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Game: The Curse Of Monkey Island
Developer: Lucasarts
Publisher: Lucasarts
Year: 1997
Reviewed: 2007
Platform: PC
Genre: Adventure
Reviewer: ValkyrDeath

The Monkey Island series of games has always been one of the finest in the adventure genre. Guybrush Threepwood’s third adventure, The Curse Of Monkey Island, is its crowning achievement. All the elements that made the earlier games classics are present, but in improved forms, and with several notable features added.

Curse of Monkey Island Murray!
"You may call me 'Murray'! I am a powerful demonic force! I am the harbinger of your doom! And the forces of darkness will applaud me as I stride through the Gates of Hell - carrying your head on a pike!"
"'Stride'?"
"All right then, roll! Roll through the Gates of Hell! Must you take the fun out of everything?"

Once again, the evil zombie pirate LeChuck is trying to kidnap Elaine Marley, and Guybrush turns up to save the day again. But that’s just the opening scene of the game. Unfortunately, the ring that Guybrush finds on the ship and gives to Elaine is cursed, turning her into solid gold. And on top of that, LeChuck still refuses to stay dead, this time returning as a demonic pirate with a fiery beard.

The graphics deserve an extra special mention. The game is 10 years old at the time of writing, and thanks to the wonder of cartoon style graphics, they haven’t dated at all. The resolution might be lower than modern standards, but the quality of the graphics is perfect, and couldn’t be improved on. It’s one game that will keep looking good no matter what advances are made in graphics. The animation is also well done, being of almost film quality. On top of this, and new to the series, is the voice acting, which is some of the best to ever feature in a game. The voices of the characters all fit well, with perfect timing that actually enhances the already hilarious humour of the previous games. Most importantly, Guybrush Threepwood was perfectly cast. The rest of the sound is equally well handled, with fitting music throughout the whole game (including the return of the classic Monkey Island theme) and including a few very funny song sections and a banjo duel.

One of the main aspects of an adventure game is the puzzles, and COMI doesn’t disappoint in this area either. The puzzles are mostly inventory-based and well designed. They all fit well into the game’s cartoon logic. Most importantly, they all fit into the course of the game, without seeming to be forced in separate from the plot like in many adventure games. Every challenge has a reason for being there. The solutions to the puzzles are often very funny too. In an unusual feature for an adventure game, there are two difficulty modes to choose from at the start, the normal version, and Mega-Monkey, the latter having extra puzzles. The only other game of this type that I can think of with this feature is the previous Monkey Island. It’s nice to have the choice, and beginners might want to choose the normal version, but I’d recommend playing in Mega-Monkey mode. You’ll miss out on some of the jokes and a lot of fun puzzles if you don’t. The difficulty is at a good level, not too easy, but never frustratingly hard.

Curse of Monkey Island Insult Sword Fighting Returns
“Every enemy I have met, I've annihilated!”
”With your breath, I'm sure they all suffocated.”

I’ve previously mentioned the puzzle solution being funny, so I guess it’s about time I talked about the humour properly. The game is hilarious. The earlier Monkey Island games were brilliantly funny, but COMI marks the pinacle of the comedy as well as the other aspects of the game. The perfectly written and acted dialogue is probably the highlight, but the cartoon animations and the locations the game takes place in all add to the humour. And most of all, there’s Murray. A talking skull (thanks to Guybrush blasting his body to pieces with a cannon at the start of the game), he turns up again and again throughout the story, constantly talking about how evil he is and how he’s going to take over the world. He’s one of the best comic characters in any game.

There are a couple of mini-games involved during the course of the adventure. One of these is a simple, fun ship combat game. Before any adventure game purists start foaming at the mouth in fury at the destruction of their favourite genre by including something that isn’t purely a puzzle, this can be skipped if you’re too boring to play it, or if you’re just not very good at it. A good feature which should have been included in all adventure games with action sequences. Straight after each of these ship combat sections is the triumphant return of Insult Sword Fighting from the original game. This involves using the best insults you can against the other fighter, or getting the appropriate response to the insults they use on you, in order to win the swordfight. It was one of the highlights of the first game, and it’s one of the highlights here too. And this time, all the responses have to rhyme. It’s a welcome return of something which was sadly missing in the second game.

So, what about the bad points? Well…ummm….err….. the ending is a bit short. It would have been nice to have a big climactic cutscene at the end of the game, so the short climax that is included is a bit disappointing. But that’s a minor complaint, and it’s the only one I can think of for the entire game.

Lucasarts made some of the greatest adventure games ever, and the Monkey Island series were the best of those. Curse of Monkey Island is the greatest Monkey Island game, which must make this…umm… one of the best, if not the very best adventure games ever made. It’s certainly the best comedy adventure around.

Save System Review: Standard adventure game save system, save anywhere, any time you like. No problems.

Arbitrary Final Score: 5 stars

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