The Secret of Monkey Island
for PC (VGA)
Also available for: Amiga (OCS/ECS)

Herr M.:Popular Vote:
Company: Lucasfilm Games
Year: 1990
Genre: Adventure
Theme: Cartoon & Comic / Misc. Fantasy / Humour / Pirates
Language: English, Deutsch, Français, Castellano
Licence: Commercial
Views: 17015
Review by Herr M. (2018-01-06)

Ask yourself: What can be said about a game that has become a legend? You either know about The Secret of Monkey Island, and chances are that if you are reading these lines you do so by heart. Or you spent your life in a bubble far away from computer games of the pre-Internet era and do not care about them anyway. The game must have been analyzed to death by now, each and every detail investigated and explained. It would come at no surprise if the there even have been scientific papers written about it. Top it of with a plethora of personal stories connected to the game and it must have outgrown its humble beginnings by far.

Is it not fascinating that it was this game in particular to gain the fame of being the point-and-click adventure? Could it have been any other game or was this the pinnacle of adventure gaming? In hindsight it is really hard to say because you cannot escape the hype, the reputation the game has gained by now. If you really could play it without any prior knowledge you most likely would be put off by dated graphics, lack of content and limited controls, because Guybrush has aged quite a bit. You could only compare it to contemporary titles, but nowadays it is really hard to tell who copied from whom and how much of this game is really original.

Yet on the other hand: Is not the mere fact that there are video games – like this one – that have become part of popular culture even more astounding? Maybe there are other games that would have deserved it more (or on the other hand less), at the end of the day it was Monkey Island which could be a prime example for computer games becoming art. A bold statement for sure, but to some degree this is the Mona Lisa of gaming – at least as far as adventure games are concerned.

Like with that most famous of all paintings opinions might differ, because tastes differ after all. E.g. while I have to admit that it is a great game, it still is not my favourite. There is a bit too much anachronistic silliness to my liking, the last act falls a bit short and speaking of endings: In my opinion the sequel almost ruined the series (that stupid twist!). Also, I will never forgive Monkey Island to make death in adventure games so unpopular, at times even unthinkable. But then again I do have some really fond memories of the game and still get quite a bit of entertainment out of replaying it once in a while.

Overall it is still a prime example of good game design (just three words: insult sword fighting) and it is cool to play a game that has become a bit more than a couple of bits and bytes, more than a fleeting impression. From time to time it is nice to revel in the glory, relive those days of old and rekindle the spark, exchange some thoughts with other people or to put it shortly: (Re)join the Monkey Island experience.

So, what is keeping you from sailing deep into the Caribbean and sharing a traveling report?

Comments (8) [Post comment]

Mr Creosote:
Now available on the C64, but rather a kind of illustrated text adventure.

A timeless classic with an ingenously twisted sense of humor, gorgeous pixel art and a main theme that gets stuck in your head for decades to come.

Where Maniac Mansion set the bar for solving puzzles by different approaches to get to the goal, Monkey Island was paramount in its effort to avoid player frustration by eliminating death of the player character and carefully designing the puzzles so they don't become unsolvable by accident, something the competition didn't bother with at the time.

There is actually one spot where you can die, but it's actually more of an easter egg rather than a threat to the player. And later on the game actually spoofs the infamous Sierra adventure death screen only to put you right back on the screen, which had me cracking up so hard back then.

Thank you Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer, Mark Ferrari and Michael Land for crafting this beautiful game.

yes the old monkey island that was a real cult game
If I got any other kind of answer I was planning to say "If it's known, there it is not a secret". But seriously, Ron Gilbert said there is really a secret of Monkey Island, just I suppose it's a reference that only makes sense to him.
Mr Creosote:
There is... but if you knew what it was, it wouldn't be a secret, would it?
Was there even a secret on Monkey Island?

Dueling insults was one of the most creative ways to get around violence in games I have ever seen and one of the funniest too.

Just when you think you seen the best part of this game another scene comes along that is even better and it plays like that all the way thru the entire game.

This was a great time for computer games. I only hope that some day designers learn how get past the traps of building games for the graphics and special effects instead of designing them foremost to be entertaining and fun.