EG Retro: Escape From Monkey Island

Le Chuck's beard has never looked finer.

I’ve had enough of the downright prejudice against Escape From Monkey Island. When I originally reviewed it for PC Gamer in 2000, I recognised what a superb adventure game it was. And replaying it eleven years later, it remains every bit as funny, clever and well constructed. Yes, Monkey Kombat sucks beyond belief and was a stupid mistake. Yes, the camera was often poor. But the adventure game it’s all in? Well, in my Eurogamer retro, I say this:

“The humour is just wonderful. It’s certainly a damned sight funnier than the first and third games in the series, making me laugh out loud a remarkable number of times. It’s a game that understands the basics, such as: ducks are funny animals. And the complicated, like… okay – there’s nothing complicated. But there’s a lot that’s clever.”

I say “prejudice” for a reason. The reaction against EFMI smacks of it. I’ll cite the ludicrous claims that the revelations about Herman Toothrot have “ruined” the series. As if the Monkey Island games were pivoting around a bearded man with no memory. Rather, his was a lovely story, told in reverse as you unpick his memory until the eventual reveal. A lovely reveal that frees Elaine and Guybrush to continue going on adventures. Otherwise, regular characters play their regular roles, Le Chuck is lovingly celebrated as he switches between his three previous guises, the plot of Monkey 3 is rightly teased, and the relationship between Guybrush and Elaine is well presented for the first time ever. She is neither a nagging fishwife nor a useless damsel, but rather a funny, loving woman who is obviously smarter and more competent than her husband.

I’m rather bemused by those who rage that the game’s plot damaged the previous solemn fiction of this most important of universes, as if the the giant monkey head on Monkey Island was still being worshipped by some players (one EG commenter describes them as “sacred icons”, in case I’m accused of exaggeration), and the reveal of its purpose in Escape was a heresy such that fatwas must be issued. And I’ll admit to being downright smugly amused at all those who rail against the story’s inclusion of Starbuccaneers, the Lua Bar and Planet Threepwood as being examples of their pirate-n-voodoo world being ruined by these modern concepts. Ur.

It’s madness that people so passionately hate this game. It’s a great LucasArts adventure, and to deliberately reject one based on some inherited or imagined prejudices is ludicrous. As I argue at length, here.



  1. AndrewC says:

    I like Ewoks.

    • Arglebargle says:

      You are a sick, sick man. Or you’re lieing.

      Maybe both!

    • gwathdring says:

      They were the best part of all three movies when I was little. They were adorable and cuddly! Sorry. Second best. First was lightsabers.

      Sure they seem like crap in hindsight, but so does a lot of those movies.

    • Scatterbrainpaul says:


      Gold Bikini

    • Skystrider says:

      Would I go too far if I said I like Jar jar? :P

      Right, better not say that then. Still, I for one liked Escape from Monkey Island. No joke.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Lie with ewoks, wake up with Yub Nub.

    • Igor Hardy says:

      I can forgive Ewoks and Jar Jar in Star Wars, but there’s to much nonredeemable stuff in EMI.

  2. The Dark One says:

    It it doesn’t having a rhyming verse about an orange, I don’t want to play it.

  3. magnus says:

    Grrr, I won’t forget that for the whole week!

  4. Grape says:

    She is neither a nagging fishwife nor a useless damsel, but rather a funny, loving woman who is obviously smarter and more competent than her husband.

    Yeah! Because that’s not even remotely fucking clichéd or sexist at all!


    • gwathdring says:

      Competent, intelligent women in fiction do seem to be saddled disproportionately often with a love of problematically unintelligent or incompetent men. But I do believe the trope is harmless in the context of Monkey Island. She likes him for the same reasons the audience does. He’s a very likable guy.

      But, if you don’t think he’s especially likable or redeemable, than from that perspective I agree with you. Then it’s just as bad as those dreadful sticoms where a competent, intelligent, and attractive woman is married to a man who is not only the opposite of each trait above but ALSO uncharismatic and obnoxious. But at the same time … relationships like that do happen. And if games often portrayed it the other way: competent intelligent man married to incompetent unintelligent female … cultural context gets really nasty really fast.

      So I guess my point is: I agree with you on a matter of absolute principle but think the relative principle is more important in such matters and Monkey Island is just fine by me in that sense.

    • Bhazor says:

      Also did Walker just completely miss the second game? Elaine was superb in that.

    • Baboonanza says:

      My wife is obviously smarter and more competent than me, does that make our relationship a cliche?
      Anything to do with male/female relationships is a cliche at this point due to it being the favourite subject of much of humanity since before we bipedal. The best you can hope for is one of the lesser used cliche’s for the medium and in games realistic female characters are few and far between.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Sixth one down (‘Every Time’):

      link to

      Not that Guybrush and Elaine exactly share the dynamic depicted therein, but the trope, as Grape and gwathdring have discussed, is kinda well established. Also, like anyone should need to justify linking to Kate Beaton.

    • gwathdring says:


      Well put.

    • Groove says:

      No-one should need to justify linking to Kate Beaton.

    • John Walker says:

      I thought that people might say this when I wrote that. Then said it anyway. I completely agree that the incompetent husband and weary and wise wife has become one of the most tiresome clichés of them all. But two things: 1) This game came out 11 years ago, before that trope became so repulsive. 2) Guybrush was established as an idiot before he was with Elaine.

    • Berzee says:

      There’s also that whole him-saving-her-life-several-times thing, which some people might say makes up for a significant amount of incompetence.

      Being offset by an accursed ring, of course, complicates matters.

    • bill says:

      link to – it works!

    • Bhazor says:

      @ Bill

      Huh thats nothing. Professional grump Charlie Brooker married Konnie Huq who I’m pretty certain is a 14 year old girl. The lucky bitch.

  5. Orija says:

    I’m willing to forgive and forget if they reboot the series as a multiplayer fps title.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      I am willing to literally take an axe and kill everyone responsible for making it into a multiplayer FPS if they make it into a multiplayer FPS.

      Wait a minute, that isn’t even the worst scenario. What am I going to do if they make a Facebook exclusive game (and stop there)? What if they make it a GFWL exclusive!?! I guess I could track down their families, but that would be so much work. Ugh.

      Well Telltale have been pretty good at sticking to the genre, so I probably won’t have to resort to violence.

  6. Drake Sigar says:

    People hate this game? Oh. Err, well… screw them!

  7. Risingson says:

    Time will pass, and I’ll never undestand how you, John Walker, cannot understand the very classic and intelligent humor of the first three monkey entries, and why you praise so much the very dismayed, basic and childish humor of the fourth one. Though I agree: it is much better game that most people think. It lacks the perfect match of adventure film nods, classic storytelling, playful macabre jokes and flawless puzzle design of the previous three, but it is a good game anyway.

  8. TWeaK says:

    I certainly liked Escape, hell I didn’t even mind the Monkey Kombat so much, aside from the tediousness of working out the moves (oh, ok, I’ll admit it: I used a walkthrough for that).

    HOWEVER, Mr Walker, I will not have you slagging off my lovely Curse game and saying it wasn’t as funny! If you carry on like that you’re liable to get cooking oil poored on you while you’re out in the sun.

    • John Walker says:

      I didn’t say it’s not funny. I said it wasn’t as funny as 4.

    • JackShandy says:

      Digging Simulator 2011.

      The End.

      EDIT: Whoops ok. I think I might just leave this here.

    • Acorino says:

      Haven’t played Monkey Island 4 since it came out. I liked it very much back then despite the many ludicrous puzzles. Actually, I always was kinda disappointed with Monkey Island 3, but then also with 2. The first Monkey Island was a standard nothing seemed to come close to, except the fourth.
      And maybe for the wrong reasons. I think MI4 wallows a bit too much in the past of the series with constant references to previous parts, half the humour seems to stem from it, while the other half consists of pop culture references (like the Mortal Kombat parody). Then there are many, too many recurring characters, probably as many as the creators managed to force into the story.

      Generally, the puzzle design is abysmal. It’s fine at the very beginning, slightly cartoonish yet understandable. But later on the puzzles were just contrived. I mean the way you have to get in the bank. On the other hand, I always had a sweet spot for the puzzle in the swamp, probably the best part in the whole game!
      Nowadays I appreciate both MI2 and MI3 much more, with the former now being my favorite of the series. Never played Tales except a bit of the first episode. Never got a chuckle out of me, so I stopped right there.
      I’m not sure I want to revisit MI4. I fear I might not like it. It has its strengths, but the problems with sequels is that they have to build on a foundation laid down by the previous parts. And I don’t think MI4 managed to follow in the footsteps.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Pirates are being rehabilitated, grog-selling venues are vanishing, and novelty gift shops are appearing everywhere. The very pirate way of life is being threatened in the face of capitalism and corporations.

      This is one of the main reasons I didn’t find EMI as funny most of the time as the previous episodes. From the start, one of the main roots of humour in Monkey Island was the ludicrous combination of pirate and commercial tropes:

      A treasure hunt, where you dig up a T-shirt labelled “I found the legendary lost treasure of Mêlée Island™ and all I got was this lousy T-shirt”. Pirate ships, being sold by a stereotypical used-car-salesman type, offering you all sorts of unwanted accessories. Grog, the drink of choice of pirates, is available from a vending machine.

      Trying to turn this into a source of dramatic conflict makes it less funny. It becomes the source of tension in the game’s plot, rather than a source of incongruity in its humour. It just doesn’t work.

    • gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

      Four was OK. Three was far better. The characterization, the puzzles, the ship combat… far better than 4. MI4 was just hit or miss, whereas 3 was hit, hit, and hit.

  9. Bhazor says:

    Monkey Kombat. Screw you Escape From Monkey Island. I spent four hours mapping out every damn combination of moves for that.

    • gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

      Agreed. It was horrid. The ship battle mechanics from MI3 put it to shame. Plus had insult fighting combined!

  10. Text_Fish says:

    I’ll give it another go.

    But by god, if you’re wrong …

    … well, nothing really, I’ll just go on with life as I had been.

  11. P7uen says:

    Grim Fandango.

    That is all.

  12. gwathdring says:

    Anyone know how I can get my hands on a copy of Monkey Island 3?

  13. Dreamhacker says:

    I thought MI3 did the humor better and Grim Fandango did the 3D better, thus it stands as the weakest of LucasArts late 90’s to early 00’s creations.

  14. Groove says:

    The problem with Escape is the lack of atmosphere.

    The piles of shops with slightly altered names weren’t funny then and haven’t improved since, but they took up huge swathes of screen real estate. I cringed every time I went past a Starbuccanears, and you saw the damnable thing every time you walked through town.

    It would be better if the problem was exclusive to them, but it’s endemic. Every screen is filled with…nothing. Oh look, that’s a wall, and that’s the ground! And there’s a person, and one item for me to click on. Go around the corner….and it’s a differently coloured wall! And more dirt! The first game is the only other one to use so much space to display so little, while the second is a masterclass: the carpenter’s hut; the junk shop; the festival; just about everywhere. Even the second game’s prison has more objects than most of the fourth game’s screens.

    Oh, and the reason Grim stands up while being similarly empty, is because it was awesome. It was a masterclass in atmosphere. In Escape I’d be bored before I’d crossed the screen (at the start, with the catapult?), in Grim I’d stand around just to take the whole world in.

    Also, better than Curse? Really? Sad panda.

  15. Spacewalk says:

    Not for all the leather jackets in the world.

  16. Vandelay says:

    Curse was the first Monkey Island I played and I’m equally bemused by the hate that receives as you are for the hate Escape gets.

    Escape was the second one I played and also enjoyed it very much, despite what others may think. The thought of Monkey Kombat has always put me off replaying the game. Still, I enjoyed pretty much everything else about it. I guess not having the affection for the past games helps a lot, as a lot of the complaints seem to be about depiction of certain characters and shifts in humour. Having now played the earlier ones, the humour of Escape does seem closer to Sam & Max, which could have put people off, if they were expecting more of the same.

  17. Lars Westergren says:

    I only played an hour or so before giving up on it, but I think my greatest turn off was this:

    The first (two) games had lots of winking anachronisms like Stan, but it still felt like a (admittedly silly) 18th century Caribbean world to me, where pirates got hanged and left to rot on gibbets, and voodoo was real and a little bit scary. The music was sometimes cheerful, but sometimes mournful or eerie in all its 8-bit simplicity, like when you enter the graveyard in Le Chuck’s Revenge.

    In this game, the jokes and the plot seemed to revolve around Starbucks, gentrification, SUVs, etc. When you get out of the first house, it looks like you’ve stepped out of a big modern Americana house into a suburb, there were no nature to be found. Everything “pirate” or “carribean” felt so paper thin and forced in, into something that was busy parodying “oh this silly life of ours in late 20th century California”. It all felt plastic, cheerful, and American. This plastic feel certainly wasn’t helped by the terrible 3D graphics.

    Though I like the newer Monkey Island Adventures from Telltale a lot, this is something that still bothers me with them. I miss the few moments of “darkness” or gallows humor. It’s only bright and cheerful now, all the time.

    • ynamite says:


      The tone of the game changed dramatically and as many have said before me, I was bored after 15 minutes of play. The humour was different, the setting was different (and very strange), the controls were different and it simply didn’t feel like MI.

      I was looking forward to MI4, honestly I was, I’m a huge fan of the series but I’ve never felt so let down by a game or more specifically a sequel. Maybe my expectations were too high, I don’t know, it just didn’t click (pun intended). To me, MI4 marked the end of MI as I knew it and I haven’t touched the series since. I couldn’t get past the beginning of Tales either, just didn’t feel it.

      What is a much bigger mystery for me is how anybody could not like MI3. That is one of the most atmospheric, charming and superbly executed adventure games on every level. The music, the voices and effects, the art style, the puzzles, the story (not the best but certainly very well done). Just pure gold. My favorite MI game right after LeChucks Revenge.

  18. AmateurScience says:

    You may call me MURRAY!

  19. vanilla bear says:

    It wasn’t very good as I recall because it annhilated the vaguely more serious and darker tones found in the first couple of games. The same reason that the first Pirates of the Caribbean was good and the later ones not so much.

    Curse was good because although it changed the tone of the games it was funny and nicely animated. Escape had its moments, but far too many of its gags were the product of the writers sitting around and asking each other “Arr, what be a pirate’s favourite coffee shop? StAARRRbucanneers” – sacrificing the atmosphere to weak gags. And its art direction and controls went up the swanny.

    PS Do a retrospective of Discworld Noir

    • gwathdring says:

      Whoa. Holdup. There was a Discworld PC game? With a Noir aesthetic? Is it as good as that sounds?

    • Schadenfreude says:

      It’s really excellent. You use clues written in your notebook as you would inventory items in other games (Though you still have an inventory) so it leads to some really nice puzzles.

    • vanilla bear says:

      Certainly there was!

      link to

      I played it late, but I thought it was rather good – then I went looking for reviews and found that PCGamer had given it something like 70%. It’s so full of film noir references that I was aware that I wasn’t getting some of them, which is part of what makes the Discworld books great, it had some really good dialogue (lots written by Pratchett), the 3D that was new to the series works reasonably well (unlike EfMI) and the clue/dialogue system was innovative and also worked well. And Lewton was voiced by Rob Brydon.

      It was quite long I think though and the plot began to lumber at the end.

    • D3xter says:

      It was pretty enjoyable, not as great as it could’ve been though but well worth playing:

    • Bhazor says:

      It basically had the same interface as LA Noire’s notebook. To the point that I honestly think the name may have been a homage to the Discworld game.

      It really is excellent.

      “I’d had some bad days but I’d never woken up dead before,”

    • John Walker says:

      @vanilla – I’ve already pitched it.

    • Keep says:

      Another thumbs up for Discworld Noir. The notebook was great, I’m a big fan of trying to express your reasoning within the framework of the game.

      A little bit clunky at times? But worth it I think.

    • DainIronfoot says:

      The only bizzare thing about Noir is how it doesn’t seem to be part of Discworld canon when it is chock full of funny ideas.

      I have to wonder why Discworld computer games have fallen off.. Discworld is still hugely popular.. sure you’re never going to be able to match the early days when you could have games with Eric Idle, Rob Brydon, Jon Pertwee and Tony Robinson in. But Noir worked really well in telling its own story in the universe. Better than the original game which was just the plot of Guards! Guards! with the watch replaced by Rincewind..

      Mind you, I’d certainly play an adventure game where you played as the watch. Police procedural in a fantasy city is always good.

    • Red_Avatar says:

      Very true: it’s a good example of how easily people forget how important ambience and setting is. The game aspects of the game are just half of what makes a great game. Look at all the classics: Deus Ex, Sam & Max, System Shock, Syndicate, etc. etc. they all dripped with atmosphere and MI4 felt wrong. The 3D controls were horrible, the graphics lacked charisma, the game felt off. Grim Fandango was a big hit BECAUSE of its amazing atmosphere and it did it a million times better than MI4 which did it wrong in so many ways.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Discword Noir is also an excellent example of an adventure game gaining a 3D protagonist but keeping a walk-to cursor. It’s not a damn shooter; I don’t want to have to steer the character about to do things.

      And it’s bloody, bloody, bloody excellent. Pratchett’s writing with voicework by the likes of Rob Brydon, Robert Llewellyn, and Nigel Planer? Good puzzle design thanks to the notebook system? Plot twists which are actually unexpected? It’s one of the finest adventures ever made, and belongs up there with Grim Fandango.

      Speaking of Llewellyn and adventure game voicework, The Feeble Files needs more love.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      The Feeble Files definitely needs more love. I’d never heard of it until it appeared on GOG. I bought it there on spec, and found it to be really funny. It’s got some crappy puzzles (what adventure game doesn’t?) but the wonderful satirical humour smoothed over all that.

    • Sunjammer says:

      Noir was the best Discworld game by miles. I wrote my own retrospective a while back. Shameless plug.
      link to

      Also, Monkey 4 is a steaming pile.

  20. Thirith says:

    I never felt any urge to replay Escape, whereas I’ve replayed all of the other Monkey Island games before it. My main beef with the game is that so many of the jokes feel less like actual jokes than like call-outs to the earlier games. “Remember when we made this joke last time? Wasn’t it funny back then?”

    Nothing can beat LeChuck’s Revenge anyway in my opinion – I still love how that one mixes silliness and darkness and pulls it off brilliantly.

  21. Premium User Badge

    Gassalasca says:

    Finally someone who agrees with me. *

    *The only other person I can think of is the guy who reviewed it in a local games magazine all those years ago. He was pretty much of the same opinion as John.

  22. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Monkey Island only had two games in the series, any true fan can tell you that =/

  23. D3xter says:

    Eh I played Monkey 2 first back in the day, then Curse of Monkey Island and then Escape.
    I’m still unsure about whether I like Monkey 2 or Monkey 3 better. The first time I played Monkey 1 through in its entirety was the Special Edition that was released a while ago.

    Escape was just missing the charm of some of the games I played previously, it kind of had parts that “tried too hard” as far as I can remember (it is a good few years back since I last played it)… for instance I still remember a scene where Guybrush ends up at a beach and has to interact with some wannabe movie-stars and whatnot that did strike me not particularly well at that time.

    Also, it was one of those games that fell victim to the “We have to make our games 3D guys because there’s a 3 in it and it’s mathematically proven that 3 > 2, so 3D is always better than 2D.” phenomenon which a lot of games also fell prey to before “3D” was ready … say Earthworm Jim 3D, Simon the Sorcerer 3D and a large part of the Adventure genre in general and suffered under bad models, environment/art design and just plain bad movement and camera control. Grim Fandango being a pleasant exception to the rule and much, much, much better than Escape anyway.

    That said, I always enjoyed Simon the Sorcerer a lot more than Monkey Island myself, there I said it xD

  24. Igor Hardy says:

    I agree with most other comments. I booted EMI up again 2 years ago, with some desperate idea that maybe, just maybe, it’s better than I remembered. No such luck, its awful sense of humor instantly repelled me 2 meters across the room.

    And once again EMI’s Elaine made me sick with her endless patronizing.

    There are 2 worthwhile things in the game though – the music and the puzzles. They are the reasons why I finished it at all.

  25. JackShandy says:

    Look, I played Curse of Monkey Island when I was 7. It blew my mind halfway to kansas, and by the time I’d got it back I was salivating over Escape from Monkey Island. I slaved away to earn the pennies, played it through, and felt – empty.

    It was the atmosphere. As a kid, I didn’t give a shit about the jokes – I didn’t get them. What I got was the art and the characters and the smoke-n-voodoo atmosphere of Curse. Setting off a volcano with a sacrifice, rowing to Skull Island, battling through a jungle full of Snakes and Quicksand to reach a hidden pirate cove – these are things that swelled my little soul to bursting.

    Escape probably has some very clever cultural references, but it set them in a sunny, tourist-trap carribean. There was nothing for me to grasp. I must’ve honestly played Curse through 20 times, but I never went back to Escape. After reading this retro, though, I might try to dig it out.

  26. Red_Avatar says:

    *darn reply system borked*

  27. edit says:

    There was plenty to enjoy there, but… Monkey Kombat? The earlier games created a credible enough sense of reality and atmosphere that strange, magical or funny events had impact as strange, magical or funny against the backdrop of that reality. Giant robots pretty much killed that sense of reality for me. The Monkey Island series was, at one point, my favourite and most obsessed over series of games, yet I’m another person who only played through Escape once. I started a second play-through some years later but lost the drive to push through it. I couldn’t count the number of times I played the earlier titles. I do feel like I should revisit it some time, though. Maybe when Residual supports it..

  28. DainIronfoot says:

    Gosh, I’m agreeing with John Walker about an adventure game that isn’t TLJ.

    I have to agree that the amount of hate the game gets is unwarranted. Yes it has some really annoying puzzles (getting the correct free sample from the prosthetics shop, ugh) but it also has some bloody clever ones (time swamp). Monkey kombat is horrible, and every time I’ve tried to replay the game, my heart has died within me when I know I’ve got to start doing the MK sections, and I’ve stopped. The first time I played it, I had my grandad sitting there with a great big list of all the combos and counters we needed.

    But in terms of plot and characters I liked it! I liked going back to Melee and Monkey island and meeting the characters from the first game again.
    Some might call it being overly nostalgic or being overly self referential, but the series was old enough at that point to do that in my opinion.. anyway, it’d been several sequels since the first.. surely a game is allowed to pick up old plot threads?

  29. HermitUK says:

    Plot spoilers ahead!

    Most of my irritation with EMI is plot related. The main story is fine, and I enjoyed the game, but for a fan of the whole series (Had SMI back on the Amiga when I was a wee five year old, and I can still remember every single puzzle solution, I’ve played it that many times), EMI is a disappointment. The writers didn’t pay enough attention to the series continuity. Or worse, they decided it didn’t matter. You dismiss them like they’re unimportant, but they’re not. What’s more, they turn up in the last third of the game. Everything falling apart a bit at the end is such a shame, because then the lasting impression is that late game nonsense, rather than the much better island hopping of the earlier acts.

    1. Herman Toothrot and HT Marley being one and the same makes little sense. Toothrot’s story in SMI was fairly simple – sailed to find Monkey Island with a friend and got stuck there. Likewise, HT Marley’s story from MI2 and MI3 made sense – Found Monkey Island and Big Whoop, his crew hid their map in four parts, and then LeChuck killed/tried to kill him during a boat race. Then MI4 wanders in and attempts to mash those two storylines into one. The result is awful. See link to for the sort of convoluted nonsense required to explain this. It’s worse because Toothrot’s always been one of my favourite characters from the series, and MI4 performs a character assassination. It’s just about explainable, but there’s no need for it – you could easily have introduced Marley as an entirely new character and left Toothrot alone. Would have been less confusing in the end. You can argue it’s a ‘lovely story’ but I expect a lot of people’s reaction was “That doesn’t work” rather than “Aww” when the reveal kicked in.

    2. Giant Robotic Monkey Head. I mean, really? So Big Whoop, the very gates of Hell, have just vanished entirely. And now there’s a MechaChimp instead. And the game even has the audacity to call it “the Real Secret of Monkey Island” in the cutscene where it activates. Now, I know we’re not finding out the actual secret since Gilbert’s moved on to other things, but if after 4 games your answer is “The Secret of Monkey Island is a Giant Mechanical Monkey With Which You Can Play an Irritating Fighting Game”, you’ve done something very, very wrong.
    It’s a shame because I really like the first 2/3 of the game. It gets a good mix of old and new characters, some great new locations and a lot of genuinely funny humour.
    And then you reach Monkey Island and the game just gives up. It’s a shame.

  30. Deano2099 says:

    My issue with the game was what John states as a plus in his fifth paragraph: all the characters are there. Except, until Monkey 4, Guybrush, Elaine, LeChuck and Stan were the only regular characters. Escape basically contrived to get as many of the old characters back as it could. And re-use as many locations from previous games as possible…

    It had one joke – the commercialisation thing – and everything else was just a reference to the previous games. Which was fun for the first hour or so, seeing those old characters back again, but after that… it was like the latter seasons of The Fast Show or Little Britain. Just re-doing the same jokes that had been done before with the smallest of twists, hoping you’ll laugh as you’ll remember how funny it was the first time.

    It felt like a fan-tribute to the first three games, which is fine, but people expected a lot more.

  31. MikoSquiz says:

    Oh, Escape isn’t awful. It’s at least half as good as Curse, which was almost half as good as Revenge of LeChuck. That still makes it acceptable to middling, and marginally better than the Telltale version.

    Really, it’s just a question of subtle differences of mood and tone. Sure, the original had a Grog vending machine, red with a white swishy stripe, but Starbuccaneers and especially Planet Threepwood take it much further into the realm of ephemeral pop culture reference, too close to the gravity well of the Scary Movie black hole.

    And even back in 16-color EGA days, the visuals of Monkey Island have always been evocative and storybook-like, even if Curse lost some of the gloom and richness and went lighter and fluffier. While Escape had more light and shade again, they inexplicably went with 3D before 3D was up to snuff, and ended up with something that looks like a bumhole with a disease compared to even that 16-color original. With Monkey Island, the graphics and the music have always mattered as much as the writing.

  32. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    I played this for the PS2 and didn’t find the controls to be the worst ever. I also agree that it’s the funniest game in the series (Guybrush’s outbursts at the pirate reeducation school being the standout moment to me). I also agree that the complaint about “modern influences” holds little water when you stop to think about the vending machines, neon signs, and ubiquitous used car salesman which appear in every installment.

    However, much of the music is recycled wholesale from Curse. To be fair, Curse has one of the all-time great game soundtracks, but it smacks of laziness or fear of comparison.

    Also, who’s Spanky?

    • HermitUK says:

      I still think the ‘modern influences’ aspect the game takes on is one of its strongest plot threads. Echoing the decline of piracy in the 18th century while putting a much more modern spin on it with the idea of encroaching commercialism. It’s clever, and perhaps under-appreciated because of the humour of the modern references.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I hadn’t thought of it that way, but you make a good point.

    • HermitUK says:

      Indeed, which makes it all the more of a shame when you reach Monkey Island and that’s all jettisoned out the window.

      Hell, MI would be a potential goldmine for Ozzy. I’d have expected him to want a luxury coastal resort built on the the most famous island in the Caribbean. But no, we got Monkey Noises and that bizzare Religious Volcano Log Flume instead. Sigh.

  33. Bob_Bobson says:

    This. I hated the controls enough to never get too far in the game. When walking around is slow and frustrating in a game I get into a bored mood, which limits the impact jokes might otherwise have had, and I get extremely critical of the backdrops that seem to be padding to the miserable business of moving around. I didn’t go into it with any prejudice (or indeed with reading any reviews or such, there was no way I wasn’t going to buy MI4 so I dodged anything that might spoiler anything at all), although I guess I had the prejudiced idea that monkey island games are fun when I started.

  34. Reddin says:

    The only problem I had with it is that it kept crashing at the Monkey Kombat bit, so I never got to finish it.

  35. int says:


    The only Monkey Island I never finished.

  36. Scandalon says:

    “Oh, the water is hotter than a flame-broiled otter and my feet are sticking to the fiber-glass floor!”

    “That pig shaped bush frightens and confuses me.”

    Guybrush – “See you later!” Blind Guy – “That makes one of us.”

    C’mon, how can you not laugh at that?!?

  37. Soram00 says:

    EFMI was a terrible, terrible stain on an otherwise good series of games.