Escape from Monkey Island
|Escape from Monkey Island|
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, PlayStation 2|
The game centers on the pirate Guybrush Threepwood, who returns home with his wife Elaine Marley after their honeymoon, to find her erroneously declared dead, and her office of governor up for election. Guybrush must find a way to restore Elaine to office, while uncovering a plot to turn the Caribbean into a tourist trap, headed by his nemesis LeChuck and an Australian conspirator Ozzie Mandrill.
Escape was the last of LucasArts' adventure games to be released. It was also the second and last game to use the GrimE engine, which was upgraded from its first use in Grim Fandango. The game is now available on GOG.com and Steam.
Escape from Monkey Island is an adventure game that consists of dialogue with characters and solving puzzles. The game is controlled entirely with the keyboard or alternatively with a joystick, making it the only non-point-and-click game in the Monkey Island series.
A feature of the game are action-lines: Guybrush will glance at any items that can be interacted with; the player can use 'Page Up' or 'Page Down' to select the item that he wants Guybrush to look at.
One of the hallmark aspects of the Monkey Island games, the insult swordfighting — the sword duels which were won by knowing the appropriate insults and responses — is briefly touched upon in the game as "insult armwrestling", and in an unwinnable insult duel against Ozzie Mandrill. In the second part of the game, the insult games are replaced by "Monkey Kombat", the name being a parody of Mortal Kombat with a symbol to match. Monkey Kombat is a sub-game akin to rock-paper-scissors, where the player needs to memorize lines of "monkey insults and retorts" which consist of per-game randomized compositions of "monkey words" like "oop", "chee", "ack" and "eek".
The game begins with Guybrush Threepwood and Elaine Marley returning to Mêlée Island from their honeymoon, which they embarked on in the epilogue of The Curse of Monkey Island. Here they find that Elaine has been declared officially dead, her position as governor has been revoked and her mansion is scheduled to be demolished. The governorship is up for election, and suddenly a person known as Charles L. Charles presents himself as the lead candidate. As Elaine begins her campaign to recover her position, Guybrush hires navigator Ingacius Cheese in a game of insult arm-wrestling, meets again with two of his old "friends", Carla and Otis, and heads out to Lucre Island to recover the Marley family heirlooms and obtain the legal documents to save her mansion. During his trip, Guybrush learns of the Marley family's greatest secret: a voodoo talisman known as the Ultimate Insult, which contains an insult so heinous, it destroys the spirit of those who hear it. He also winds up being framed for bank robbery by crook Peg-Nosed Pete at the hiring of the Australian land developer Ozzie Mandrill, but manages to prove his innocence.
After acquiring the legal deeds and returning to the manor, Guybrush and Elaine soon discover that Charles L. Charles is really the shape-shifting Demon Pirate LeChuck, having been freed from his ice prison of the last game and seeking the Ultimate Insult. As Elaine continues her campaign, Guybrush searches the Jambalaya and Knuttin Atoll islands and recovers the pieces of the Ultimate Insult. Upon returning home, he is ambushed by LeChuck and Ozzie Mandrill, who steal the pieces from him. The two villains are revealed to be working together, Ozzie to rid of all pirates and turn the area into a resort and LeChuck out of debt to Ozzie for freeing him from the icy tomb and to use the Ultimate Insult to break Elaine and marry her. Feeling they might need Guybrush as a hostage, the two decide to dump him on Monkey Island.
Despite temporary discouragement, Guybrush sets about making his escape. He learns the art of Monkey Kombat from the "monkey prince of Monkey Island" and, upon restoring the hermit Herman Toothrot's memory, discovers that the old man is actually Elaine's missing grandfather, having contracted amnesia twenty years prior due to being pushed into a whirlpool off the coast of Australia by Ozzie. After constructing an even bigger Ultimate Insult, Guybrush discovers that the colossal monkey head statue of the island hides a giant pilot-able monkey robot. He reactivates the Mecha and powers it and Herman and the island's monkeys join him in piloting it. With the robot, Guybrush manages to disable an Ultimate Insult amplifier made by Ozzie before returning to Mêlée. During this time, Ozzie has managed to capture Elaine and assemble the Ultimate Insult. When it appears to fail due to the lack of the amplifier, LeChuck takes matters into his own hands and possesses a statue of himself he had built shortly after his gubernatorial victory. Ozzie uses the Ultimate Insult to take control of LeChuck's statue form and engages Guybrush's monkey robot in Monkey Kombat. During the duel, Guybrush performs repeated ties, allowing Elaine to escape and causing LeChuck to smack his head in exasperation, crushing Ozzie and destroying the Ultimate Insult. LeChuck then explodes. Guybrush and Elaine are reunited and Grandpa Marley resumes being the governor of Mêlée Island, so that the couple can go back to being pirates.
The game was made with Sean Clark and Michael Stemmle as lead designers, both of whom worked on LucasArts' previous adventure titles Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and Sam & Max Hit the Road. Sean Clark also worked on Loom and The Dig. Escape uses a slightly improved version of the GrimE engine introduced by Grim Fandango. Compared to the rest of the series, the SCUMM scripting language was replaced by the Lua programming language (This is referenced in-game; the SCUMM Bar, which first appeared in The Secret of Monkey Island, has been replaced in Escape with the tropical-themed Lua Bar).
A new version of the iMUSE interactive music system incorporating MP3 compression, among other changes, was built and used for the game. Interactive programming of the music and ambiance streams in the iMUSE system was done by lead sound designer Larry the O. Escape's introductory music is identical to that of the third game, unlike the earlier sequels which featured newly composed remixes of the well-known Monkey Island theme. Clint Bajakian, who had previously been an additional composer on Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, acted as the game's main composer, with additional tracks by Michael Land (who had been the lead composer on the previous three Monkey Island games), Peter McConnell, Anna Karney, and Michael Lande (not to be confused with Michael Land).
The voice cast saw the return of Dominic Armato as Guybrush, Earl Boen as LeChuck, Leilani Jones Wilmore as the Voodoo Lady and Denny Delk as Murray. The only major voice not to return was Alexandra Boyd who voiced Elaine in the previous game. She was replaced by Charity James. Stan is also voiced by a different actor, Pat Fraley. Additionally, characters who had previously appeared in The Secret of Monkey Island such as Carla, Otis and Herman Toothrot, are heard with voice actors for the first time.
The game was also released on PlayStation 2 in 2001. Apart from obvious control differences, the PS2 version only varies by a slightly higher polygon count and use of less pre-rendered material. Escape is the third LucasArts adventure game to have a console release, following The Secret of Monkey Island for the Sega CD and Maniac Mansion for the NES.
According to Heinrich Lenhardt of PC Gamer US, "[I]f it wasn't for the sales figures in Germany, LucasArts probably wouldn't have bothered doing another Monkey Island" after The Curse of Monkey Island.
In 2008, Rogue Leaders: The Story of LucasArts reported that "the stateside reception [for Escape of Monkey Island] was disappointing, but retail response was buoyed by overseas interest and sales—particularly in Europe, where the demand for adventure games hadn't fallen as flat as it had in the United States." According to market research firm PC Data, Escape from Monkey Island's computer version sold 55,275 copies and earned $2 million in the United States by the end of 2000. The firm estimated its sales in the region at 32,576 units for 2001, and 9,168 for the first six months of 2002. Its jewel case SKU sold 11,061 copies in North America during 2003. In March 2003, LucasArts' Bill Tiller remarked, "I am not sure what EMI sold, but I think it had decent numbers on the PC. But the PSX2 numbers, I heard rumor of, were abysmal."
The game was met with a generally favorable reception. The gameplay received criticism for its interface and the difficulty of keyboard or joystick control as compared to mouse controls. The "Monkey Kombat" was also criticized, with the GameSpot review stating that "unfortunately Monkey Kombat may be the single biggest problem with Escape from Monkey Island". Another reviewer speculated that "Perhaps the designers figured that combining insult fighting, cute monkeys, and a Mortal Kombat spoof would work well, but it didn't."
PC Zone gave it 82% and called it "an enjoyable, professionally created and amiably funny game. It doesn't do anything startlingly new, but is still an essential title for the hordes of people who grew up playing adventures." Adventure Gamers gave it four stars out of five and called it "a quality adventure game even though the restyling of the old locations on Mêlée Island and Monkey Island is a bit of a mixed bag. The ending is long, satisfying and almost as disturbingly weird as the ending of LeChuck's Revenge (but without being such an anti-climax)." Playboy gave the PS2 version a score of 85% and said that it "captures aging Marx Brothers appeal, but does so with modern-day flair. From battles against undead cutthroats to talking skulls, voodoo women and Monkey Kombat mini-games, you'll never know what to expect next. Then again, provided it's good times that come to mind, you won't be far off the mark. So set a course for the local retailer ASAP, matey -- your ship's just come in." Maxim, however, gave the same version six out of ten and said, "If you’re keen on tasteless, tongue-in-cheek jokes, smooth sailing lies ahead."
CNET Gamecenter named Escape from Monkey Island the best adventure game of 2000. The editors wrote, "We can't imagine a better graphic adventure." It was also nominated in the publication's overall game of the year category, which went to The Sims. The editors of Computer Gaming World nominated Escape from Monkey Island as the best adventure game of 2000, although it lost to The Longest Journey. They wrote that Escape from Monkey Island is "a lot of fun and is strongly recommended to fans, but it's a few jokes and puzzles short of being a classic like the other games in the series." It was also a nominee for The Electric Playground's "Best Adventure Game for PC" award, but lost again to The Longest Journey. The editors of Computer Games Magazine nominated Escape from Monkey Island for their 2000 "Adventure Game of the Year" award.
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