Our ongoing recap of MonkeyThon09 continues!
Part Three: The Curse of Monkey Island
Now, “The Curse of Monkey Island” is far from perfect, and I would still like to see what Ron Gilbert’s original plan for the third game was, but I enjoy it a lot. It somehow retains the Monkey Island magic while having a unique feel not found in the first two games. It took me a while to get used to the cartoon style, but now I like it, although I wonder why Guybrush is quite THAT tall and scrawny. Still, the backgrounds are gorgeous, and there’s one element that is ABSOLUTELY perfect: the music. Michael Land, please compose the soundtrack to my life!
December 5th, 2009. 1:56 AM.
The intro to “Curse” contains another Disneyland reference that actually hadn’t clicked for me before I went this summer and rode “Pirates” again: the banjo music in the opening menu is very reminiscent of the banjo player on the porch in the bayou, before you enter the cave. Which, in itself, is almost reminiscent of “Deliverance”, which would make a very different theme park ride. (And later in this game there’s a puzzle based on “Deliverance”, like every family-friendly cartoon adventure should have.)
1:58 AM. “Captain’s log. Guybrush Threepwood.”
I still remember how amazed I was the first time I heard Dominic Armato’s voice. It was almost the exact Guybrush I had always imagined. When I discovered later that he was a huge fan of the series before being cast, it warmed my heart.
2:16 AM. “MUAHAHAHAHAHA!”
Enter Murray, the Bender Bending Rodriguez of the Monkey Island universe! Murray is a delightful addition to this game, played masterfully by Denny Delk. He pops up just the right number of times to make a great running gag. Sadly, he’s completely wasted in a pointless cameo in the next game, but his appearance in “Tales” makes up for it.
2:23 AM. “That’ll show her how much I truly care!”
The biggest inconsistency in “Curse” is LeChuck. He’s reduced to a not-particularly-threatening goofball…but he’s voiced by the fantastically awesome Earl Boen, and his look later in the game with the flaming beard is one of the coolest looks he ever has. If this look and voice were combined with his terrifying personality from “Revenge”, he would be the greatest game villain of all time.
Somewhere between the two games, Elaine’s opinion of Guybrush shifts from “annoying immature ex” to “THE ONLY MAN I’VE EVER LOVED.” I guess thinking he’s lost forever to LeChuck’s horrible spell will do that, although she seemed kinda nonchalant about hoping he wasn’t under a spell at the end of the previous game.
Around the time Elaine turned into a gold statue, I turned into a tired Dave, so I took a break for a long winter’s nap. I resumed…
December 5th, 2009. 11:00 AM.
Plunder Island marks the first “opening island” in the series set during the daytime, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. This is an island that looks populated, something lacking from some islands in the series. Additionally, there is a tremendous attention to detail, with the tourist plaques and the chickens running rampant.
The Voodoo Lady takes a lot of credit for doing things, when she really only taught you how to do them. This should’ve been Guybrush’s first clue that she is not what she seems.
1135 AM. “Where every haircut is an adventure.”
Cutthroat Bill’s delivery of this line is just awesomely creepy. The barbershop trio are fun characters, and it’s a special delight to hear Alan Young’s famous Scrooge McDuck voice coming from Haggis McMutton.
11:40 AM. “We once had a tenor named Dominique, but he left.”
The whereabouts of Guybrush’s old barber might be the real secret of Monkey Island!
I decided to do something a REAL dastardly pirate would do and leave Cutthroat Bill choking for a while. I went off and explored the island some more, including dueling Van Helgen, all while Bill choked on his jawbreaker.
This is the secret Max cameo (with a disappointing lack of Sam), only seen when you leave Van Helgen playing the banjo for a long time. The other Max cameo is much easier to find. Also, Bill’s still choking, because I’m an evil pirate.
Monkey Island has its fair share of creepy characters, but none NEARLY so creepy as…*shudder*…Mr. Fossey. From the voice, to the appearance, to the delusions, everything about this guy is unsettling.
One thing “Curse” has that no other Monkey Island game…nay, no other thing in the universe has, is the sound of Gary Coleman giggling at the sight of a skinny dude covered in feathers.
I love jokes about bad Shakespeare performances, and for me, Slappy Cromwell’s performance of “Speare” is almost on par with Hot Fuzz’s “Romeo and Juliet” scene.
There’s the slightly-less-secret-but-still-Samless Max cameo.
At this point, I had a crew, a ship, and a solid gold fiance. Now I just needed to peel some dead skin off a sunbather with a map tattoo. More squeaky-clean family fun!
1:18 PM. “A pirate I was MEANT TO BE! TRIM THE SAILS and ROAM THE SEA!”
This sequence speaks for itself, of course.
1:25 PM. “I would have avoided the volcano had I built Pompeii.”
I’ll admit that I do prefer the insult swordfighting sequence in “Curse” to the one in “Secret”. It has cooler music, and the “incorrect” responses are funnier. However, it’s the exact same tedious hunt to learn dialogue options, and having it return was just redundant. It’s even MORE tedious if you actually go back to upgrade your cannons each time (a step I tend to skip until the very end).
But then again, it has this guy:
He looks like Bill Hader doing an impression of Niles Crane.
Blood Island is home to some of the most gorgeous backgrounds I’ve ever seen in a game. I love the atmosphere, even if the island itself is quite small.
One of the early courses in Adventure Game Designing School must be on Writing Funny Epitaphs For Graveyard Scenes. Between the Monkey Island and King’s Quest series, there’s no shortage of dead people whose families apparently chose to remember them with jokes or limericks.
2:11 PM. “You FOOL! You’ve given cheese to a lactose intolerant volcano god!”
Outside of insult swordfighting, this is the line I quote most in the entire series.
Oh, Stan. The first time I played this game I could not stop laughing when you popped out of the coffin. Unfortunately, your voice is too slow, and it seems out of character for you to recognize Guybrush. Other than that, though, it’s good to see you.
2:43 PM. “He’s had a sudden and unexpected relapse of death!”
I swear, if Guybrush dies any more frequently, people will start thinking he’s a Sierra game character!
2:51 PM. “So you’re saying you only love me for my legs.”
I know you feel used, Guybrush, but come on, it’s kinda sweet the way Murray hopes you’re dead so you can spread terror together.
3:09 PM. “Well, sure, mist is pretty, but egad, is it dull!”
Oh, snap! Take THAT, Brøderbund!
3:23 PM. “That diamond belongs in a museum!” “So do post-impressionist paintings, Mr. Threepwood!”
Since Dave Fennoy uses the exact same voice for King Andre as he does for the Pawn Shop Guy in “King’s Quest VI”, I choose to believe the characters are brothers. It’d shed an interesting light on where Pawn Shop Guy got some of his stock.
I combined the ring with the diamond, and was ready to save Elaine and move on to the disappointingly uninteresting LeChuck portion of the story.
I said earlier that I always make Guybrush say the most innocent dialogue option, but there is one exception: when hearing the Goodsoup story, I simply can’t resist choosing “All right, LeCHUCK! Was she hot? Did you kiss her?”
Returning to the Carnival of the Damned was a goofy idea. Indeed, having there be a physical carnival, and not just an illusion LeChuck placed in Guybrush’s mind, was a goofy idea. That said, it did have potential. Had it been fleshed out a little, there could have been some fun stuff. Sadly, it’s just one room and one of the less-amusing hastily-replaced-ingredients puzzles, followed by the anticlimactic finale set in one of the least-imaginative Disneyland Pirates tributes in the series.
Did Guybrush ever REALLY think that burying LeChuck under an ice diorama would be enough to stop him for good? Really?
The ending of “Curse” feels so incredibly rushed. Probably the least menacing LeChuck-chasing-Guybrush-arround sequence, and no dialogue in the end cut scene (except the pointless post-credits tag). I know the budget for “Curse” ran out before the game was all finished, but it doesn’t change the fact that at this point in the series, the only remotely satisfying conclusion to a game is in the first one, and even that has such a brief final puzzle that the only thing making it satisfying is the dialogue afterwards.
But there’s plenty more disappointment ahead! Tomorrow, we look at…*sigh*…”Escape from Monkey Island”.