34: The Curse of Monkey Island

Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: LucasArts
Year: 1997
Platform: Windows

Review: With Ron Gilbert gone, the Monkey Island series veers slightly in tone and design, but manages to maintain an excellent example of adventure gaming. The pixelated backgrounds have been replaced by hand-drawn cartoon graphics, and Guybrush Threepwood’s personality has gone from “fish out of water” to “dumb and clumsy.” He’s also been given a voice to match. And all the changes work because the game matches the changes.

After saving Elaine from death at the hands of once-again revived Captain LeChuck, Guybrush proposes to his love, accidentally giving her a cursed ring, turning her to stone. The plot gives way to the puzzles as Guybrush tackles one after another. But unlike in Monkey Island II: LeChuck’s Revenge, it works here. For one, the plot does pop up more frequently, but more importantly, the puzzles aren’t so freaking obtuse. They’re goofy and irreverent, sure, but for the most part don’t take giant leaps of logic to figure out. That isn’t to say the game is a cakewalk. Several of the puzzles are difficult but certainly fair.

I also found myself laughing quite a bit, especially at Murray, the talking skull. Even though I didn’t prefer the series’ personality shift (including the Hollywood ending), The Curse of Monkey Island remains entertaining throughout. Fans of the series shouldn’t be too disappointed.

Contemporary RatingHigh. Flawlessly designed, never really frustrating.

Cruelty Rating:  Merciful.  It’s a LucasArts game!

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