The Curse of Monkey Island: Banjo dueling

(This is part of my journey going playing through 1997’s The Curse of Monkey Island. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

Now that Guybrush has accidentally cursed his love Elaine into becoming a solid gold statue, he’s got a new mission in life: Get that smart and sassy redhead uncursed ASAP!

And by “ASAP” I mean “after wandering around a lot of silly areas doing a whole lot of foolishness.” I’m down for that. Guybrush is on Puerto Pello, a chicken-infested island. Chickens are pretty funny by themselves, so that’s a good choice.

And those wanderings are going to have to include stealing Elaine back from some pirates who figured that a giant thing of gold was worth a few bucks.

Man, I can’t get over how amazingly good this art looks! When you want to turn every location into your desktop wallpaper, you know the team did a good job.

Anyway, in the swamp Guybrush once again encounters Murray the skull. He’s been planted on a pike by some voodoo kids, and while he talks a big game of terrorizing everyone, he’s really bored out of his, erm, skull.

So the fortune teller from the first two games returns to lay out Guybrush’s goals: To get Elaine back and to lift the curse by replacing the bad ring with a good one. She suggests heading to Blood Island for that ring, but warns Guybrush that he’ll die if he goes there, so it’s going to be a wash. And to get to this island, he’ll need a map, a ship, and a crew.

I’m always a sucker for cartoony art styles in video games where landscapes and architecture is exaggerated and all wonky, like we see here in the town of Puerto Pollo. It’s what I think of as the “Dr. Suess style,” if that makes sense.

Man, I cannot get over how wonderful this art style is. It even makes casual thieving and plundering of some poor actor’s prop room a fun activity.

Excuse me, I’ll just be rolling in the aisles here as this game lampoons pretentious theater productions. About time someone rewrote Shakespeare! And called it… ‘SPEARE! Guybrush is not impressed.

“Break a peg-leg!” he tells them.

At the pirate barbers — of course pirates need a good hairstyling now and then! — Guybrush accidentally overshares about the giant diamond ring, its location, and the fact that his girlfriend is a solid gold statue. Way to go, dude.

Well, it’s a barbershop full of barbershop quartet-singing pirates. Guybrush tries to join by offering up a commercial jingle for Silver’s Long Johns (“They breathe!”), but the lead guy entreats him: “You must now take an oath before man and God to never sing in public again.”

Guybrush does get his first member of the crew — for a boat he has yet to procure — by challenging Edward Van Helgen to a banjo duel. It’s a bit of a Simon Sez minigame (not my favorite), but I did get a laugh at how Guybrush finally wins by outright shooting Van Helgen’s banjo to pieces.

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