Still My Favourite Game Of All-Time!
An honest review of Escape From Monkey Island
Escape From Monkey Island. Some of you will be shuddering just reading the name alone. I on the other hand, go all warm and fuzzy inside.
If you’ve read my reviews before, watched my YouTube videos, or even know me in real life (shock horror), you’ll know how I feel about the Monkey Island games. If you don’t, it’s my favourite series of games ever created. EVER.
Most people who grew up during the Point & Click era love Monkey Island too. But when it comes to Escape From Monkey Island, it really does split opinion.
We’ll go into that more later on, but first, let me give a bit of my own history with this game.
There’s a 4th Monkey Island game!?
I first encountered Escape From Monkey Island many years after playing the first two instalments in the series.
I was visiting my grandparents for the day. My Grandpa had a pc and often bought us games to play that involved puzzle solving.
Well this particular time, I noticed a new game case (Escape From Monkey Island) and was instantly intrigued. I wasn’t aware a fourth game had been released and I don’t think he even knew that I really loved Monkey Island games.
Anyway, I installed the game on his PC, which took about half an hour (remember those days?) and booted it up.
What I didn’t know, was his PC was custom built for work and not gaming. This meant the textures didn’t load in properly. I didn’t actually realise this though. I just assumed the characters were meant to look like ghosts; especially given the start of the game where Guybrush and Elaine are officially declared dead. It was only when I started picking up items that I couldn’t see that I finally put two and two together.
Sadly, this meant I wasn’t able to progress past the first part of the game but luckily, I’d get another chance a couple of years later.
Roll on the early 00’s and I finally managed to get my hands on a PS2 and with it, Escape From Monkey Island. It was the only PS2 game that I had to start with and the main driving force behind me actually getting the console in the first place.
I spent the next 6 months not really playing anything else. You could say I knew the game inside out.
Probably the main reason I look back on it so fondly is it was the first game I really played with both of my younger brothers.
Sure, we’d played video games together before. Multiplayer, Co-Op but this was really the first time all of us sat and played the game together.
We spent hour upon hour trying to figure out how to solve the puzzles, work out Monkey Kombat and just loving the general humour and fun that this game contains.
Nostalgia certainly plays a big part of why I love this game so much.
The first thing we realise as the game begins is that we now have full 3D characters in Escape From Monkey Island.
The hand-drawn style of The Curse of Monkey Island is replaced but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Escape From Monkey Island runs off of the same engine as another hit LucasArts point and click adventure; Grim Fandango (GrimE).
Now it’s worth mentioning that this particular style of graphics has not aged particularly well. It now looks quite old and dated. But, in some ways that actually adds to the humour for me.
A serious game probably wouldn’t be as enjoyable had it aged the same way.
One of my favourite aspects of Escape From Monkey Island is the return of well known, fan-favourite characters who were absent from some of the other instalments in the series.
We once again team up with Carla & Otis, encounter Meathook and of course, LeChuck finds another way to come back and haunt us with his evil plans for world domination! Let’s not forget his determination to steal our former girlfriend (now wife) Elaine Marley.
One of the best parts of LeChuck’s character in Escape From Monkey Island is that he now regularly switches between each of his forms from the previous games — Ghost pirate, Zombie and Fire Demon.
There’s also cameos from the likes of Murray the talking skull who never fails to amuse with his obsession to try to become the most evil character in the world. And of course, everybody’s favourite crazy hermit; Herman Toothrot! We actually find out Herman’s true identity in this game and boy is it a SHOCK!
Despite my Monkey Island tinted glasses, I would be a complete liar if I were to say this was a perfect game. In fact, it’s far from it.
Probably my biggest pet hate with Escape From Monkey Island are the tank controls that came with the Grim engine it runs off. This was the upgrade to the SCUMM engines previously used on Lucas Arts titles - initially created for Grim Fandango.
Personally, I just don’t feel this style of controls works very well for point and click adventure games. There are too many items to interact with that would normally involve moving the mouse around to find. Manually walking with the arrow keys to an area and positioning Guybrush to look at certain things isn’t very intuitive, at least to me.
As a side note, I actually feel the tank controls work far better on the PS2 version of Escape From Monkey Island, where you use a controller instead of a keyboard. Moving Guybrush around with an analog stick is far more user friendly than arrow keys.
Ahhh the dreaded Monkey Kombat mini-game. Escape From Monkey Island’s new version of the insult mini-games from the previous instalments, only this time you need to memorise button combinations for different poses.
Many critics of the game will tell you that Monkey Kombat is confusing and frustrating. It certainly takes a little getting used to but all you really need is a piece of paper and a pen to write down which moves beat the others, and the transition combinations to move from one move to the next.
Personally, I’ve always enjoyed working out things like this. It’s more solving a puzzle than winning a mini-game to me.
When you add in the fact that you already compete in insult arm wrestling on Melee Island at the start of the game, and then insult sword fighting against Ozzie Mandrill too; I don’t think Monkey Kombat is bad at all.
Dare I say it? I think people hate Monkey Kombat purely because they don’t like Escape From Monkey Island as much as the other entries in the Monkey Island series.
I’ve toyed with how to end this particular review for a long time now. In fact, I’ve written it 7 or 8 different times over the past 6 months, summarising different aspects of the game and going into further detail. But instead, I’ve decided to end it like this:
Escape From Monkey Island is not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination. But it is MY perfect game. It brings back fond memories of hours spent tirelessly working to solve the challenging puzzles with my brothers, laughing endlessly at the light hearted humour delivered by the characters in the classic Monkey Island way, and that immense sense of satisfaction that comes with finally working out what you need to do to move forward in point and click adventure games.
Many don’t like it and never will. I on the other hand adore this game and nothing can ever change that.
If you’d like to see my full playthrough of this game over on my YouTube channel, you can watch right here: