Guybrush Threepwood, a young man with desires to become a mighty pirate, travels to Melee Island, a pirate haven. Upon arrival he meets three ” important looking pirates” in the SCUMM Bar who set him three challenges to test his worthiness. These entail defeating the legendary insult sword fighting master Carla, finding buried treasure and stealing a statue from the governors mansion. During a botched break-in to the mansion he meets and subsequently falls in love with the governor Elaine Marley. Elsewhere the ghost pirate LeChuck is seen pining after the love of his life, the same Elaine Marley, and hatches a plan to capture her. While Guybrush is busy finishing the trials LeChuck and his ghost pirate crew abduct her and take her to Monkey Island. Upon completing the trials Guybrush discovers this revelation, purchases a ship from Stan, a used ship salesman who informs him the ship requires a crew of four people. After gathering Carla, the sword fighting Master he had previously defeated, Meathook, a pirate with two hooks replacing his hands, and Otis a prisoner in Melee Island’s Prison Guybrush and crew set sail in pursuit to rescue her.
Upon setting sail Guybrush’s crew mutinied against him, and decided to sunbathe instead. After following the instructions on his map to get to Monkey Island, he shoots himself onto the island.;
Arriving at Monkey Island he discovers a strange band of cannibals and a hermit named Herman Toothrot. After helping the cannibals recover a lost voodoo ingredient they provide him with a recipe to destroy ghosts. When attempting to confront LeChuck however he finds only a single crewman who informs him of LeChuck’s intention to marry Elaine on Melee Island. He sets sail once more.
Returning to Melee Island he arrives at the church with intent to prevent the marriage but finds Elaine had her own plan of escape. LeChuck attacks Guybrush and after lengthy exchange the two arrive at the ship emporium whereupon Guybrush sprays LeChuck with root beer, the cannibals ghost fighting elixir being made from voodoo root. With LeChuck demise Guybrush and Elaine share a romantic moment, watching fireworks.
Developed by Ron Gilbert, Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer, The Secret of Monkey Island began production shortly after Gilbert finished work on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The pirate premise of the game was inspired by Gilbert’s love of The Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disneyland. His desire was to create a lush and fanciful world fill with swashbuckling pirates much like those seen in classic film and literature.
The team’s desire was to create a more accessible adventure game that anyone at any skill level could enjoy. Until then the genre had been known for being filled with difficult and often esoteric puzzles and full of trial and error gameplay. Gilbert and company hoped to avoid this by offering non linear puzzle sections such as The Three Trials where the player is free to work on a second puzzle if another becomes too difficult. The series also set the precedent in Lucasarts adventures of never allowing the player to die.
Just before the game was set to ship, the company responsible for boxing the games and shipping to retailers told Lucasarts that they could not fill the order in time due to need to give their workers time off. This prompted nearly all of the Lucasarts staff to, themselves, box and ship all of the initial copies of The Secret of Monkey Island. Gilbert has said that during this time he, Grossman and Schafer each signed a one dollar bill and slipped it into one of the boxes. It’s unknown if anyone ever found it.
Insult Sword Fighting
When sword fighting, it’s not enough to have the right technique, you must also be able to parry an opponent’s insults with appropriately witty responses. For example; the correct response to “You fight like a dairy farmer!” would be “How appropriate, you fight like a cow!”. If the fighter responds with the correct come back, he earns the right to dish out the next insult. The first to three insults wins the fight.
The Secret of Monkey Island is filled with references to Loom, another Lucasarts game released around the same time. Early in the game Guybrush encounters Cobb, a character from Loom who wears an “Ask me about Loom” button, who’s only response to Guybush’s attempts at conversation are “Aye”. That is, however, until Guybrush asks him about Loom. Cobb then launches into full advertisement on the games excellent story and wonderful soundtrack. Other references to Loom include a seagull from them game and the line “I’m Bobbin, are you my mother?” after Guybrush is fired from a cannon.
The game also takes a shot at fellow developer Sierra. At one point in the game the player can make Guybrush fall off a mountain resulting in a game over screen similar to those found in Sierra’s adventure games that says “Oh, no! You’ve really screwed up this time! Guess you’ll have to start over! Hope you saved the game!”. After a few moments Guybrush flys back up the mountain and the game continues as normal.
When the ‘ Important Looking Pirates‘ in the Scumm Bar ask Guybrush if he has any special skills, one dialogue option is to tell them that he can hold his breath for 10 minutes. Later, when Fester Shinetop throws you into the water, if you wait 10 minutes you’ll see Guybrush drown, bloat up, and a load is required.
The Special Edition also includes a few references to past Lucas-Arts titles:
- In the cave where Le Chuck‘s vessel is anchored you’ll see the face of Manny Calavera, the protogonist of Grim Fandango, hidden in one of the skull-filled speleothems.
- At the Giant Monkey Head there’s an idol statue of The Purple Tentacle from Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle.
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
On July 15, 2009, an updated “Special Edition” version of The Secret of Monkey Island was released on Xbox Live Arcade, PC, and iPhone/iPod touch (the game was later released on the PlayStation Network on April 22, 2010). This re-imagining has remained completely faithful to the original game, featuring updated 1080i graphics, new music, hand drawn recreations of all the characters, items, & backgrounds, as well as full voice overs using the voice cast from The Curse of Monkey Island.
The game has been given a streamlined interface designed to work better with a console controller. Players also have the ability to switch between the original version of the game and the special edition at any time with one button so that those who prefer the old style can still enjoy the experience. Moreover this version includes a built-in hint system for those who need it, which has three varying levels, but is a completely optional feature to use.
PC System Requirements
- MS-DOS 5.0 or higher
- 1 Mb of EMS required (2 Mb recommended)
- 386/33 DX (486 DX recommended)
- Sounblaster and 100% compatibles, Adlib, Roland MT 32
- Windows XP or Vista
- Processor: Intel Pentium 4 3GHz or AMD Athlon 64 3000
- Memory: 256 MB RAM, 512 MB for Vista
- Graphics: 128 MB with Shader Model 2.0 capability
- DirectX: 9.0c (March 2009)
- Hard Drive: 2.5GB free hard drive space
- Sound: DirectX 9.0c compliant sound card