Monday, May 6, 2013

"Curse of Monkey Island", Windows, 1997.

This is just about it, only one more item in my "classic LucasArts" folder. I have good memories of this one, playing it in just about a single session, totally derailing a 1999 trip to Helsinki. Phil and I just ground through this sitting on Jaako "Tarot" Raami's living room floor while ostensibly in Finland to attend the Assembly demoparty. I know, its detractors will claim that with the departure of the original developers, the magic was gone, the story was diluted, the puzzles were obscure. Embarrassing as it is to admit in retrospect, I had similar issues with every instalment of the MI series (never got a chance to play the 4th in 3D), often having to take weeks off run up against the wall on this puzzle or that, waiting for hints to be shared on BBSes, and at that moment this game never felt as though anything was lacking.
Introducing the only pirate adventure that asks the question: What's sharper, your sword or your wit?

Presenting the long-awaited third installment in LucasArts' classic adventure series, Monkey Island. With features like 30-plus hours of gameplay, 8,000 lines of hilarious dialogue, oodles of challenging puzzles, high-resolution graphics, film-quality animation and a few surprise celebrity voices. Not to mention vegetarian cannibals and a guy named Snugglecakes. So get ready to embark on a rollicking, swashbuckling graphic adventure where the seagulls have better aim than the pirates, and the sharpest weapon is your wit.

Just how witty is a skeleton pirate in a goofy flotation device? I don't know if "wit" is really the word they were looking for.

Long-awaited: 6 years between MI 2 and this one. (Then only 3 between this and the "who cares?" MI 4. Maybe they would have been better off turning it into a FPS, RTS or Myst clone. Then, well, 9 years for the Tales of Monkey Island which actually look a lot like MI4.)

Don't advertise hours of gameplay in an adventure game, or else you end up with this. How many lines of dialogue? Would you ever see a novel or screenplay touted this way? Put it this way: unless your game is Planescape: Torment, nobody cares how many unfunny insults a bizarrely-inserted Gary Coleman throws at you. Graphics and animation were non-starters in '97, either you had them or the conversation wouldn't even have started. Retro big pixels wasn't a "thing" yet. "[A] guy named Snugglecakes" also isn't selling me yet. Like with a movie trailer, you have to ask yourself: and this is really the best they have to show? Then there's a bird poop joke, aaaaand... we're done. No, wait, the LucasArts guy in the bottom right corner is a pirate stickman, with the cursed ring hanging off of the logo! Also, I just noticed: the skeleton pirate isn't floating in the water in his duckie, he's actually reclining on the beach sand. Lazy, lazy skeleton!

Cynics might say that the same loving care went into the ad as went into the game. But as I say, the game held up at the time, and this ad is good enough provided you don't subject it to scrutiny. And really, who pores over these ads, anyway?

The only remaining important question would be: who's this "köelsch" whose autograph turns up between lines 3 and 4 of the left-page slogan? An uncredited concept artist?

And for reading to the end, here's a bonus reward! Because it has some relevance to the matter at hand, I will drop this link here -- for those who enjoyed Monkey Island's insult swordfighting but couldn't abide sitting through the rest of all that adventure game filler between combats.