Reply To: First impressions
I’ve played way too much Monkey Island to be able to offer a first impression any more. I’m amazed how well it still holds together though. The humour is still fresh, the puzzle design spot on, the graphics have aged well and the music is as catchy as ever. It’s a game where everything seems to have gone right. About the only criticism I have was the amount of silence there was in the soundtrack which surprised me a bit going back. The version I was playing didn’t even have most of the sound effects if you were playing with MT-32 music.
I’ve moved onto the sequels and while it’s still a classic, I enjoyed Monkey Island 2 less than I expected. Guybrush was a less sympathetic character and there seemed to be a good deal less humour with more high adventure in its place. The production values were certainly better with a full iMuse soundtrack and more animation. It could just be a case of playing it to death years back having spoiled it for me these days but I think it lost a little of the charm. Some sections were quite dark really so maybe it was going for the moody second entry in the series like Star Wars and Indiana Jones. God knows there were enough references to both of those elsewhere. Some of the puzzle design was definitely worse than anything in #1 (e.g. the infamous monkey wrench).
I might even prefer Curse Of Monkey Island which isn’t something I expected to say. The humour fell flat on a few occasions but it had enough memorable sections to make up for it and the graphical and audio overhaul were fantastic for the time. I particularly loved the sea shanty bit and the banjo dueling.
Playing all these games back to back, it’s noticeable how inconsistent they are with the characters and world. Personalities change every time and each sequel appears further removed from the original. Monkey Island was vaguely true to the historical period of the game but by Monkey Island 3 we’ve got beach clubs with cabana boys, amusement parks of death with roller coasters, radar guided cannons, etc.. It isn’t just the graphics that got more cartoony as the series progressed.
I’m on to Escape From Monkey Island now which is going to take far longer as unlike the first three I don’t already know how to solve all the puzzles. I did play it back in the day but only once and I’ve forgotten it all. I’m hoping I like it more now than I did then but I’m not hopeful.