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break to smithereens

The Curse of Monkey Island

The Curse of Monkey Island is an adventure game developed and published by LucasArts, and the third game in the Monkey Island series. It was released in and followed the successful games The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. The game is the twelfth and last LucasArts game to use the SCUMM engine, which was extensively upgraded for its last outing before being replaced by the GrimE engine for the next game in the series, Escape from Monkey Island. The Curse of Monkey Island is the first Monkey Island game to include voice acting, and has a more cartoon-ish graphic style than the earlier games.

The game's story centers around Guybrush Threepwood, a wannabe pirate who must lift a curse from his love Elaine Marley. As the story progresses, he must deal with a band of mysterious pirates and a French buccaneer, as well as his old archnemesis LeChuck.

Gameplay

The Curse of Monkey Island is a point-and-click adventure game. The SCUMM engine was also used in this Monkey Island installment but it was upgraded to a "verb coin", allowing a clearer interface. The inventory and actions were thus visible on click, rather than on the bottom of the screen.

Plot

After the vague and surreal ending of Monkey Island 2, Guybrush Threepwood is inexplicably found on the sea in a floating bumper car with two helium balloons. Guybrush is trying to recall in his journal how he ended up in this dire situation and his escape from the Big Whoop where he was trapped for an undisclosed period of time. He eventually approaches Plunder Island, which is governed by Elaine Marley and is currently under siege by LeChuck himself. After a lengthy exchange where LeChuck is rebuffed in his attempts to woo Elaine, both notice Guybrush, and he is quickly recaptured by LeChuck. While seeking a way out, Guybrush causes LeChuck to blast himself to smithereens, finds a diamond ring in LeChuck's treasure hold, and escapes the ship whilst sinking it. He then reunites with his love, Elaine Marley, and officially proposes to her, offering her the diamond ring he found on LeChuck's ship. Unbeknownst to him is the fact that the ring is cursed, and Elaine gets turned into a gold statue as soon as she puts it on. Guybrush must then retrieve the statue which is stolen almost immediately and return her to human form.

The Voodoo Lady tells Guybrush that he must travel to Blood Island to find a certain uncursed diamond ring to break the spell. In doing so, he must get a crew, a ship, the statue of Elaine, and a map as nobody knows where Blood Island is anymore. In his attempts to get a crew, Guybrush hastily informs a captain named René Rottingham about the gold statue of Elaine, which piques his curiosity. The map also presents a problem as the only known map is tattooed to the back of Palido Domingo, who is tanning on an exclusive beach and does not cooperate in his quest. Guybrush must also find out where the statue of Elaine is hidden. After various competitions, Guybrush manages to do all of the errands, as well as gather a crew, consisting of Cutthroat Bill, Haggis McMutton, and Edward Van Helgen, to join him on a voyage to Blood Island.

While sailing to Blood Island, the crew is distracted by sightseeing whilst Captain Rottingham boards the ship and fights Guybrush in a game of insult swordfighting. Rottingham easily wins and takes the map to Blood Island. By fighting other pirates, Guybrush learns various insults and defeats Rottingham, reclaiming the map. However, a terrible storm results in Guybrush's ship crashing into Blood Island, the golden statue of Elaine being launched inland, and the crew deciding to mutiny; leaving Guybrush on his own again. On Blood Island, Guybrush meets Griswold Goodsoup and other locals, including the cannibals from Monkey Island. Guybrush then removes the cursed ring from Elaine's finger, gambles with smugglers to acquire an uncursed diamond, and returns Elaine to normal. The two share a moment together before LeChuck's skeletal army seizes them.

After a lengthy conversation with LeChuck, Guybrush is transformed into a child and left to roam the Big Whoop amusement park. Using a hangover cure discovered on Blood Island, he becomes an adult again and gets on the Rollercoaster of Death to confront LeChuck. In an unseen cinematic, Elaine reroutes the tracks, causing Guybrush to go through the same sections of the ride over and over, avoiding the lava. LeChuck chases Guybrush over and over, tormenting him with his fiery powers. Regardless, Guybrush manages to gather up various items to set off an avalanche, burying LeChuck under a mountain of ice. Some time later, Guybrush and Elaine are seen sailing off on a ship just married, as various friends he met on his adventures wave them goodbye.

Development

The original Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert parted ways with the series after Monkey Island 2 (published in 1991), and the new project leaders were Jonathan Ackley and Larry Ahern, both of whom had previously worked on Full Throttle (the interface of the game was adopted almost entirely).

During production, examples of major changes include enhancing the role of Murray, the talking skull. Originally intended only to be featured in the first chapter, he proved so popular with test players that he was written to re-appear at several points later in the game. The ending was somewhat cut short, and a storyboard has been circulating the Internet which explains the chain of events between the two final chapters; a scene which did not make it to the finished product due to time constraints.

The game was later re-released on a CD-ROM compilation of Monkey Island games, bundled with The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. It leaves a gap in the series for Mac users since it was never released for that platform (the free software ScummVM interpreter supports The Curse of Monkey Island on the Macintosh, provided that the interested Mac user has the PC software).

After the game shipped, a Monkey Island film was in the works. This was only brought to light when Tony Stacchi, a concept artist for the project, sent his work to The Scumm Bar, a Monkey Island fansite. The film was cancelled in the early stages of development but Tony Stacchi published the artwork on his portfolio. Note that despite the name, this movie was not to be based on The Curse of Monkey Island, but rather on original material that was inspired by the entire Monkey Island series.

Audio

Michael Land, who provided the music for the first two games, once more composed the musical score for the soundtrack. The Curse of Monkey Island was the first game in the series to feature voice acting. The primary voice cast consisted of Dominic Armato as Guybrush Threepwood, Alexandra Boyd as Elaine Marley and Son Pirate, Earl Boen as LeChuck, Denny Delk as Murray, Neil Ross as Wally B. Feed, Alan Young as Haggis McMutton, Michael Sorich as Edward Van Helgen, Gregg Berger as Cutthroat Bill, and Leilani Jones Wilmore as the Voodoo Lady. Other voice actors included Kay E. Kuter as Griswold Goodsoup, Tom Kane as Captain René Rottingham, Patrick Pinney as Stan, and Victor Raider-Wexler as Slappy Cromwell.

Reception

The Curse of Monkey Island received nearly uniform positive reviews by the media. GameSpot praised the graphical style for making the game "as much fun to watch as it is to play". Just Adventure emphasized that the "music is the best I've ever heard in a game; [...] it never stops and it's never annoying; it's always a joy". RPGFan commented that the "additions of detailed graphics and actual spoken dialogue managed to take the already hilarious story to a whole new level". Adventure Classic Gaming addressed plot criticism, saying "some [...] may criticize the numerous farfetched plot twists in this game", while "some may just call it creative writing!", and Adrenaline Vault likened The Curse of Monkey Island to the adventure genre as a whole, saying: "The twin vitals of an adventure game are a good plot coupled with strong dialogue. This game has both, in spades."

Though Adventure Gamers cited the graphic style's "refusal to take itself seriously" was adding "immensely to the game's charm", they found the secondary characters "criminally underdeveloped" and the ending "an anticlimax, leaving the player thinking he could have done so much more, if only the game’s programmers had let him". The abrupt ending of the game received criticism from GameSpot and Just Adventure. PC Zone described that due to the introduction of cartoon-ish graphics "for Monkey devotees of the first two titles something tiny and almost intangible has been lost", while still scoring the game a 92/100, praising the voice over work and humor of the game.

References

External links

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