The Secret of Monkey Island

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The Secret of Monkey Island

BoxartMI1front.jpg

The Secret of Monkey Island box art
Developer(s) LucasArts
Designer(s) Ron Gilbert
Programmer(s) Ron Gilbert
Dave Grossman
Tim Schafer
Engine SCUMM
Release date(s) October 1990
Platform(s) PC (16 and 256 colors versions), Amiga, Atari ST, Macintosh, Sega Mega CD, FM Towns, Xbox 360 (Special Edition)
Media Floppy and CD-ROM
System requirements According to Monkey Island Bounty Pack
  • MS-DOS 5.0 or higher
  • 386/33 DX (486 recommended)
  • 1 Mb EMS required (2 Mb EMS recommended)
  • Mouse
  • 256 color VGA/MCGA
  • SoundBlaster and 100% compatibles, Adlib, Roland MT 32
Input Mouse and Keyboard
Preceded by none
Followed by Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
This article is about the first game in the series. For the secret itself see The Secret.

The Secret of Monkey Island (abbreviated as SMI) is the first game in the Monkey Island series of adventure games. It was a collaborative work between Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman. It was released originally in October 1990 on Floppy Disk but has consequently seen releases on several platforms with an upgraded CD-ROM version as well.

The game introduces the protagonist Guybrush Threepwood and many other recurring characters and covers the first chapter in the Monkey Island series, including Guybrush's first fateful journey to the titular island. The game is divided in to four sequential Parts:

  • Part 1: The Three Trials - Guybrush must complete the three trials to officially become a pirate.
  • Part 2: The Journey - Guybrush must risk the journey to Monkey Island.
  • Part 3: Under Monkey Island - On Monkey Island Guybrush must find LeChuck's ship, deep beneath the island.
  • Part 4: Guybrush Kicks Butt - Guybrush returns to Mêlée Island for the final showdown with LeChuck.

The soundtrack was composed by series-regular Michael Land in MIDI format. It included many of the recognizable tunes heard later in the series such as the popular Theme Song, Guybrush and Elaine's Love Song and LeChuck's theme.

Excerpt from memoirs

Excerpted from The Memoirs of Guybrush Threepwood: The Monkey Island Years:

"I cursed my luck again as I slid down the monkey's throat. Have my dreams of guzzling grog and plundering galleons been reduced to this? "Three small trials and you're a pirate like us." Fair enough. If only I could stomach the foul brew these scurvy seadogs swilled, the rest would be easy. How could I have known I'd meet a powerful and beautiful woman with a jealous suitor too stupid to realize he'd been dead for years? And how can I crawl through this great stone monkey to find a man who walks three inches above the ground and sets fire to his beard every morning?"

Plot

Part 1: The Three Trials

Guybrush Threepwood is a young man who wishes to become a pirate. He makes his way to Mêlée Island and the Scumm Bar, where he meets the Pirate Leaders. They agree to let him become a pirate, as numbers are low because of the Ghost Pirate LeChuck. LeChuck had fallen madly in love with the Governor of Mêlée Island, Elaine Marley, and had sailed to Monkey Island to impress her. But his ship sank, and he was reincarnated as a ghost. Now he sails the seas, a fearsome ghostly presence.

The Pirate Leaders set Guybrush three tasks to complete before he can become a pirate. He must become skilled in the arts of swordfighting, treasure hunting, and thievery. To complete the first task Guybrush is trained by Captain Smirk, who teaches him the art of Insult Swordfighting. Growing quickly skilled, Guybrush challenges the strongest fighter on the island, Carla the Swordmaster, and defeats her. To complete the second task, Guybrush purchases a map from the Citizen of Mêlée and digs up the Legendary Lost Treasure of Mêlée Island. And to complete the third, he sneaks into the Governor's Mansion and steals the Idol of Many Hands. There he meets Elaine, and instantly falls in love with her. She is willing to let him go, but Sheriff Fester Shinetop has been following Guybrush, and places him under arrest. After revealing to Guybrush that he has a sinister plan for Elaine, Fester ties him down and throws him into the sea.

Guybrush escapes, and when he climbs ashore he sees Elaine, who has come to rescue him. It turns out Elaine has fallen in love with Guybrush. She tells him to come visit her at the mansion when he has completed the three trials. (This story is skipped when Guybrush has finished the Trial of Thievery last.)

However, before they can meet again, LeChuck's ghost ship visits the island and he kidnaps Elaine. All the other pirates immediately begin looting the Governor's Mansion, so it is up to Guybrush to rescue her. He recruits three people to serve as his crew: Carla, a double-hook-handed pirate named Meathook, and jailbird Otis. He purchases a ship from Stan's Previously Owned Vessels, the Sea Monkey, which legend has it has once before sailed to Monkey Island.

Part 2: The journey

Once they are out on the high seas, Guybrush's crew immediately set out deckchairs and announce their disinclination to do any work. Unable to convince them to crew the ship, Guybrush looks through the ship for any clues relating to the location of Monkey Island. He finds a captain's log, written by an unseen former captain, and a recipe entitled "Directions to Monkey Island". He follows the directions, concocting what turns out to be a powerful voodoo spell, and a cloud of powerful fumes knocks him and his crew unconscious. As they sleep the spell guides the ship. When they awake several days later, they are off the coast of Monkey Island.

Part 3: Under Monkey Island

Part Three Under Monkey Island SMISE.jpg

Guybrush's crew are still unwilling to move from their deckchairs, so Guybrush enters Monkey Island alone. There he meets Herman Toothrot, an insane hermit, and learns that LeChuck's ghost ship is in a secret underground cavern underneath a Giant Monkey Head. Later he meets a village full of cannibals, whom he initially angers and later makes peace with. They offer to make a ghost-zapping potion for him using a magical root which LeChuck stole, if he can bring it back. Using a magical Navigator's Head, Guybrush enters the Giant Monkey Head, navigates the underground caverns, and boards LeChuck's ghost ship wearing a necklace that makes him invisible to ghosts. He finds the brig where Elaine is being held captive, but the heavy ghost guard around her makes her impossible to rescue. Instead he retrieves the root and returns to the cannibals, who make the ghost zapping potion, which turns out to be very similar to root beer. Guybrush returns to the underground cavern, but LeChuck's ship has already left. From the single ghost left behind, he learns that LeChuck has taken Elaine to Mêlée Island so they can be married. Herman Toothrot shows up, and offers to take him back to Mêlée Island on his ship.[1]

Part 4: Guybrush Kicks Butt

Guybrush rushes to the church, using the ghost-zapping potion on any ghost in his way. When he reaches the church he tries to stop the wedding, but even as LeChuck challenges him Elaine abseils down from the ceiling and reveals she escaped from LeChuck's ship long ago. The figure in the wedding dress turns out to be two monkeys with a root beer bottle. They scamper off, with Elaine in hot pursuit. Guybrush tries to use his ghost-zapping potion, but it jams on him. LeChuck begins to punch him all over Mêlée Island. Finally LeChuck punches him into the Grog Machine at Stan's Previously-Owned Vessels. A bottle of root beer spills out of the machine and Guybrush manages to zap LeChuck with it. Elaine shows up and they watch LeChuck's body bursting into fireworks all over the night sky.

Characters

Main Characters

Supporting Characters

Ancillary Characters

Featured islands

Version differences

The initial versions of the game used 16 colours, but after the release of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge all versions were made with an upgraded 256 colour-palette. Additionally, the original versions of the game had a text-based verb-system and inventory, but in later versions the graphic-interface of the second game was used, with inventory icons. The superfluous commands Turn On and Turn Off, seen in earlier games, were also removed. The music is CD audio rather than MT-32 MIDI, featuring some more tracks as well as some extended versions. They are not recorded from an MT-32, though.

The Amiga version had its music done as TFMX renditions.

The PC floppy version features a stump joke requesting a fictitious disk 22 among others. The help line got many calls from confused customers due to this, so LucasArts decided to remove that joke in later versions. It is not present in non PC versions either.

More extensive changes were made to the game's sound, appearance and interface for the Special Edition.

Sega CD

The Sega CD version makes this the first Monkey Island game to have a console-release. The graphics derive from the VGA version, but the colors are reduced to 64; the sound is the one from the CD version.

This version does not have save-games, but instead uses a checkpoint system as well as passwords. As a consequence, inventory items and dialogue-triggered options can not be saved; each 'restored' position provides only fixed items, which are the fewest necessary. The game has noticeably long loading times due to Sega-CD having a single-speed CD drive.

Some minor differences include:

  • Several graphic-elements are missing such as the drunk pirate who rotates on the ceiling of the Scumm Bar and the seaweed at the sea bottom.
  • When Guybrush is shot out of the cannon by the The Fantastic Flying Fettucini Brothers Circus, the dialogue choices are in reverse, rather than upside-down (this is due to the special-font developed for the PC version).
  • The "Stump Joke" is absent, as in the CD version.
  • The death scene with Guybrush drowning is prevented; after the 10 minutes pass, Guybrush will automatically pick up the Idol of Many Hands (along with the sword if he's had one before) and leave the sea bottom.
  • Although the falling on the "Rubber tree" in-joke exists, the faux death window showing the options 'Restore - Restart - Quit' does not appear.
  • When Guybrush recovers the Voodoo antiroot, a short cue resembling "Hallelujah" from Handel's Messiah can be heard, instead of the Indiana Jones cue.
  • If Guybrush chooses to dissolve Bob, he will just disappear in a poof, instead of shrinking.
  • The title screen of the Part Four has the usual musical cue, instead of the drum fill.
  • The ending doesn't show what happens to Stan or to Herman Toothrot/crew.

Endings

There are two variants of the ending and while for the most part the endings are identical there is one aspect that the player can affect. If the player sinks the Sea Monkey while on Monkey Island, Meathook, Carla and Otis are left on Monkey Island and shown to be captured by the Cannibals at the end of the game. If the player didn't sink the ship Herman will be shown standing on a beach wondering if Guybrush remembered to promise to save him.

According to Escape from Monkey Island Guybrush did leave his crew on Monkey Island, as revealed by dialogue with the crew members. In this game Guybrush and Herman also talk about his ship (the one used to return to Mêlée if the Sea Monkey was sunk), though by this point Herman has sunk it himself.

In the Special Edition, finishing the game with both endings (and thus marooning everybody) earns points as one of the achievements on the Xbox Live Arcade and also one of the PlayStation Network Trophies.

Dying

Although the Monkey Island games differed from some of their contemporary games in being designed to avoid 'unwinnable' situations, The Secret of Monkey Island established a tradition among the games of having one way in which Guybrush could "die". Guybrush can be killed during the sequence where he is underwater but only if the player does nothing for 10 minutes.

If the player walks to the far-right edge at the highest mountaintop on the island, the ledge will break and Guybrush will fall off. A message box appears that says "Oh, no! You've really screwed up this time! Guess you'll have to start over! Hope you saved the game!" with options to 'Restore', 'Restart' or 'Quit'. But Guybrush suddenly flies back up onto the cliff, exclaiming "Rubber tree!"[2]

There is at least one possible way to trigger an 'unwinnable' situation, if the player wastes all of his pieces of eight in Stan's grog machine or giving them to Otis. However this requires some effort by the player (the action needs to be repeated around 400 times) and must happen before buying the items from The Storekeeper (the only objects which must be bought in the whole game).

Special Edition

Main article: The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

On June 1st 2009 it was announced that The Secret of Monkey Island was being remade for PC, the PlayStation Network, and the Xbox Live Arcade. The remake, released in summer 2009, includes updated graphics and full voice-over.[3].

See also

Reviews

Footnotes

  1. If Guybrush has not sunk his own ship with a rock from the rock-launching device atop the mountain in the centre of the island, his own crew will show up instead, but in a later game it appears that the other ending is canonical. See Endings.
  2. Youtube video "Monkey Island: Cliff"
  3. http://www.lucasarts.com/games/monkeyisland/

External links