Escape from Monkey Island

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Genre:     Adventure

Developer - Publisher:   Lucas Arts

Released:   2000

PC Requirements:   Win95/98/2000/ME, 100% DirectX, Pentium 200 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 4MB graphics card, Direct3D graphics accelerator card, 14x CD-ROM drive, keyboard, 195 MB of free hard drive space.

Walkthrough   Walkthrough  Walkthrough

 

 

by Becky

In this, the fourth Monkey Island game, the player first encounters Guybrush Threepwood as he returns from his honeymoon. Marriage and experience have added a whole new dimension to our hero -- he is somehow less gangling and awkward, and he is wearing a snappy new scarlet suit. Unfortunately, he is also tied to the mast of his own ship, writing feverishly in his journal as a battle rages around him.

Little does Guybrush know that he is about to stumble his way through a hilarious series of conundrums, challenges and humiliations on his way to saving the Monkey Island way of life. This time, the arch villain he must defeat is Ozzie Mandrill, a sort of Australian version of Walt Disney bent on making the "pirate experience" into a theme park for tourists. Ozzie's scheme involves ousting the current pirate Governor (Guybrush's wife Elaine), hiring a cast of fake pirates and exiling the real pirates until they can be reeducated enough to fit in with his new, plastic "civilized" society. Ozzie is a wonderful villain -- dastardly, clever, plausible, ruthless and virtually unstoppable. His one mistake: tangling with a hapless but persistent pirate wannabe.

This is the third time I've hung out in a game with Guybrush, and his personality is really starting to grow on me. At first, I thought he was mostly just a naive good-time boy who made me laugh. Later, I chuckled at his incarnations as a tofu-headed sacrifice victim and a giant demon chicken. But somewhere in the middle of "Escape from Monkey Island" I began to admire him and feel strangely protective of him. By the end of the game, he was much more than just a cartoon character. I was actually becoming annoyed at the other characters for their inability to see that, in his bumbling way, Guybrush is a genuine hero. He never gives up, he doesn't run from trouble, and he always comes up with an absurdly zany denouement that brings him out on top.

Other impressions of the game: the out-of-doors locations in EMI are colorful and tropical, with fantasy-type piratical-themed buildings. A particular favorite -- the spectacular swathe of night sky at the game's beginning with thick, swirling clouds. Interiors are detailed and quaint. IMHO, 3D has greatly added to the game environments, and this opinion is coming from someone who was skeptical about switching away from 2D. It is interesting to see some of the locations from the original game in their higher-resolution, 3D versions. It's like a quick glimpse at the history of adventure gaming.

The writing is terrific. This game has one of the best collections of hilarious one-liners that I've encountered. There ARE a fair share of inside jokes. There are also bad puns, references to various aspects of popular culture, religious jokes, lawyer jokes -- the game traverses a vast expanse of snide-comment territory. To a few one-liners you will respond: "huh?", and this can be mildly annoying; but the great majority of the humor will be enjoyed by everybody.

There are a lot of wacky characters in EMI that add to the enjoyment of the game. The non-player characters are almost all larger-than-life caricatures, but they complement the game's whimsical themes and locations perfectly. The voice acting is very good; the tone never gets too serious or goes over the top with hilarity (well, not often anyway).

The puzzles/challenges are a varied assortment. Some are tricky, some are goofy, some are easy, a few are outrageous, some (particularly the timed puzzles) are frustrating, and one (the Mysts O'Tyme) is brilliantly original. I thought the Monkey Kombat sequence was fun, although the final Monkey Kombat solution is confusing. There are no sliding tile puzzles. There is one extremely clever maze.

The keyboard control in general can be a pain in the neck. It is difficult to search for a tiny, yet vital item in these huge game environments, while using a character that moves awkwardly and imprecisely, bouncing every-which-way off invisible barriers that instantly turn him in an opposite direction. I know other gamers disagree strongly, but I think that the mouse is easier to use and helps create a more immersive experience for this kind of game.

I played the game through twice. It crashed to the desktop three times. Also, I encountered one slowdown and a locked resources problem that was solved when I applied the patch (the patch was easy to apply and did NOT erase my previously saved games). However, one problem that was not fixed by the patch was a fairly consistent inability to move smoothly forward. Sometimes, even when there was nothing obstructing his path, Guybrush would not move forward until I moved him backward a couple of steps first.

The game seemed plenty long the first time I played. The second time, I followed the walkthrough closely, and I was surprised at how quickly the game raced by when I performed only necessary actions. Progressing precisely as the walkthrough instructs results in missing a lot of fun extra stuff. There are many little details in the game that are only appreciated if you really take your time.

Final Grade :  A

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