Secret of Monkey Island: Swordplay and treasure

(This is part of my journey going playing through 1990’s Secret of Monkey Island. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

With three trials ahead of him to become a full-fledged pirate, Guybrush Threepwood has his work cut out for him. First stop? The circus, of course!

The circus is run by two argumentative siblings, the Fettucini Brothers. They don’t want to test out the human-shooting cannon, so Guybrush, um, volunteers and is promptly smacked against the pole on the far side of the tent. Good thing this is a LucasArts game, else that would have been a game over screen!

In a snarky twist, when Guybrush is lying upside-down and dazed, his dialogue options are ALSO upside-down on the screen. Clever devs.

I’ll say that after flipping back and forth from the original to the special edition, I’ve actually taken more to a shine to the classic with its pixel art and chunky text than the flatter graphics of the remake, so I’m going to stick with the original going forward.

Another aspect of this game that makes it a hoot to play is that you’re able to choose from some really wacky dialogue choices. Sure, there are the tame and normal ones, but what’s the fun in that? I always go for the crazy ones first.

After buying a sword and shovel, I’m off to knock out two of my three trials. First up is proving myself a master swordsman, which will be difficult seeing as I hardly know how to fight. Fortunately, Captain Smirk there agrees to train me (with his MACHINE) for 30 pieces of eight. That makes me technically competent to fight, but I have to learn the other half — the insults.

In a really awesome twist, this game’s fight mechanics is all about insults and responses. Basically, one person spits out an insult and the other has to respond, and if that response doesn’t make sense, then the first person presses the advantage and starts winning the fight. Guybrush doesn’t have a lot of insults and responses at first, but the more he picks fights, the more he hears these usable lines and collects them like Pokemon. Finally, he’s good enough to take on the feared Sword Master — Carla.

She’s tougher because (a) she has insults Guybrush hasn’t heard yet, and (b) he has to use old comebacks in new ways. But all in all, Carla isn’t too hard and she gives up. From this, I get a (drumroll) t-shirt! Hey, whatever proves my capability.

The treasure hunting is a little tricky as well. Guybrush purchases a map to the legendary lost treasure from a shady-looking pirate, but the paper turns out to be dance instructions. OR IS IT? Nope, it’s actually a thinly veiled guide through a forest maze to what turns out to be a frequently visited treasure spot.

Another tee! This game, guys, it is weird. At least Guybrush doesn’t seem that put off.

3 thoughts on “Secret of Monkey Island: Swordplay and treasure

  1. Jeromai February 28, 2019 / 10:05 am

    Ah, the good old days when insult swordfighting was an artform…rather than this newfangled “trash-talking!”

    Watch out for the poodles.

  2. Mailvaltar March 5, 2019 / 4:41 pm

    Oh, really? You’re fighting like a cow!
    (that’s one of the standard comebacks that never work, in the German version)

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