite the same variety that they do today. Up until that point I’d played a few platform adventures and a few text adventures (although I’m not convinced I ever finished one – maybe they weren’t designed for 6 year olds?). Monkey Island however changed me as a gamer forever. I didn’t realise until playing it just how awesome video games could be. Or how infuriating. Or how they could be meaningful connections you share with other people in your life, or even help you to make new friends.
So then! Why is Monkey Island one of my favourite video game series? Lets find out!
Be warned, there are *spoilers ahead*.
Games Played from the Series: The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge.
Favourite Game in the Series: The Secret of Monkey Island
Favourite Character from the Series: Elaine Marley
What do I like about it…?
Monkey Island was one of the first games I played that had proper characters. They may be a little caricatured to pass for real people but the games’ principal characters – Guybrush Threepwood, Elaine Marley and LeChuck, are memorable and unique. Despite his ineptitude, cluelessness and general ridiculousness, I pretty much fell instantly in love with Guybrush when he stomped onto Mêlée Island determined to become a pirate. My heart was stolen again upon meeting Elaine, the Island’s governor. To this day she remains one of my favourite characters in any series because she is tough, determined and for the most part thinks Guybrush is an idiot.
There are also a number of subsidiary characters who add a bit of intrigue and absurdity to proceedings, particular favourites of mine being Stan of Stan’s Previously Owned Vessels (and in the second game, Stan’s Previously Used Coffins…) and Mêlée Island’s elderly Storekeeper, if only for his tendency to greet Guybrush with the line “Ahoy there, fancy pants!”.
As you may have gathered from the mention of ‘Stan’s Previously Used Coffins’, this series is funny. For me this may be the single best thing about it. From a giant monkey head with elaborate catacombs beneath it, to people with lemons for heads or Guybrush pretending to sell fine leather jackets, these games have all the best funny stuff! What really makes it stand out is that the humour runs across all elements of the game. There is a lot of visual humour (such as the giant monkey head), and there is also lots of hilarious dialogue, but the gameplay itself can also be very funny, such as the use of comedic dialogue choices as a device to win sword fights. I’m sure all of us here know the correct response to “You fight like a dairy farmer!” right?
Despite Monkey Island being an old game, it really did look gorgeous, even before the remasters surfaced. It uses the perfect colour pallet to create a Caribbean vibe, and has enough different settings that it gets to play about with design a lot. The nighttime scenes in Mêlée and Scabb Islands are full of deep blues and bright yellows, whilst they get to use lots of red, orange and purple to add atmosphere to the catacombs. In old point and clicks like this you feel like every single pixel has a huge impact and in that sense you really appreciate each little detail in the graphics of the Monkey Island series.
On the one hand Monkey Island is just a classic point & click puzzle adventure. Actually, you don’t really need another hand after that – that is enough by itself. Its pacing is good and its puzzles absurdly difficult (hello? A rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle?), all adding up to make for a cracking adventure. It is also interesting to me that they made it so Guybrush can’t really die. There are a few easter eggs where you can kill him I think but in the normal playing of the game you can’t really lose. I like this because in most games I die frequently and repetitively and end up getting annoyed and giving up, but with this the only way in which you are stuck is by being stuck on a puzzle, and although it may not be entirely rational, I greatly prefer that!
In reality by ‘music’ I just mean one tune. THE tune. The best tune ever from anything. If you are not familiar with this tune then you absolutely have to listen to it right now. Here, I’ll even leave you a wee hyperlink so you can find it! This piece is one of my favourite pieces of music of all time. It has been my ringtone for about 15 years. I think the thing that makes me like it so much is how well it fits with the game. You first hear this music on the original games’ title screen and are immediately transported to the Caribbean by it. It is kind of beautiful yet hostile, bustling yet lonely and serious yet humorous. It truly is the sound of Mêlée Island and beyond.
Monkey Island is one of the best series ever made. It is so much fun, has such good stories and is so bloody difficult that it is unforgettable. It will always have a special place in my heart as one of the first games I truly loved. Whilst there may be little future for the series itself, it is nice to know that with the success of modern games like Thimbleweed Park, there is something of Monkey Island‘s spirit haunting the screens of adventure game lovers to this very day.
So, what do you think? Is Monkey Island one of your favourite video game series? What are your reasons for liking it so much? Do you think I should broaden my horizons and play the other games in the series? Let me know all your giant monkey head related thoughts below in comments!
Thanks for reading,