After the success of The Secret of Monkey Island (1990) and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (1991), is it any wonder that LucasArt would continue with the franchise? However, fans would have to wait another six years before the third instalment appeared…The Curse of Monkey Island!
The Curse of Monkey Island is a point and click adventure game develop and publish by LucasArt. It was released in 1997 for Microsfit Windows. For this review, I played the version downloaded from Steam.
Once again, we follow our hero Guybrush Threepwood. After being stranded at sea for many days in a bumper car, the tides drift him to Plunder Island where he is instantly caught in the middle of LeChuck’s bombardment of Elaine’s fort. It seems LeChuck still wants to marry her and won’t take no for an answer. After foiling LeChuck’s assault, Threepwood finds a diamond ring amongst the pirate treasure. He then formally proposes to Elaine, who accepts. As soon as she puts the ring on, she transforms into a gold statue…the ring is cursed! She is stolen soon after. Threepwood must save Elaine and find a way to lift the curse. Easy right?
The game continues in the point and click format. Your cursor is an ‘X’. When you hover over items, characters, or scenery, that you can interact with, the name of what you can interact with will appear on the screen. The interface is in the style of a gold pirate doubloon. To access it, simply hold the left mouse button over an item and the interface will appear. The hand icon instructs Threepwood to pick up, use, or hit someone; the eyes allow you to examine something; and the parrot head instructs Threepwood to talk to or bite/eat something. To access your inventory, you simply click the right mouse button.
When talking to characters, there are usually several options that appear which usually involves comical quips or questions that help you progress.
A new feature in the series are the sea battles. Using left click to steer and right click to fire, you must learn to manoeuvre your ship into range before firing a volley broadside into the enemy whilst evading their fire.
How Does It Handle?
The user interface and the number of commands has been simplified to make the game more enjoyable (in my opinion). This game is easy to learn and easy to navigate. No complaints here. The ship battles are easy, but fun and a good way to mix up the action. They may not be everyone’s bottle of rum though.
Apart from the usual: examine everything on screen tactic used by point and click fans everywhere, which offers quips from Guybrush, there are two other aspects to the game that add to this gaming experience. The first is by adding a banjo duelling scene where you must compete with another banjo player by plucking the correct strings in order. The second is sword battles where you win by hurling verbal insults at your opponent or countering their insults with even bigger burns. These two aspects of the game are alot of fun!
As one may expect after such a long hiatus, the graphics are vastly improved. Not everyone was happy with the more comical style that the characters took on, but I loved it. The scenes are quirky an colourful with plenty to investigate, and the characters are larger than life. Bravo!
Music and SFX
Once you’ve selected your difficulty setting, you begin to hear a few primates chattering away. Over the next few seconds there is clearly some excitement as the voices become louder and more animated. I loved this intro to the game…but then again, I love chimps too.
During the story introduction, you are met with a beautifully animated introduction to the game with some fab Caribbean-style music played over the top. The in-game music doesn’t grab your attention, but its subtlety really works and is fitting for the game.
This game is the first in the series to have voice acting. It stars Dominic Armato as Guybrush Threepwood, Alexandra Boyd as Elaine Marley, and Earl Boen as Ghost Pirate LeChuck.
You have the option of playing a simpler game with less puzzles for a harder game with more puzzles. This is a neat feature and adds replay value to the game. This game is certainly worth revisiting and I know many of my firends who have played through this more than once.
Did I Complete The Game?
Yes, but I probably used more hints from a walkthrough than I should have. Oh, the impatience of age!
What the Critics Said:
Computer Gaming World: “Outstanding animation, plot, dialogue, and puzzles add up to the most satisfying adventure game of the year. Overall 5/5”.
Next Generation: “…despite its flaws, Curse, like its two predecessors, is still fun enough to remain a satisfying experience. The Monkey Island games are massively popular for a reason: people enjoy playing them. So it’s hard to find too much fault with LucasArt for epitomizing the axiom, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Overall 3/5”.
Gamespot: “There simply isn’t much to dislike about this game, except possibly the ending, which seemed a bit abrupt and anticlimactic after 20 hours of gameplay. Still, The Curse of Monkey Island should more than satisfy the cravings of the Monkey Island faithful and even appeal to gamers who don’t typically go in for graphic adventures. Overall 9/10”.
PC Gamer US: “If this isn’t destined to be a classic, I’ll swallow a cutlass. Overall 95%”.
PC Zone: “Essentially, then, The Curse Of Monkey Island offers more of the same. That’s no bad thing because there are still mad fools out there who’ve never laid their eyes on Monkey 2, but of course to us old ape hands, Monkey 3 is no longer startlingly ‘new’. It’s far more polished than its prequel, yet at the same time familiar and reassuringly tip-top territory. Overall 9.2/10”.
PC Games: “The Secret of Monkey Island was an enormous success. By contrast, LeChuck’s Revenge seemed weak, and the laughs intermittent. The Curse of Monkey Island, though, features all the vitality of the original release. If you want inventive puzzles, fine graphics, and, above all, enough wit to power an entire season of prime-time television, don’t miss this game. Overall A”.
Adventure Game of the Year 1997 – Computer Gaming World
Adventure Game of the Year 1997 – Computer Games
Best Adventure Game 1997 – Gamespot
“What’s not to like? This game looks awesome, has fab music with great SFX and voice acting with larger than life characters. It is also incredibly fun to play and is a worthy sequel to the ever-popular Monkey Island series. I’m now itching to play the next instalment.”
 Green, J., ‘Review: The Curse of Monkey Island’. Computer Gaming World. (March 1998). Issue 164:152-3.
 ‘Rating – The Curse of Monkey Island’. Next Generation. (March 1998). Issue 39:113.
 Ryan, M.E., (Nov 25 1997) ‘The Curse of Monkey Island’. Gamespot. (http://www.gamespot.com/pc/adventure/curseofmonkeyisland/review.html Accessed 18th April 2022).
 ‘Curse of Monkey Island, The,’ PC Gamer US. (February 1998). (https://web.archive.org/web/19991206173715/http://www.pcgamer.com/reviews/289.html Accessed on 18th April 2022).
 ‘PC Reviews – Monkey Island 3: The Curse of Monkey Island’. PC Zone. (https://web.archive.org/web/20080407171909/http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=3210 Accessed on 18th April 2022).
 Brenesal, B., (01/05/1998). ‘The Curse of Monkey Island’. PC Games. http://www.games.net/pcgames/articles/0%2C1034%2C1211%2C00.html?CHANNEL=pcgames&AD_SECTION=review Accessed on 18th April 2022).
 ‘CGW 1998 Premier Awards: Adventure Game of the Year’. Computer Gaming World. (March 1998). Issue 164:76.
 ‘The winners of 1997 Computer Games Award’. Computer Games Strategy Plus. (https://web.archive.org/web/20050206152953/http://www.cdmag.com/articles/009/194/1997_cgsp_awards.html Accessed on 18th April 2022).
 ‘Best & Worst Awards 1997 – Best Adventure Game’. Gamespot. (https://web.archive.org/web/20010210224852/http://www.gamespot.com/features/awards97/adven.html Accessed on 18th April 2022).