The Curse of Monkey Island

The Curse of Monkey Island
The Curse of Monkey Island Cover
Platforms Windows, ScummVM
Genre Three-Headed Monkey Adventure
MtAMinutes to Action 8
Score 8  Clock score of 8Gameplay: 10
Fun Factor: 8
Gfx/Sound: 9
Story: 5
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The Curse of Monkey Island is the third Monkey Island game in the series. It was first though to transition from pixelated sprites to really nice looking hand-drawn characters and backgrounds. The game uses cel art and animation, making it quite bright and vibrant, if somewhat cartoony and quite different looking than the previous games. The Curse of Monkey Island was one of Lucasart's last adventure games, something they used to be quite known for, and also the last of their games to use the SCUMM gameplay engine. The first three Monkey Island games are some of the funniest and best written video games ever made, but let's see if the first hour of Curse is actually on par with the rest of the series.

There will be lots of pictures in this review because the art is just so great and I couldn't help but take lots of screenshots!

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I start up the game and am given two choices of difficulty, I go with the easier, as most normal players would. A THX screen appears, but this says CMI! The Monkeys are Listening... A map loading screen appears and then some Caribbean music starts.

Curse Of Monkey Island Lucasarts Logo

01 - A scrawny blonde guy appears in a bumper car, floating in the middle of the ocean. He's writing in a journal, sounds like he's been stranded for a while. He wishes for various things, chicken, grog, water, fruit, and as he does so, the object floats by without him realizing. The voice acting so far is very good.

02 - We start hearing cannon fire and then we suddenly float into the middle of a ship-to-ship battle.

Curse Of Monkey Island Logo

03 - The credits start appearing as more upbeat music plays. It's quite catchy.

05 - The credits end and the cutscene continues. It's pretty good animation. The giant, undead, green pirate seems to be in love with the woman, as they banter back and forth across ships while shooting cannons at each other. The guy floating in the bumper car seems to recognize both.

06 - The two continue bantering and we start learning some names. The scrawny dude is Guybrush. Guybrush Threepwooed. Elaine is the woman and LeChuck is the evil, undead pirate. Elaine professes her love to Guybrush without her realizing he's hanging around down below, but then LeChuck spots me and shoots a cannon right at me. Guybrush is quickly pulled out of the water onto the wrong ship.

07 - Elaine saves me from imminent death but I still get thrown into the hold. LeChuck announces he's soon going to use the flaming voodoo cannon ball! The screen now tells me that Part I is about to begin: The Demise of the Zombie Pirate LeChuck.

Curse Of Monkey Island Elaine Musket Smoke

08 - I'm now in the hold, which is also occupied by a little kid shooting a cannon. I now get control of Guybrush, but this is not your typical adventure. Monkey Island is a point and click sort of adventure, and you move to a specific place by clicking on it and interact with objects by clicking and holding the mouse button down on it and choosing the appropriate move from a popup menu. In Curse of Monkey Island, there are three basic moves: Look, Touch, and Talk. Touch can also mean pick up, press, etc. and talk can also mean eat or even lick! There are many unusual possibilities in these types of games. Anyway, I start talking to my roommate, who doesn't look like much of a pirate.

09 - We introduce ourselves, I'm Guybrush Threepwood (mighty pirate). You pick conversation topics by clicking on a line of dialogue on the bottom of the screen. Almost all of them are quite humorous. I begin by pointing out that this kid's beard is obviously fake!

10 - Guybrush recognizes the kid as Wally (a character from previous games). Turns out he's been taking pirate training lessons from LeChuck (not directly, mostly through audio books on parrot) and now he's becoming evil.

12 - Voice acting is still very good. Wally won't set me free though, and by the way, his new name is Bloodnose. I start insulting him, Wally starts getting angry.

13 - Wally breaks down from my incredible insulting skills and crumples to the floor in tears. I now have full access to the room, including the cannon!

14 - I walk up to the cannon and a minigame begins! I get to shoot the cannon at the skeleton raiding parties. They yell at me because I shouldn't be shooting at them. Too bad undead!

Curse Of Monkey Island Cannon Minigame

15 - I take out all the skeletons and now I'm able to stick my head out the porthole and check out the stuff floating in the water. Hey! There's a skull! A talking skull! A talking skully named Murray! Murray is an invincible demonic skull, so he says. A very funny conversation ensues with much insulting going back and forth. "How can you see without eyeballs?" "How can you walk around without a brain? Some things no one can answer."

17 - I pick up the cannon ramrod and shove it down my pants (that did not sound good). I also steal Wally's hook, he doesn't need it anymore. Too bad I can't take any cannonballs.

18 - I check out my inventory by right clicking, I have some helium balloons for some reason (actually because Guybrush was carrying some at the end of the second game). I inhale one of the balloons and Guybrush now talks in a very high pitch!

19 - I combine the ramrod and hook inside my inventory to create a long arm/claw device. I peek out the porthole again and use my new tool to pick up a skeleton arm holding a sword. Sweet, a weapon! I can't pick up Murray though, too bad. Murray yells at me for stealing his arm.

Curse Of Monkey Island Guybrush Murray

20 - I try to get out the door but it's locked. I can't see through keyhole either. I use the sword on the cannon restraint rope. Now I gotta fire this cannon! Probably not a good combination in real life.

21 - A cutscene to LeChuck holding his big green voodoo cannonball. The cannon fire causes LeChuck to drop the cannonball. KABOOM! Now that was a weapon of mass destruction. The ship capsizes (to Elaine's dismay) and I find myself in LeChuck's treasure room. Tons of stuff to click on in here. And lots of hilarious responses.

Curse Of Monkey Island Elaine Voodoo Cannonball

22 - Looks like there's only two ways out: a porthole and a hole in the ceiling.

23 - I tell Guybrush to take some treasure but he refuses... I guess he's not a greedy guy! All Guybrush will take is a bag of wooden nickels. But there's a ring underneath! Huzzah! I take that too.

24 - With nothing left to do, I use the ring on the porthole and water fires in! Ouch!

Curse Of Monkey Island Water Float

25 - Guybrush washes up on shore and Elaine is standing there waiting for me. Deep in the moment, Guybrush proposes and gives her the diamond ring. Wally walks up and reveals that that's LeChuck's cursed diamond ring, Elaine suddenly turns to gold!

Curse Of Monkey Island Gold Elaine

26 - Part II begins: The Curse gets Worse. I regain control of Guybrush on an unknown island. At least I'm assuming it's an island because there are no large land masses in Monkey Island games.

27 - A well-placed plaque says we're on Plunder Island. I leave the immediate beach area and see an overview of the island. Lots of places to explore. I'll start with the nearby swampy place.

Curse Of Monkey Island Plunder Island

28 - It's a wrecked ship, I head towards it and Murray (the talking demonic skull) yells BOO! Guybrush eeks a little bit and I ask him how he got all the way up on a pole... Murray admits it was a bunch of those weird voodoo kids. He's too proud to let me help him down though. He kind of reminds me of the janitor from Scrubs.

30 - I leave Murray and head inside. Lots of voodooey stuff lining the walls and floor. Some little paper voodoo dolls are on the floor, looks like kids have been here. I spend some nickels on a pack of gum. Guybrush can blow bubbles with it.

Curse Of Monkey Island Voodoo Ship Murray

31 - I pull the stuffed alligator's tongue and out pops a woman, seems like they know each other.

33 - The voodoo priestess (whom has appeared in the other Monkey Island games) has twice helped Guybrush defeat LeChuck. Looks like I'll need more help again as the undead pirate is back and my girlfriend is made of gold.

35 - Guybrush tells the lady about his girl problems and she gets pissed that I left such a valuable gold statue on the beach! The game cuts to the beach - Elaine is gone and there's a ship sailing away. The game cuts back to the voodoo house and the priestess explains that it was probably the thugs parked in Danjer Cove who stole her.

Curse Of Monkey Island Voodoo Priestess

36 - To fix the curse, I'll have to replace the cursed ring with a better, non-cursed one. There's supposed to be a whopping big ring on nearby Blood Island.

37 - Blood Island will be where Guybrush dies. That is all.

38 - To get to Blood Island, I'll need a map, ship, and crew. I got my mission so I head out and then into town. Map. Ship. Crew.

39 - My first encounter in town is with none other than an obnoxious fat kid selling lemonade. This kid is voiced by Gary Coleman - famous child actor gone so low he's doing voices in a computer game playing a white, freckly fat boy-child. He's selling lemonade for five cents and has a bottomless mug policy... get it?

Curse Of Monkey Island Gary Coleman Lemonade

40 - Lots of things to check out in town and lots of witty sayings coming from Guybrush. I enter a restaurant but quickly get kicked out for not having a reservation.

41 - I enter the barbershop with three interesting "buccaneer hair stylists." Guybrush tells them all about the ring and his solid gold statue. Whoops. They are pirates, Guybrush.

42 - I talk with the skinny pirate, he doesn't want to join my crew. Guybrush doesn't have much of a reputation around here. He will join my crew if I beat him in a duel, but I have to insult him first. "How appropriate, you fight like a cow." Yeah, that doesn't work, but that famous Monkey Island insult was written by Orson Scott Card.

Curse Of Monkey Island Guybrush Barbershop

44 - I approach the peg-legged pirate in the corner. He doesn't want to be on my crew either. He'll sign up if I show him some "real treasure." No idea how to solve that one.

45 - Guybrush next talks with the big Scottish looking guy, but the French guy getting the hair cut won't let me talk to him. Boo.

46 - I try stealing his comb... no luck. Looks like the crew part of my mission will have to wait. I leave the barber shop and heads towards the main building in town.

Curse Of Monkey Island Puerto Pollo

47 - The main building in town is the local theater. There are some really ugly pirates in here practicing lines, they don't want to talk much but one of them gives me a hint about the map I'll need. A man at the beach club is familiar with the area and might have a map.

49 - On my way out I take a magic wand, a glove, and some LICE?. Gross, and odd. I leave town, which is named Puerto Pollo.

50 - I arrive at the beach club, just a cabana boy here cooking hot dogs.

Curse Of Monkey Island Guybrush Cabana Boy

51 - He tells me about the nice weather and warns me about the undead corpses that may wash up on shore. He won't let me in though to the beach so I try Obi-Wan Kenobi logic on him. Seems to work for a moment, then he snaps out of it. He's more powerful than I originally imagined!

53 - With no luck on the beach I head back into town. I figure now that I have the white glove, I can challenge the skinny pirate to a duel.

54 - It works and the two of us head out for the grassy area somewhere around town. He asks me to choose a gun. We march off our paces and he easily shoots the gun out my hand.

Curse Of Monkey Island Dueling Banjo Guns

55 - Seeing something suspicious, I challenge him again. This time, I close the pistol case, and choose the banjo case in back!

56 - Seems like the pirate was prepared, and a banjo battle begins! It's a rousing battle of the hands, and I have to repeat his final note of a sequence, which is pretty easy. After the second round though, he starts wailing on his banjo likes it's an electric guitar and he's Eddie van Halen.

Curse Of Monkey Island Guybrush Dueling Banjo

57 - While he's rocking out, I get control of Guybrush and decide that drastic times call for drastic measures. I grab a gun from the gun case and shoot his banjo! He loves my aggressiveness and decides to join my crew! I need two more crew members, but I've taken the first step towards saving Elaine!

58 - Back in the barbershop, I put the lice I found in the theater onto the comb next to Captain Rottingham, the French guy getting his hair cut. Everyone freaks out and the giant Scot chops off the hair of the Frenchman! Rottingham runs out allowing me to speak with the burly red head.

Curse Of Monkey Island Lice Comb

60 - To get him to join my crew, I need to beat him in a time honored tradition. His style of time honored traditions is the caber toss! The Scotman tosses his log pretty far, but Guybrush tosses his log... well, nowhere. This failure marks my hour being up!
Time for ratings out of 10.

Curse Of Monkey Island Caber Toss Haggis

First Hour Scores

Minutes to Action: 8

Gameplay: 10
This is the best playing adventure game I've ever played (and I've played a lot of them). There's no verb+noun combination guessing like some of the older games, and all movement is controlled with the mouse unlike some of the newer games. Choosing actions is very easy, a must for adventure games. There's also some fun little minigames mixed in giving the game some variety.

Fun Factor: 8
I might have moved through the first hour a little fast as I've played this game before (many times) and I know all the moves. I tried to go at a slower speed but a first time player might find themselves still in the first area after the first hour is complete. That would definitely affect the fun factor of this game but I feel that from everything I played, the game is very fun. And funny, especially due to the great voice acting.

Graphics and Sound: 9
The game is one of the best looking adventure games ever and definitely the best looking Monkey Island game (Escape from Monkey Island was a travesty of polygons and bad art direction). The game has a great cartoony look that works really well for the style of gameplay. The best part though is the voice acting. The first two Monkey Island games were text only, so making the jump to both big, cartoon sprites AND 100% voice acting was a huge step, and it was totally in the right direction. Guybrush Threepwood's voice, Dominic Armato, was the absolute perfect cast for the bumbling but lovable wannabe pirate. He has to carry the game and it works for at least the first hour.

Story: 5
The Curse of Monkey Island assume a lot. It assumes you're at least familiar with the other games in the series: The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. It also assumes that you know who the characters are and how they interact with each other as the first scene in the game is between the series' three main characters: Guybrush, Elaine, and LeChuck; all without any introduction. And it also assumes you appreciate good, well written humor littered with insults, double entendres, and many pirate and pop culture puns. All of these attributes make for a rather small target audience, but the game can still be enjoyed as long as you have a sense of humor.

Overall: 8
Great voice acting, great art, great gameplay, and a decent story to tie it all together. I can't give this game a higher score though because adventure games can be inherently frustrating for some people, though The Curse of Monkey Island starts off pretty softly. The game does start off rather slow and it takes almost 10 minutes for any real action to kick in that you have control over (action is a relative term of course for all these games). This is probably a great starter adventure game as even though it's 10 years old, I would still consider it modern. The puzzles can be difficult, but are definitely fun and interesting. The game also lays out your goals clearly and early on (map, ship, and crew). Lucasarts pulled off an instant classic with The Curse of Monkey Island, it's just too bad they didn't capitalize on their success and continue with it. The first hour of Curse is enjoyable and very funny, I can honestly recommend it to everyone.

Curse Of Monkey Island Guybrush Diamond Ring