Yes, friends, your old pal Guybrush Threepwood is back for his fourth appearance, but this time he’s in 3-D!
Guybrush, now married to the beautiful but dangerous Governor Marley, returns to his old stomping grounds on Melee Island(TM) (all of the islands in the game series are trademarked for some reason) to find most of the pirates gone, and his wife declared dead. You must help save her mansion from being destroyed, and sail forth to try to find lawyers to help your plight.
Of course, nothing is that easy, as you must figure out how to accomplish necessary tasks each step of the way. Who knows, you may end up on the mysterious Monkey Island(TM) again.
Having played the first two games in the Monkey Island series, I was always entertained by the off-the-wall humor that those games were inundated with. The humor even worked its way into most of the puzzles, so that they were seldom a straightforward challenge.
Escape from Monkey Island is no different in this regard. The humor is top-notch, as was expected, and the storyline is quite engaging. The puzzles all have the Monkey Island twist to them, so that correct solution may not be immediately obvious, but you kick yourself when you finally solve them.
What has improved incredibly over the last decade (the original, Secret of Monkey Island came out in 1990 or so) is of course the graphics and sound. The music is very reminiscent of the old days, but now that the sound is rearranged for digital it sounds infinitely better. Graphics are the same deal, with all your beloved characters like Governor Marley and Timmy the Monkey jumping out at you in 3D. Seeing these 10-year-old characters come to life like this was quite a treat.
Unfortunately, one thing that hasn’t improved incredibly since the first game is the control interface. Well, let me rephrase that: the interface has changed quite a bit, but it now has a whole different set of inconveniences.
The worst thing has to be that this game has absolutely no mouse support. You make Guy move around by means of the arrow keys on your keyboard (well, it says on the box that there is support for gamepads and joysticks, but that essentially works out to the same thing). When you get near something or someone, menu options appear at the bottom of the screen, like, "Talk to Man". You can then hit the Enter key to do that action, or one of a few letter keys to do something else with that object. If more than one option appears on the screen you can toggle up and down the list with the Page Up and Down keys. Then, once you are finished, you have to turn Guy to the left or right until he is facing the way you want, then go forward. It is quite an inconvenience.
Why couldn’t they have made it so you could use your mouse to click on a destination and have Guy go there without all this typing? That’s how it was in the first two games. Admittedly, with a dinky little pixilated picture it’s easier to handle mouseovers than with a 3D environment, but I bet they could have had some level of mouse support with this game, if only to make my life easier.
Despite the difficulties with the interface, Escape from Monkey Island is an incredibly funny, good-looking and great-sounding game. I give it 3.5 GiN Gems out of 5, and I’m not monkeying around.