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Review by: Jordan Thomas
Published: January 16, 1998
Have you ever wanted to be a pirate? Have you ever felt an overwhelming desire to strap on a superfluous eye patch, take up a cutlass, and take to the seas for a life of pillaging, looting, and an entertaining guttural dialect? I thought so. Don’t try to deny it.
Guybrush Threepwood, the hapless protagonist of the Monkey Island series, shares your guilty dreams of swashbuckling freedom. Fans of the original games, you are now formally permitted to surrender to a huge, satisfied grin. The Curse of Monkey Island brings all the hilarity of the prior titles back with a vengeance. I honestly cannot recall laughing so hard at a game since the earlier Leisure Suit Larry and Space Quest sagas. In the days of old, when graphics were pitiful, pixelly pics, and designers were forced to put their effort into writing, this wonderful trilogy was born. The latest installment, while quite aesthetic in its own silly way, brings back all the ambiance of those Fun on Floppy Disk days.
The entire title is animated in traditional cel-structure style, and this cartoony face is what allows for all the uproarious slapstick used throughout the game to complement the intensely witty screenwriting. Like most adventure games, Curse boasts a very simple click-based interface, which makes the player extremely comfortable for the long, entertaining journey ahead. Occasionally, non-human objects in one of the frequent cutscenes appear three-dimensional. These renderings really enhance the feel, and the integration is 100 percent seamless. The team at LucasArts have outdone themselves again, and thank goodness! Quality adventure games are scarce, and this one is far more than worth the money; it simultaneously makes the player often hysterical with laughter, and thoroughly enriched by a challenging quest to fulfill.
We find Guybrush floating on a small, humble raft, deep in the middle of the ocean. Oblivious to his surroundings, he writes about his lost love, Elaine. In typical Threepwood dumb luck, he drifts directly into the crossfire of a pitched cannon-battle between his arch nemesis Captain LeChuck (who, by the way is at his best throughout the game) and none other than his own dear Elaine, a swashbuckler extraordinaire. She makes a valiant attempt to talk LeChuck out of his disturbing affections for her, given that he’s…well, dead. And, while trying to be kind in her lovely British way, she continues to fend him off by returning cannon-fire.
The actual gameplay begins as Guybrush is hauled aboard the Ship of the Dead, and thrown into the hold by LeChuck’s bony henchmen. He is to be executed as soon as the ship duel concludes. Through somewhat cruel (but undeniably funny) dialogue tactics, he makes his way into the belly of the ship. Without revealing too much of the plot, let us just be aware that he escapes the ship, and is briefly re-united with Elaine, who grudgingly admits her feelings for him. Turning on the charm, Guybrush hands Elaine a special present which he liberates from LeChuck’s treasure storage. And, with typical Threepwood misfortune, she is cursed and turned to solid gold. Hence, the quest! Your adventures begin on El Puerto de Pollo, an island of pirates, plunder, and…poultry.
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