Classic RPG finally hits the Amiga

The Secret of Monkey Island logo

Publisher: Lucasfilm/US Gold Price: £29.99

Lucasfilm Games have had a string of hits with their excellent range of adventures. Thousands have chortled at titles such as Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders while others have gasped at the nail-biting action of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Whatever your tastes, Lucasfilm Games' adventures are aesy to play and fun for everyone.

Piracy and high adventure on the Spanish Main are a natural subject for a game. What better software publishers than Lucasfilm Games to bring such an epic to life? The Secret of Monkey Island was designed and created by Ron Gilbert using the third generation of Lucasfilm Games' adventure system.

You must assume the role of the bright-eyed youngster, Guybrush Threepwood. As an inhabitant of Melee Island Guybrush desperately wants to become part of the local industry - Piracy! However, something is terribly wrong with the local pirates. Instead of splicing the main brace and gathering booty, the pirates have resorted to frequenting the Scumm Bar and swilling Grog. What manner of menace can change bloodthirsty seafarers into yellowbellied landlubbers? The reason behind this apparent lack of enthusiasm is the presence of a ghostly pirate by the name of Le Chuck. Terrorising the island, Le Chuck and his cronies have the locality besieged and now no-one will leave for fear of a grisly end.

Such poppycock doesn't frighten you! A mere youth, you decide to redress the balance and sort out this Le Chuck fellow. However, before you attempt the seemingly enormous task you must first attain the status of a pirate. In order to become a scourge of the seven seas, you must first perform three basic trials of piracy - sword mastery, treasure hunting and thievery. Once you have completed the three tasks you may call yourself a pirate and hatch a plan to sort out Le Chuck once and for all.

As with other Lucasfilm Games, death and violence is suspicious in its absence. For instance, to become a master of the sword you must defeat a number of pirates in a duel to the death. However, instead of killing the unfortunate fellows you must embarrass them into defeat. You must hurl abuse at your enemy causing him to retaliate. If his response is good, he will defeat your effort and begin his own attack. When either of you runs out of witty responses you'll be disarmed and ashamed.

As I've already mentioned, The Secret of Monkey Island utilises the third generation of Lucasfilm Games' adventure system. All actions are controlled directly via the mouse. The main part of the screen is taken up by the graphics window. This section displays the game's animation sequences, all of which can be controlled with the mouse pointer. Below the graphics window is the command line - this single text line displays the command you wish to execute. A basic verb list can be found towards the bottom left portion of the screen while an inventory list is located on the right.

What manner of menace can turn bloodthirsty seafarers into yellow bellies...

Making Guybrush perform various tasks is very simple. For instance, at the beginning of the game he should talk to the pirates in the Scumm Bar in order to learn what's going on. This operation can be performed by clicking the point on the "Talk To" verb and then pointing at the appropriate pirate. The phrase "Talk To Pirate" will appear on the command line. Moving the pointer over the command line and pressing the right button will make Guybrush perform the required task.

Manipulating certain objects can be even easier. Placing the pointer over an item will cause the most appropriate verb to become highlighted. By simply pressing the left mouse button. Guybrush will perform the specified task. For example, when the pointer passes over a door the "Open" command will be highlighted. Tapping the mouse button will cause Master Threepwood to open the door.

The Secret of Monkey Island logo Amiga Format Gold

LUCASFILM/US GOLD * £24.99 Mouse

Get ready to swash your buckle, because the next port of call is Monkey Island, kingdom of the fearsome Lord LeChuck. Created by Lucasfilm out of popular myth and too many Erroll Flynn B-movie features, it's what pirating on the Golden Main should have been like, even if it wasn't.

Monkey Island has a deep, dark secret and the only person who stands a chance of uncovering it is Guybrush Threepwood; namely you. He is the star of an animated adventure set on the high seas amongst the rum types and grog drinkers of pirating legend.

He begins the game as an adventurous young lad who longs to be a pirate. Under your control he must master the necessary skills, crew a ship and set sail for Monkey Island. It's a rollicking tale of derring-do, spiced with crushingly funny puns and humour that's completely hatstand.

To the point
At the start Guy is just an ordinary bloke, found atop a look-out post professing his wish to learn the secret skills of sea-borne stealing. Armed only with the ever sharp point of the mouse cursor, you must guide him through this graphic gauntlet, choosing the proper places to visit, the right replies and the correct kit to carry. He will have to walk, talk and fight if his dreams to be fulfilled, and all controlled through a point and click mouse interface.

To bring Guybrush down from the look-out post into the town, you simply have to click on the edge of the screen and off he walks: then keep clicking until he reaches the Scumm bar, his first port of call. Select 'open' from the action menu, slap a click on the door and he's in. It's that simple! Once inside he'll find a crowd of carousing cut-throats many of whom it's advisable to converse with. Again, click 'talk to' out of the actions list, pick a pirate and he's off. When the gossip about pirating begins, you're given a list of questions or response that the young Threepwood might say. One click and it's talking time.

Ask about Loom (TM)
Technobabble aside, five minutes into Monkey Island and any being who can read English and has even the slightest spark of wit will be press-ganged into the game for good. Many computer games profess to have humour, but Monkey Island uses its cartoon-style presentation to bring out the slapstick. The speech allows some potent puns and countless graphic jokes literally litter the streets. Pre-set graphic sequences cut in whenever specific aims are reached and all posses a self-mocking tongue in cheek edge.

Sword fights are not won by the sharpest blade but by the sharpest wit, as here the pirates trade insults and not blows. Throughout the game historical anachronisms and gratuitous plugs for Loom - the game's immediate predecessor - crop up in punning asides, reminiscent of the very best Marx Brothers moments.

Keeping the humour very much in check is a well-honed adventure tale that gets progressively tougher. Lucasfilm are, after all, professionals at this sort of thing, after the Indy Jones adventures, Zak MacKracken and Loom.

First Guybrush has to find out how to become a pirate and then actually fulfil these criteria. This all takes place in the first section which is based on Melee Island - a sort of retirement home for scared pirates. Guy nips around collecting apparently useless items, robbing not-so-innocent shopkeepers and fighting anyone with an insult in their brain.

As the tale unfolds it becomes apparent that all is far from well among the freebooting folk. The biggest, baddest and deadest pirate of them all, LeChuck, now stalks the sea lanes (!) stopping all honest thievery, as his ghost ship keeps all the scurvy dogs corralled on Melee Isle. The solution to this dismal state of affairs must just lie on Monkey Island, which is where Guy will have to head once he's completed the first third of his quest. The tale is long, witty and well worthwhile waiting for...

Monkey puzzles
The puzzles that make Monkey Island a game and not a rolling, disk-based cartoon movie are as vicious as the humour. As one gets you screaming in annoyance so the other comforts and cajoles. But it will still have you tearing your hair.

The puzzles vary from mad clicking exercises in rooms, to discover what can actually be interfaced with, to choosing the best reply to an insult or question. In both cases you are often aware of the objective, but unsure of the means. This brings an element of true role play to the scenario. Unlike many so called RPGs, where the role play ends at character generation, here you have to understand Lucasfilm's slightly twisted humour and Guybrush's nature to react correctly.

It is not all sweetness and light however on Minkey (Minkey?) Island - there are some hassles involved, besides the frustration factor of the puzzles. First and foremost is the disk swapping necessary for non hard drive users. Once on a hard disk the game flows freely, but for floppy folk there are considerable number of 'Insert Disk' messages. Thanks to clear structure these are kept to a minimum. The scrolling of walk-along scenes is jerky to say the least and the slow menus can cause the occasional misplaced click when sword fighting. Lucasfilm have taken major steps to avoid repetition, though, and regularly use 'Hours later...' messages to avoid having to trek Guy back the way he has just come.

Monkey Island is a bold statement of intent from Lucasfilm, showing where they believe computer gaming should be heading. After scouring their land of the pirates you may well be inclined to agree. It's funny, testing and far deeper than Loom. Monkey Island can completed, but will take far longer. If you've time for anything slower than a shoot-em-up, or you fancy trying your hand at an adventure but sicken at the thought of Orcs and Ogres, give it bash. If you've already played Loom, Indy' Jones 3 or Zak, the fact that this is leagues ahead should be all we need to say.

The Secret of Monkey Island logo Amiga Joker Hit

Für viele ist es wahrscheinlich die beste Nachricht des Tages: Gerade eben ist die Amigaversion der geheimnisvollen Affeninsel fertig geworden - und der Joker hat auch schon eines der ersten Testmuster aufgetrieben!

Lucasfilm hatte ja schon immer einen guten Ruf, was Adventures anbelangt, aber diesmal haben die Leutchen verschärft zugeschlagen: Die Grafiken und die Benützerführung wurden verbessert, es gibt mehr Puzzles, witzigere Dialoge, einen Haufen kurzer Filmszenen, noch viel mehr animierte Personen und massenweise Sound. Also ungetrübter Abenteuerspaß? Genau!

Die Hauptfigur des vier Disketten starken Games ist ein unternehmungslustiger Jüngling namens Guybrush Threepwood. Der schippert eines schönen Tages zu der Karibinsel Melee Island, um sich dort seinen Herzenswunsch zu erfüllen - der Knabe möchte ein berühmter Pirat werden. Im Prinzip liegt er da mit Melee Island ganz richtig, denn Seeräuber gibt's hier in rauhen Mengen. Bloß daß die Jungs momentan gar nicht daran denken, ihrer gewohnten Arbeit nachzugehen; stattdessen stehen sich verschüchtert in der Gegend rum oder lassen sich in der Kneipe mit Grog vollaufen. Verantwortlich für ihre panische Angst ist Le Chuck, seines Zeichens Ex-Pirat und jetzt als Gespenst tätig. Vor ihm zittert die ganze ehrwürdige Branche, aber natürlich nicht unser junger Freund. Der läuft lieber in die örtliche Piratenschenke, um dort seinen Berufswunsch vorzutragen. Im Gastraum sitzen die Herren Freibeuter dicht an dicht - einer besoffener als der andere!

Sie haben auch etliche kleine Tips und noch viel mehr dumme Sprüche auf Lager, aber so richtig weiterhelfen können sie dem guten Guybrush nicht. Das kann erst der große Piratenhäuptling, der sich im Nebenzimmer verborgen hält. Sobald Guybrush sein Begehren losgeworden ist, erläutert ihm dieser, wer man es anstellt, in die Piratengilde aufgenommen zu werden. Die Aufnahmeprüfung besteht aus drei Teilen: Als erstes muß man den besten Schwertkämpfer der Insel im Zweikampf besiegen, dann eine wertvolle Statue aus dem Haus der Gouverneurin stibitzen (ohne sich dabei vom finster dreinblickenden Sheriff erwischen zu lassen), und schließlich noch einen verborgen Schatz auf Melee Island finden.

Das wäre ja nun alles nicht weiter schwierig. Probleme gibt's erst, weil sich Guybrush in die Gouverneurin verliebt, und diese kurz darauf von Le Chuck (dem Geisterkapitän) auf die Insel Monkey Island verschleppt wird. Wer sich auch nur ein bißchen im rauhbeinigen Seefahrergewerbe auskennt, weiß, was jetzt zu tun ist: Schnellstens die drei Prüfungen absolvieren, eine Piratencrew anheuern, nach Monkey Island schippern, dort Le Chuck aufspüren und die Geliebte befreien - fertig! Von wegen... Schon auf der Überfahrt tauchen die ersten Schwierigkeiten auf, weil die Herren Piraten sich lieber im Liegestuhl räkeln und Drinks schlürfen, als ihre Arbeit zu erledigen - Selbermachen heißt die Devise. Auf Monkey Island darf man sich dann mir höchst skurrilen Typen herumschlagen: Beispielsweise laufen da Kannibalen herum, die wegen des hohen Cholesteringgehalts von Menschenfleisch zu Vegetariern geworden sind!

Oder ein Schiffbrüchiger, das sich schon längst sein eigenes Schiff zusammengebastelt hat, es aber nicht benutzt -ein richtiger Schiffbrücher muß schließlich auf seine Rettung warten...

Monkey Island ist witzig, fesselnd und dank der nochmals verbesserten Benutzerführung auch ausgezeichnet spielbar. Um Guybrush Befehle zu geben, kann man, wie gehabt, erst eines der Verben am unteren Screenrand und anschließend den gewünschten Gegenstand im Bildfenster anklicken. Es geht jetzt aber auch einfacher: Bewegt man den Mauszeiger z.B. auf eine Tür, leuchtet in der Verbenliste der nachliegendste Befehlt auf, in unserem Fall "Öffnen". Mit der rechten Maustaste akzeptiert man diesen Vorschlag - und spart so auf Dauer eine Menge Klickarbeit. Die Grafiken sind nunmehr vollen 32 Farben zu bewundern, und der Held läuft perspektivisch richtig ins Bild hinein und wieder heraus. Apropos Perspektive: Während bei "Zak McKracken" oder "Indiana Jones" alles nur von der Seite zu sehen war, werden die Orte hier von oben, von der Seite in einer Schrägansicht gezeigt.

Damit man sich größere Landschaften aus der Vogelperspektive anschauen kann, haben die Programmierer noch einen "Overhead"-Modus eingebaut.

Selbstverständlich dürfen auch in Monkey Island die berühmten "Cut Scenes" nicht fehlen, jene kurzen animierten Filmszenen, die man anschauen, in die man aber nicht eingreifen kann. Beim Sound hat Chris Hülsbeck höchstpersönlich für den guten Ton gesorgt, das Ergebnis kann sich hören lassen: Zahlreiche Geräuscheffekte, Reggae- und Calypso-Klänge umschmeicheln das Ohr.

Bis zu zehn Spielstände lassen sich auf Harddisk oder einer formatierten Extradisk abspeichern. Warum erwähne ich diese Selbstverständlichkeit? Nun, besonders häufig braucht man hier gar nicht abzuspeichern, denn bei Monkey Island ist es praktisch unmöglich zu sterben! Es sei denn, man legt es wirklich darauf an und fordert etwa die Kannibalen mehrmals und ausdrücklich dazu auf, daß sie einen doch bitte fressen sollen... Außerdem gibt es keine Sackgassen bei der Lösung: Wer z.B. mal einen wichtigen Gegenstand verliert, braucht nicht neu zu starten, sondern findet an anderer Stelle wieder einen neuen!

Mit Monkey Island hat sich Lucasfilm förmlich selbst übertroffen: es ist noch humorvoller und wesentlich komplexer als seine Vorgänger - und es schöpft die Grafik- und Sound-Möglichkeiten des Amiga weitgehend aus. Kann man von einem Computerabenteuer eigentlich noch mehr verlangen? (C. Borgmeier)

The Secret of Monkey Island logo

Adventuring finally makes the mainstraim with The Secret Of Monkey Island - a game so stupendously funny, they could make a film of it.

Ah, Lucasfilm adventures. Never something I really got the hang of, or took a shine to, to be honest. I found the earlier efforts distinctly C64-like in style, with the mouse-controlled input system as much of a hindrance as a help. To cap it all, I found it hard to get out of my head the idea that using moving graphics in an adventure wasn't much more than a gimmick, doing little or nothing to help gameplay at all.
That was an easy enough line to take with the early efforts. By the time Loom came along, with its stronger plot, improved graphics and easier player interface, my position was starting to look a little tenuous however. The game may have been far too easy and a little ragged around the edges, but it was undeniably good. A quiet triumph for Lucasfilm, then - but nothing compared to what they've come up with now.

With The Secret Of Monkey Island, the mouse-controlled, graphic-adventure comes of age. This is a truly excellent game, easily the best I've seen this year. It's hard to think where to start with describing it, so let's take the traditional route and begin with... the plot.

Unlike so many adventure games, Monkey Island doesn't simply use the scenario as an add-on, easy changeable backdrop to the game - here the pirates/treasure/ghosts/island atmosphere so permeates every aspect of the game it would be impossible to imagine it without them. It sets a new standard of mutual-dependence between location and game that others will find bloody tricky to follow.

Specifics then. You play this helpless little guy called Guybrush Threepwood, a wannabe pirate, all-round turkey, and general starting-from-the-bottom everyman. You know the type. The game opens with his arrival at Mêlee Island, the idea to guide his stumbling steps towards true piratehood, and beyond. (Beyond? Well yes - as things unfold, you'll discover that achieving the status of swashbuckler is only the beginning. There's much buckling of the swash and, erm, swashing of the buckle to be done after that. This isn't Skull And Crossbones, that's for sure).

One of the very best things about the game is the way a fairly sophisticated sense of humour is incorporated into the game. I know what you're thinking - humour and computer games go together like Prince Charles and Sam Fox - but think again. As much as it can be said that anything does, it's the humour that really makes Monkey Island. It's intrinsic to everything. From the way just about every character in the game gets your name wrong ('Threepwood, my name's Guybrush THREEPWOOD!' you find him screaming for the zillionth time), to the patter of the used ship salesman (whose arms seem to jump about in time with his over-used mouth), who would rather give you his granny than his lower prices, it's packed with characters and situations to make you smile or simply burst out laughing.

I particularly laughed some of the commands possible ('Talk to men of low moral fibre' becomes an option when you confront some pirates), and the way you can even hold what is probably an intelligent conversation with the dog. Apparently, Fido actually gives the solution to the whole adventure away, but unless you know the doggy-lingo, you'll just have to fathom it yourself. Then there's the... but no. I'm not going to give you any more examples of the humour, partly because it will spoil the whole experience for you when (not if) you buy it and partly because, like all great comedy moments, you really do have to be there.

The Secret Of Monkey Island creams 'em all in style

So leaving atmosphere, plot and the like aside for a moment, how does it all work in a more technical sort of way. Well, for a start you have to take on board that none of this character control lark is done by typing. Most of you will realise that already, of course, but just in case you've just tuned in to the Lucasfilm channel and aren't familiar with their thang, you many be pretty amazed to learn that the whole thing is done with the mouse, using a point-and-click interface.

This means that at any point in time, the computer will display all possible options on-screen. Even when holding conversations with other characters, all you have to do is move the mouse onto one of the various possible lines on offer, then click the mouse button. Hey presto, your character speaks. It may sound a bit limited, but in fact it's anything but - because these options are so context-sensitive, that the command system comes across as being very comprehensive, while at the same time splendidly smooth and easy to use.

Lucasfilm have managed to find a compromise between the fluidity and flair of a rigid storyline, and the intelligent realism of more freeform adventures - it's a system that allows you to more or less forget about the specifics of what you're actually physically doing (sitting at a desk with a computer in front of you, presumably) and loose yourself in the adventure instead.

Oh, did I tell you about the music yet? No? Well I sure hope you like reggae - this is one program that really skanks (translation for non-music types: It's got a rather spiffing Jamaican beat). Bob Marley would be proud of these tunes (well, fairly proud). And that's about it for presentation. Great atmosphere, pleasing humour, lovely sound, the best input system we've seen yet, not to mention the pretty stupendous graphics (I thought I'd let you take that as read), there's only one aspect of the game we haven't really touched on yet - just how well has the actual adventure been designed? It's the sort of thing that can really sink (sorry, accidental pirate pun) an otherwise excellent game.

Which is why I'm pleased to say Monkey Island has been designed better than any adventure I've ever seen before. (Had you worried for a minute there, eh?). Everything shows such attention to detail and consistency of form that you are completely drawn into the whole piracy experience - it would be no exaggeration to say that no matter how you progress through this game, the resultant series of events could easily be used as a script for a pirate movie. And what a box-office smash it would be! (Okay, so a couple of the jokes have been ripped out of The Princess Bride, but they were worth telling anyway).

Just think for a minute - how many times have software companies boasted that their product really is 'Just like taking part in a film', and 'A truly cinematic experience'. And how many times have you thought 'Hmm, well, sort of' and been vaguely disappointed? Well, be disappointed no longer - her is the first game I've ever seen which really justifies such claims (even though - to Lucasfilm's credit - nobody's actually making any!). We're not just talking about screen displays that look as if they were done under the guidance of Ridley Scott, all eerie blues and arty angles, either - it goes further than that. Move your guy, and he'll actually react correctly to the 3D-ness of the scene, the camera panning all the while. And of course that groovy music I've already mentioned actually changes to suit the scene too.
The lastability of the game is the only sticking point, but this is a problem that can't be avoided with adventures. A projected 30 hour play time may not seem much for £30 hours of pure fun and satisfaction, it's not much of a grumble.

If this review seems just too enthusiastic, there is a very good reason for it. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed playing a computer game so much. Even the fighting sequences are done with flair, insults being much more important than sword-fighting skills. Forget all those milestone adventures (Zork, The Hobbit, Lord Of The Rings et al) - for sheer enjoyment and general all-round perfection The Secret Of Monkey Island creams 'em all in style. I just can't wait for the sequel.

Getting the hang of pirate-ese is no mean feat. Thankfully those swarthy types at Lucasfilm know how to meet the demands of the adventurer about town, and have come up with what has to be the ultimate in text-without-typing parsers.
The Secret of Monkey Island: Explanation of the User Interface
a. This is the main action screen. The 'camera always keeps Guybrush in the picture.
b. Anything spoken or any noised made are shown on the main action screen.
c. This is the command area.
d. On the left all possible options for sentence construction, or things to say are displayed.
e. The top line shows the full command ready to be executed.
f. The list on the right shows all of Guybrush's objects. Once the list exceeds five objects, arrows appear, allowing the player to scroll the list up or down.
1. Simply highlight the word you need with the cursor, then click the left mouse button.
2. By doing this a few more times quite complex sentences can be constructed.
3. The default command is WALK, so simply clicking an area of the screen with the left mouse button will instruct Guybrush to walk there.
4. Depending what you've chosen on the screen, the computer might highlight a suggested word (such as open, if you select a door). Simply clicking on the right mouse button will select this suggestion.
No tale of piracy and buried treasure is complete without some, erm, interesting characters. The Secret Of Monkey Island is no exception.
The Secret of Monkey Island: A Character
Just don't ask what happened to his eye!
The Secret of Monkey Island: A Character
Don't ask him either! (Actually, he proves useful later on).
The Secret of Monkey Island: A Character
Erm, nice pair of ear rings, missus.
The Secret of Monkey Island: A Character
Can you read that badge? It says 'Ask me about Loom'.

The Secret of Monkey Island logo CU Amiga Screenstar

Guybrush Threepwood has an ambition in life - to become a pirate. SO he's travelled to Melee Island in the Caribbean to seek his fortune and a way into the closed and elitist society of the swashbucklers. Getting some experience with the fairer sex is also on his mind, needless to say. He soon finds out that to join the gang he has to complete three tasks - learn swordplay, thievery, and treasure hunting. While attempting these tasks, Guy soon discovers that all is not how it seems on Melee Island and the mysterious Monkey Island...

Following in the tradition of other Lucasfilm adventures, Monkey Island has a graphic-based style with animated characters, including Threepwood himself. He not only wanders around, but also interacts with his environment - he'll walk up to and read posters, and he has a wide range of facial expressions.

Below the graphic display is a list of commands, which activate when clicked. For example, if you want Guy to grab a sword from a table on the far side of the room, click on "Pick up", then on the word, and our hero will walk straight to the item and take it if possible. The most humorous option is "Talk to"; choosing this brings up a menu of hilarious options, and nearly always includes some colourful insult (for example, "You're a bunch of foul-smelling, grog-swilling pigs!").

As Threepwood travels through the islands, he collects the items that are needed to solve the fiendish puzzles. The inventory at the bottom right of the screen shows what he's carrying, and can be scrolled through to find the required object. Solving the challenges is not just a question of logic - imagination is vital! For instance, when Guy goes to the circus and meets the Fetuccini brothers, they need someone to test their human cannonball. Unfortunately, they won't let Guy near cannon until he's wearing a safety helmet, and of course, there isn't one on the island. Ingenuity supplies the answer - use a metal pot instead!

As the game progresses, it becomes apparent that the ghost of Captain LeChuck, an infamous pirate of yesteryear, is terrorising the shipping lanes of the area. He's also connected to Elaine Marley, the raven-haired beauty who happens to be Governor of Melee Island.

As fate would have it, our hero falls in love with her at first sight; which is a little unfortunate, as her mansion contains the idol he has to steal to complete one of his quests! Other characters include a troll, a prisoner with bad breath, and even an ex-pirate called Hook who's scared of parrots and has a talking tattoo (honestly).

As with many Lucasfilm games, Monkey Island doesn't punish the player with instant death for making silly mistakes. Usually there's always a second chance, and danger zones are clear. Still it's imperative to save frequently, as there's always a point when you realise that you've forgotten something vital earlier on. Therefore make sure you save on a regular basis so backtracking is an option.

Visually this game is impressive, even though the general style is nothing new from this company. It's the little touches that stand out; facial expressions, animals acting in a realistic (or silly) fashion, and a host of other details are a delight to watch. The music is also of a very high calibre, with calypso and reggae ditties playing in the background. Yet it's the quality of the play that makes this a winner. The challenges are always quirky, original and amusing, but not pitched so high that novices will become discouraged early on. I especially liked Stan, the flashy and anachronistic ship salesman, who loves to haggle over the price of one of his decrepit vessels (or "previously owned craft", as he likes to call them). Getting a ship from him means watching carefully what happens on the screen elsewhere.

When the action moves to Monkey Island itself things really start to hot up, and the story - as well as the graphics - moves up a gear. The main problem with this part of the story is that there's too much backtracking required. Guybrush has to match all over the island a number of times to get results, and this can be a bit of a drag, especially when he's travelling by boat.

If adventures are your thing - or you fancy trying something with humour, challenge and style - I recommend this as a great game to while away the evenings. The size of the adventure alone provides value for money, and the unavoidable disk-swapping has been kept as minimal as possible. Just don't forget the grog!