The Secret of Monkey Island
Game Comparison

Released: 1990 |  Genre: Adventure |  Publisher: Lucasfilm Games

Platforms: Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, FM Towns, Sega CD, Classic Mac OS

The Secret of Monkey Island

The Secret of Monkey Island is a 1990 point-and-click graphic adventure game, it was developed and published by Lucasfilm Games. Regarded as one of the great games of it’s era, and has featured on later consoles with updated graphics too.

The game was conceived in 1988 by Lucasfilm employee Ron Gilbert, who designed it with Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman. Gilbert’s frustrations with contemporary adventure titles led him to make the player character’s death almost.

The Setting

It takes place in a fictional version of the Caribbean during the age of piracy. The player assumes the role of Guybrush Threepwood, a young man who dreams of becoming a pirate and explores fictional islands while solving puzzles.

The Secret of Monkey Island Development

The game was conceived in 1988 by Lucasfilm employee Ron Gilbert, who designed it with Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman. Gilbert’s frustrations with contemporary adventure titles led him to make the player character’s death almost impossible, which meant that gameplay focused the game on exploration. The atmosphere was based on that of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme park ride. The Secret of Monkey Island was the fifth game built with the SCUMM engine, which was heavily modified to include a more user-friendly interface.

The early releases of the game came with copy-protection. A cardboard wheel, named “Dial-a-Pirate”, was provided, and the player had to match the pirate shown on-screen with that of the wheel.

Secret of Monkey Island Dial-a-pirate
Dial-a-Pirate

Reception

The Secret of Monkey Island received positive reviews from critics. According to Gilbert, it “sold well” but was “never a big hit”. Grossman later summarized that the game’s sales were “north of 100,000, far south of 1 million”. According to Next Generation, The Secret of Monkey Island was a “relatively minor hit” in the United States, but the game and its sequel became “blockbusters on the PC and the Amiga throughout Europe.”

Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser of Dragon praised the designers’ attention to detail, and cited the game’s humor as a high point. Although they believed that the game was too expensive, they summarized it as “a highly enjoyable graphic adventure replete with interesting puzzles, a fantastic Roland soundtrack, superb VGA graphics, smooth-scrolling animation, and some of the funniest lines ever seen on your computer screen.” Duncan MacDonald of Zero praised the graphics and found the game “quite amusing”.

His favorite aspect was the fine-tuned difficulty level, which he believed was “just right”. He ended his review, “At last an adventure game that’s enjoyable rather than frustrating.”

Paul Glancey of Computer and Video Games consider the game superior to Lucasfilm’s earlier adventure titles, and wrote that, “Usually the entertainment you get from an adventure is derived solely from solving puzzles, but the hilarious characters and situations, and the movie-like presentation … make playing this more like taking part in a comedy film, so it’s much more enjoyable.” He considered the puzzles to be “brilliantly conceived” and found the game’s controls accessible. He summarized it as “utterly enthralling”.

The Secret of Monkey Island Game Box Arts

Secret of Monkey Island Amiga
Secret of Monkey Island Atari ST
Secret of Monkey Island Sega CD
Secret of Monkey Island MS DOS
Secret of Monkey Island Macintosh

Title Screens

Secret of Monkey Island Amiga
Secret of Monkey Island Atari ST
Secret of Monkey Island Sega CD
Secret of Monkey Island FM Towns
Secret of Monkey Island MS DOS
Secret of Monkey Island Macintosh

Gameplay Screens - The Secret of Monkey Island

Secret of Monkey Island Amiga
Secret of Monkey Island Atari ST
Secret of Monkey Island Sega CD
Secret of Monkey Island FM Towns
Secret of Monkey Island MS DOS
Secret of Monkey Island Macintosh

The Secret of Monkey Island
on Commodore Amiga

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