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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Adventure

 

Publisher

LucasArts

 

Developer

LucasArts

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q3 2000

 

 

- Outstanding graphics

- Lots of humour and funny

dialogue

- Simple navigation and interface

- Puzzles can be solved with "logical" thought and taking notes

- Great voice acting

- Some optional ways to attain items

- Many characters from previous MI games appear

- New characters are a lot of fun

- No way to die

 

 

- Monkey Kombat can grow tiresome

- "Bounce" effect

 

 

Review: Escape from Monkey Island (Playstation 2)
Review: Syberia (PC)

Review: Drunna (PC)

 

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Escape from Monkey Island

Score: 9.4 / 10

Escape from Monkey Island (EFMI) is a solid fix for adventure gamers going through severe withdrawal. Guybrush and company may save the adventure genre as a distinct entity.

Everyone should be familiar with the story: Guybrush and Elaine return to Melee Island after a three month honeymoon to find that Elaine has been declared dead and that a fellow by the name of Charles L. Charles is poised to take over as governor. In the process of stopping Charles, Guybrush runs afoul of a newcomer, Ozzie Mandrill, who is turning the Tri-Island area into a trendy tourist destination by "reprogramming" pirates and forcing businesses to close by challenging their owners to insult fights. Guybrush will have to plunge the depths of Monkey Island to discover the secrets of the Ultimate Insult, which has the power to squash the ego of every pirate in the Tri-Island area. Of course, there are plot twists to contend with but they all tie up nicely at the end.

efmi-1a.jpg (15469 bytes)         efmi-1b.jpg (14816 bytes)

Graphics will be the first thing everyone notices about this game. They are beautiful! The colours are vibrant and lush, so much so, that youíll feel warmer. Environments are very detailed, right down to the palm trees and sea gulls. Guybrush comes alive like never before. Most 3D characters will stand still when interacting with other characters. Not so in EFMI. Guybrush breathes! It sounds like a small detail but it makes the world that much more alive. (It also explains why you need a 3D accelerator to run the game.) And heíll wave his hands around to make a point. The same goes for all the characters.

(The only problem with the graphics was that running the game in D3D gave me a few video glitches, but playing under Glide solved the problem.)

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Also helping to bring the characters to life is the great voice acting. Many voices found in Curse of Monkey Island reprise their roles and all are in top form.  A lot of the humour comes from the dialogue. A bad joke can be delivered by the most brilliant comedian and get no laughs. But the jokes in EFMI are funny by themselves. The dialogue also acts as a way to point Guybrush in the right direction by offering clues about other characters or about what they might need. 

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Sometimes itís not immediately obvious what needs to be done but if you pay attention youíll know what you have to do. The music is very familiar so fans of the series will feel right at home. Itís a good soundtrack and very memorable.

Escape from Monkey Island couldnít be called an adventure game unless it contained puzzles and itís got plenty. All the puzzles can be solved with a little logic. (Logic should adjusted to "computer adventure game" mode.) Having a pen and paper nearby to take notes is good idea, too. Some of the puzzles are tough, especially one involving a prosthetics shop that would made Hannibal Lector proud. There are the basic retrieval puzzles and even a chess puzzle to work through. One task requires very careful timing to complete. There arenít any twitch games. But my biggest complaint is toward the end of the game regarding Monkey Kombat. Itís along the lines of Insult Swordfighting but with an extra step that makes mastering it a long period of trial and error. There are five moves that can be executed but to perform each move you must know the specific "Eek, Oop, Ack, Eech" combination. Thatís not really a problem but you must keep in mind which moves can defeat the opponents stance. It really slows down the pace of the game to a frustrating crawl. Once all the moves and combinations are known itís a cakewalk but getting there can be annoying. Overall, the puzzles provide just the right amount of challenge.

Interacting with the environment is along the lines of Grim Fandango. As Guybrush walks around heíll turn his head toward objects that can be picked up or looked at and a brief description will appear at the bottom of the screen. (If a description appears itís a good bet that youíll have to pick up or use something on that item) Sometimes Guybrush bends his head at uncomfortable angles but heís a computer character so I suppose he doesnít mind.

efmi-1c.jpg (16258 bytes)          efmi-1d.jpg (12922 bytes)

Control is via the keyboard or gamepad and works well for the most part. There is the occasional "bounce" off corners and walls. (Another hold over from Grim Fandango.) This "bounce" usually sends Guybrush in a different direction than you wanted. This is only a problem if you force Guybrush to run everywhere. In a few spots Guybrush gets caught on an invisible obstacle and canít get unstuck until he turns around or slowly backs out. This occurs mostly with the overhead maps. Getting to the overhead maps has been simplified. Hitting "O" will take Guybrush to the overhead map of whatever island he is on. Handling the inventory is simple and is reminiscent of Tomb Raider.

I highly recommend Escape from Monkey Island. Action gamers might not like the relatively slow pace, but adventure gamers will be in heaven. Players of the previous three games will get more of the in-jokes and be familiar with some of the characters and locations, but itís accessible enough for those new to the Monkey Island universe. This is what an adventure game should be: easy to look at, great puzzles and sound, simple interaction, humour, solid writing and the power to transport the player somewhere else for some fun. If itís not on your Christmas list, it should be.

- Omni

 

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