Posted in Retro Gaming

Secret of Monkey Island: Guybrush overboard!

(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.)

Astute players of this game might recall that Guybrush’s one defining skill — as relayed to the Important Pirate Leaders — is that he can hold his breath for ten minutes. This seemingly useless trait suddenly has incredible bearing on the situation once Fester Shinetop attempts to drown Guybrush at the bottom of the ocean.

Here’s where the game really likes to tweak players, because there are all of these sharp pirate weapons all over the place on the ocean floor — but Guybrush’s tether isn’t long enough to reach any of them. Adding insult to injury, two pirates end up walking right overhead discussing how they want to get rid of an incriminating knife by throwing it into the water… and then they end up keeping it and walking away.

You know how I said at the start of this playthrough that I liked how these LucasArt games wouldn’t kill you at every turn? To my knowledge, this is the single way you can bite it in the game, by waiting for ten minutes in this spot as Guybrush’s face turns all sorts of delightful colors. Finally, he perishes and the parser commands change to things like “rot” and “order hint book.” They don’t DO anything, but it’s amusing.

What’s even funnier is that the solution to this “puzzle” is insultingly easy. Guybrush already had picked up the idol before, so all he needs to do now is pick it up again to climb out of the water. Easy peasy.

Up on the dock, Guybrush spies a GHOST SHIP sailing away and is understandably perturbed at its passing. He feels even worse when the lookout from the very start of the game comes down and tells Guybrush that LaChuck has kidnapped Elaine to take her to Monkey Island. See, Elaine was actually coming to rescue our hapless hero when she was intercepted by her zombie stalker. Since that makes this partially Guybrush’s responsibility, he vows to get her back. It’s a really cheesy moment as he gets all gushy on Elaine and sappy music swells up, which allows me to forgive the revival of this tired your-princess-is-in-another-monkey-castle trope.

Of course, that’s not going to be easy. He’s not even a full pirate yet, and he lacks a crew and a boat to get off Melee Island.

The cook in the now-abandoned SCUMM bar entreats Guybrush to undertake this task to rescue their beloved governor. Why him? Because he has “love” written all over his face, obviously.

Ahem.

As Guybrush starts to assemble his crew — which includes Otis the prisoner and Carla the sword master — a cutscene informs us that Elaine is doing her darndest to escape LeChuck. It actually turns out that Fester Shinetop is LeChuck in disguise! I had totally forgotten that from my previous playthrough.

One of the crew that Guybrush needs to recruit is ol’ Meathook here (he has two hook-hands, you see). He’s reluctant to sign up until Guybrush proves himself by touching “the beast” that took his hands. Or a relative of the beast that did that. A descendant, at least. Doors open, Meathook gets visibly more anxious and moves to a safe distance…

The suspense builds as the final door opens…

…to reveal, of course, a tiny little parrot. Guybrush tickles him and that’s that. Meathook is suitably impressed and signs up. It’s a classic sequence that had me laughing out loud once again.

A crew is all well and good, but a pirate captain needs a boat — and only Stan, the owner of Stan’s Previously Owned Vessels — is around to sell one. The music, manic gestures, and tacky ships are all spot-on for a parody of a used car salesman, and I can understand why Stan has become a beloved fixture in this franchise.

Ship procured, crew assigned, pirate status attained — is there nothing that will stand in the way of Guybrush Threepwood and his destiny? Probably 66% of the remainder of the game will, if adventure game logic holds.

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