Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Secret of Monkey Island Nostalgia

The bf had been in a bit of a gaming slump lately, relating to the fact that he is a massive (and I mean super massive) Dark Souls fan but lacks the means in which to play the third installment. His computer is not good enough simply, and the PS4 version wasn't worthy apparently (DS is to be enjoyed only on the highest of settings, or something like that). So anyway, as it had started to bother me to see him fall into his usual rut of watching yet another clip from some DBZ episode for the 500th time, I started suggesting games for him. Pretty much anything retro, as other than DS the bf isn't particularly interested in modern gaming. Even then he shunned all of my suggestions, because he is a very, very picky man. Nothing was good enough. Then, for some reason, his interest seemed piqued with Secret of Monkey Island. In a way it made sense, he has some small interest in point and click adventure games and had previously played Grim Fandango (which he didn't like) and Day of the Tentacle (which he thought was ok). So Secret of Monkey Island should be a good idea then, seeing as it is a classic in the genre. I was thrilled. I am a big fan of SoMI and was looking forward to seeing the bfs reaction to it. I should have known better.

Those new graphics though... *shudder*

As he started playing it, and I had told him that for the love of all that is holy to play it with the original graphical settings rather than the remade ones, I pretty soon noticed that something was amiss. He was clicking around, doing the things, trying to half-heartedly solve the puzzles, meeting all the funny and whacky characters that inhabit Melee Island and just so obviously, clear as day, not feeling it. What?! He didn't enjoy SoMI? How is that even possible?

True enough, eventhough he did complete it, he proclaimed he didn't understand what the "fuzz" was all about. I didn't know what to say. How do you explain the "fuzz" about Monkey Island? It's just there!

The "combat" suited my pacifist child-self perfectly.

Like I said, I love SoMI. I don't remember when or where I first played it and I probably didn't get very far that time as I probably was quite young. But I have replayed it a couple of times since and also some of the sequels (possibly even all the sequels come to think of it, yes even the Tales of Monkey Island one) and it holds a very fuzzy (!), warm spot in my heart. I fell in love with that perpetually dusked island way back and it's always been one of my favorite examples of a game with a very good "feeling". The mood of the game is just right and even through the crude but beautiful pixels it manages to instill the sense of being an actual place with actual (albeit a bit crazy) people (and monsters). I believed in Monkey Island. Somehow it's like an actual place to me without actually feeling like a real place, but I know that probably makes no sense. And whenever I think of it I think of it more of a place to revisit than a game to replay. Maybe like a really vivid dream? I don't know very many games that give me this feeling, World of Warcraft used to be that but has with its many new expansions that I haven't taken part in lost some of that nostalgia for me. Thief definitely gave me some of that feeling, but was a bit too creepy and stressful to give me a pure happy sensation (still love that game though). Some old movies can give me that feeling, movies you watched a hundred times as a kid and you wished really existed.


I'm not even sure I would have patience with most of the puzzles in SoMI nowadays (and eventhough you'd think I remember most of them, that is never the case). Actually, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't. But of course it's not about the puzzles, the puzzles are just the reason to introduce you to settings and people that will stick in your memory. To me Monkey Island was always just the island. Sure there is the troll by the bridge, the circus guys, the red herring, the dogs, the guy in that store who walks all the way to the Sword Master over and over... But somehow what really stuck in my memory was just being on that island, on that endless night where everything was nice and calm and I could just chill out.


  1. I can honestly say I've no idea this game was so popular. I remember being fascinated with the Ultima series and some other games that are of the same era (I believe there were plenty of flight simulators that captured my fancy back then), but I'd no idea that Monkey Island and the Indiana Jones games were as popular as they were.

    1. It's funny you would say that, you're definitely not alone because not that long ago someone made a post in a Video Game FB group I'm in about this game she loved to bits. She wasn't sure if anyone had heard of it, it was The Secret of Monkey Island. She got swamped in comments basically all say "umm, that is pretty much a classic for PC gaming". I've got to admit I get pretty shocked too when people don't really know of this game, but it really comes down to interests and especially back then when you didn't have forums and stuff to talk about these things.