Posts Tagged ‘Reality Glitch Online’

Reality Glitch Online 2nd Birthday!

November 1, 2011
Eurogamer Expo

A comically oversized character from the 80's, and Mario!

Reality Glitch Online

2nd Birthday!

Technically it was yesterday, October 31st, but in best blogging tradition I didn’t have time to mark this awesome occasion. *Note in diary – make more time*.

I hope everyone had an awesome Halloween, if you celebrate it of course, and if you don’t then I still hope you had an awesome time! Reality Glitch Online has made it to two years old, it celebrated its birthday by reaching just over 4000 hits this month (I have no idea if thats good) but considering its first month 2 years ago it barely reached 500 I’m going to say it’s a plus.

It’s been a good year for RGO, I’ve managed to blog almost every month, as well as go to a few actual events this past year as well, namely the Manga UK 20th Anniversary Party, London Film and Comic Con and the Eurogamer Expo 2011. Last year I listed a few tips on blogging, gathered from around the interweb and I am pleased to say I have put most of them into practice over the coming year. One of the more adventurous ones was to get out there and actually meet some people. Making connections and networking was one I’ve been trying to expand on since last year, mainly through events such as above, or on Twitter and Facebook, and since then I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some awesome people!

I’ve definitely got more than a few thanks to make to everyone who has supported me, the guys online who’ve helped make this blog better every year, especially the ones who read it :) I urge you to check out some of the sites listed in my blogroll on the side, and in particular the awesome sites listed below and many more I follow on twitter! Special thanks to my wife for proofreading my often terrible grammar (apparently I’m in love with commas) and spelling, she’s a star and Buzz Killington for his awesome contributions to the site!

Retro Collect

Red Parsley

Lemon Amiga

Retro Fusion

Old Game Reviewer

Next years wish list, Replay Expo in Blackpool, and definitely more Eurogamer. Christmas blog post has already been planned, when I’ve asked for suggestions for games to review this one has come up several times so it’ll finally be here this December! I’ll also be reporting from the SFX Weekender in February 2012.

A few of my favourite posts from the last year are listed below, mainly because the research side of it was so much fun, from watching old episodes of Bad Influence! to looking through all the Amiga magazines to find some of my favourite adverts!

Bad Influence

Hero Quest (Amiga)

Retro Adverts from Amiga Action

Monkey Island Halloween by Kenjiartworks on deviantArt

Retro Adverts from Amiga Action

March 30, 2011
Retro Adverts

Amiga Action

Amiga Action 33 June 92

This post will take a look back at some of those more persuasive pages (tucked in between the reviews, previews and cheats sections) in gaming magazines of old, otherwise known as adverts! As an adult (subject to debate) I generally find adverts these days to be tedious and I skip over them as quickly as possible, however, as a child there was nothing better than seeing a brightly coloured, eye-catching ad showing me a glimpse of the next upcoming game to be released. These ads had much more appeal and I certainly didn’t skip over them. I now look back on these ads with fondness, I would turn the page  and the ad would immediately catch my attention with the selection of bright colours, words and pictures (some in-game if you were lucky) and usually persuade me to buy it.

I’ve decided to take a look first at Amiga Action, not my favourite of the Amiga magazines but definitely a good one for a wide selection of ads. Below is a gallery of some of my favourites and hopefully will also stir some similar memories for other Amiga fans! I’m very much an artist at heart and the presentation of the ads really appeals to me to this day, I have the same nostalgic feeling for certain pieces of gaming box art as well. Hope you enjoy and let me know if you have any particular favourite adverts from back in the day, or favourite box art! A few of my favourites from below will always be the great art work on the Gobliiins ad, the distinct word art of Sensible Soccer and the more cartoony looks of Dizzy, Hagar and Parasol Stars.

Please also take a look at the Retro Collect post below who have put together a selection of advertisements from a range of retro gaming magazines!

Advertisements from Retro Game Magazines Part 1

Thanks to Retro Collect for being a constant source of retro awesomeness and inspiration, especially for this post, and to Amiga Magazine Rack for the advertisement scans.

Horace and the Spiders

March 9, 2011

Horace and the Spiders

Platform: ZX Spectrum 16K 

Release Date: 1983 

Publisher: Sinclair Research Ltd (UK)

Developer: Psion Software Ltd (William Tang)

Players:

Controls: Keyboard 

Genre: Platformer

The ZX Spectrum, I’ve played on the actual machine probably about a dozen times, and over twenty years ago (mostly Dizzy). After asking which games I should review next I was pleasantly surprised about the number of different platforms, games and genres people wanted to see again. A request for Horace made it past the line first so I immediately set about trying to find the game! Fortunately, this is a well-known, and therefore widely available ‘emulated’ game but I was unable to play it on the original system.

Horace and the Spiders is the 3rd game in the Horace series, following Hungry Horace and Horace goes Skiing. The last in the series was Horace to the Rescue. The plot is pretty simple (although some reviews back in the day penned it as complicated) Horace must negotiate his way through 3 treacherous levels. The first, up some hills whilst avoiding spiders. The second, swinging across a chasm on spider threads. The third and final show down, a platform level where Horace must defeat the remaining arachnids by creating holes in the web, luring the spiders into the holes to fix them and consequently jumping on them.

The game is very simple to finish, the graphics are neat and the game play isn’t actually bad, considering the length. Each level has its own distinct colours and design (Horace even changes colour) and challenges. The characters are clear and animated well, and even though I have no idea who or what Horace is, its a great leading character. 

It’s extrememly satisfying outwitting the spiders on the final level and jumping up and down on them. After playing for about 15 minutes though my attention drifted, so I decided to give the other Horace games a go. They are all pretty distinct in graphics and gameplay which makes this a fun series of games to play, I actually found Horace Goes Skiing really challenging (who puts a ski shop on the other side of the motorway) but fun once I actually got to do some skiing.

Reading some of the reviews its fascinating to see how good reviewers said it was, and they were right, at that time of course. Not that great in my opinion (watch out for the collision detection jumping over those spiders) and not the best in the Horace series (Horace goes Skiing ftw) but Horace and the Spiders was clearly a welcome addition to the series, it was fun to visit and to play.  

Please visit My Speccy for more information on the Horace games and on the Spectrum, as well as a chance to play the game!

For more information on Horace and the Spiders visit the World of Spectrum

Horace Series advert (Popular Computing Weekly, Issue 830915, p.29)  and Horace and the Spiders advert (Home Computing Weekly, Issue 20, p.41  from World of Spectrum

Stop making an egghibit of yourself… Treasure Island Dizzy

February 3, 2011

Treasure Island Dizzy

Genre: Puzzle/Platformer

Year: 1989

Publisher: Codemasters

Disks: 1

Music: Allister Brimble

Ah Treasure Island Dizzy, eggcellent game, you might even say… eggquisite? Ahem. I could crack plenty of those yolks but I eggpect I would lose those few loyal readers I have, and fear they would be poached from me to another blog. Right, all out of my system. Previously I reviewed Spellbound Dizzy, a game I actually don’t like that much, however I thought I’d take a look at the first Dizzy game I ever played, and made me into a long-term fan of the series. Treasure Island Dizzy was the first of the series to appear on the Amiga, but certainly not the worst by a long shot.

The graphics are cute and colourful (as expected) and by todays standards I could probably whip up similar looking sprites and backgrounds in Paint. However, this is one ofAlways good to be on top of things... the first things that attracted me to the game. The game starts with Dizzy trapped on an island, his only means of escape is to solve the usual array of puzzles as well as collect 30 gold coins to secure his passage off the island and to freedom. A simple scenario. The graphics are well drawn and look polished, despite the simple look of the backgrounds and characters. The puzzles are generally simple and follow a logical course, although can be frustrating at points if you leave certain items behind and have to move back and forth to get them.

The gameplay is challenging, not only do you have to solve all the puzzles, as well as collect all the coins, the challenge is more so as you have to complete the game with the single life you are granted at the start. No continues here and mistakes can be pretty deadly.

Snorkel, a valuable piece of kit...

However, because of this, there is pure satisfaction when completing this game as it is more than a trial at times. In this gamers opinion, the only downfall of this title is the music (let’s be honest, Dizzy games never really hit the mark with effective music? – begin debate…?)

The music was composed by Allister Brimble, who had worked on many other popular Amiga games including Alien Breed (1991) Mortal Kombat (1993) and Superfrog (1993), which all make great use of atmospheric and dramatic scores to bring the games to life, which is odd in this instance as I feel the music comes across as extremely (see – no egg joke) repetitive and just a little irritating in Treasure Island Dizzy. He also composed the music for other Dizzy titles such as Fantasy World Dizzy (1991) and Spellbound Dizzy (1992).

This is a gem of a game with some great and interesting puzzles, nasty traps and one particular nod to one of my all time favourite movies. Pleasant graphics and fun game play this isThis guy will take you for everything you've got, git...

by no means the best or greatest of Dizzy games on the Amiga but is certainly a classic and a great introduction to the series. The single life makes it a challenge and if you don’t like the music, turn it off! Simple.

One of the elements to Treasure Island Dizzy which can make the game very entertaining is the cheat codes (listed below), usually employed when I’ve forgotten a really obvious puzzle and then attempt to crash the game by taking Dizzy to areas of the game the developers didn’t intend you to go to.

Enter one of the following codes during game play to activate the corresponding cheat function.

Effect and  Code

Flight mode – icanfly 

Invincibility – eggsonlegs

High jumps – eggonaspring

Magazine Reviews:

Zero 5 Magazine (March 1990) gave Treasure Island Dizzy 78%

Amiga Longplay: Treasure Island Dizzy

Please go to the Yolkfolk.com for all your Dizzy needs and wants.

Treasure Island Dizzy has appeared in many other conversions, notably on the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS,  NES and the ZX Spectrum.

2010 in review!

January 3, 2011

Nice little email of stats from WordPress so I thought I’d share :)

 

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2010. That’s about 29 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 24 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 43 posts. There were 138 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 10mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was August 25th with 153 views. The most popular post that day was Amiga Classic Review: Superfrog.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, lemonamiga.com, forums.somethingawful.com, twitter.com, and universalextras.co.uk.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for bioshock, dan aykroyd, basil poledouris, jackie chan, and ray stantz.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Amiga Classic Review: Superfrog January 2010
5 comments

2

Amiga Classic Reviews: Golden Axe January 2010
1 comment

3

Bioshock February 2010
3 comments

4

Mid Week Mini: Frank Welker April 2010
1 comment

5

Arcade Classic Reviews: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles March 2010
4 comments

Great Scott!!!

October 31, 2010

Great Scott!!!

 

A short note and update in the world of Reality Glitch Online. Not only is this a year for some awesome anniversary’s (Mario and Back to the Future both celebrating 25 years) but it is a year ago today that I also started my blog.

My first post was on October 31st 2009 and was Dune II for the Amiga 500, follow the link to take a look!

Dune II Review (Amiga)

I still have the scribble sheet somewhere with a list of names and titles for the blog. Most of them involved the word retro somewhere along the line and the word gaming, however as I had no idea what I really wanted to write about I didn’t want to corner myself so early in the game!

Reality Glitch Online seemed to be nice and non-committal to any particular section of entertainment, allowing me to explore the usual array of games, movies, TV, theatre and of course retro gaming. Almost shortened it to RGO but thought I might get mistaken for RKO Pictures, silly me.

Still it’s been a great year, plenty to celebrate even in the face of adversity at some points, throughout I have stuck to one of my main goals and that was to keep this blog going. At the risk of this turning into a ‘Dear Diary’ moment, I started out with some bold goals (I think it was to post twice a week) amounting to 8 posts a month and 96 posts for the year, sadly I didn’t reach these dizzy heights of posting, but I’m hoping in this case it was quality over quantity!

Over the year I’ve managed to accumulate a larger back log of retro consoles and games, including a SNES and a NES (one was free, thank you Emma) and the other was £3 from a car boot sale. On top of this a menagerie of Amiga and Sega Mega Drive games, most of which also came from car boot sales, between 50p and £1 a game, you’ve really got to route through huge amounts of stuff to find those bargains.

Below are a few tips gathered from my own experience and from the interweb on blogging, in case anyone else is insane enough to start one:

1) Set aside time on a daily basis to write to improve style and voice. This could be as little as 30 minutes of writing or a single page.

2) Beat your self-doubt and inner critic. I have both and they often run rampant.

3) Connect with readers – I always see this as responding to comments, being open to feedback and tips and constructive criticism.

4) Promote your blog, double posting and spamming not advisable. Also promote and connect with others at least 3

Guybrush Threepwood

Happy Halloween :)

times a week.

5) Ask some questions on why you’re writing and what you’re writing. How will the reader react or benefit from reading your posts.

6) Avoid too many rants (unless of course that’s what your blog is about I guess) I prefer upbeat and helpful posts that leave me feeling informed and positive about something.

7) Develop your story telling ability and think about your writing voice – how the reader can hear you.

 

Most of all enjoy what you are writing, and set yourself realistic goals.

Thanks for reading and hopefully plenty more posts to come soon :)

Hope everyone is having a great weekend and Happy Halloween!

Movie Review: Highlander

March 8, 2010

I know what you’re thinking, Highlander? He has to be joking? I’m afraid not people, Highlander is indeed one of my all time favourite films (next to Ghostbusters) so if you are of a weak disposition regarding this awesome movie please turn to another blog post now.

First time I watched Highlander was in the early 90’s and I didn’t really understand it, so I watched it again. Still didn’t get it, so I left it alone for a long time. When I started University in 2001 I decided to give it another go, this time on DVD, it certainly looked shinier than I remember and, apart from a few inexcusable 80’s hairdo’s, still felt like a recent movie.

I also realised it’s a film I can watch over and over again, no matter what. Always makes a good candidate for a favourite movie, one you can just sit down and switch off to (no pun intended), one you can feel good about afterwards, even if you know it might seem an odd choice to other people.

Highlander has certainly had to put up with a lot of criticism over the years, criticism which is unfortunately justified. The first film isn’t without its flaws but is superior to its successors in every way, truly “there should have been only one” However the series has been all but destroyed by a series of the worst sequels ever.

Highlander was directed by Russell Mulcahy and penned by Gregory Widen and released in 1986. If you didn’t know already, the film follows the story of Conner Macleod (Christopher Lambert) of the clan Macleod. He was born in the year 1518 in the village of Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel and is discovered to be immortal after being severely wounded on the battlefield by the Kurgan (Clancy Brown) After being banished from his village Macleod is found by Ramirez (Sean Connery) another immortal who befriends Macleod in order to teach him about the gathering and train him in order to win the prize and defeat the Kurgan.

The film skips between flashbacks of Macleod’s life in Scotland in the 16th Century, through the ages and to New York City 1985. The immortals are preparing for the gathering where the final battle will be fought by the last two and the winner will receive the prize. The only way the immortals can die is by having their heads cut off so swords are an essential weapon, also meaning there’s a lot of walking around with very cleverly concealed swords inside long jackets.

The sword choreography is highly watchable and over the top making it action packed and fun to watch. These scenes work in the same way as a martial arts movie, desperately waiting for linking dialogue to be over to get to the good stuff. The story is well conceived and despite a few plot points well executed, it flows relatively well, and unless you’re me, the story is pretty easy to follow.

I love the characters and the mythology behind them (something that was ridiculed and destroyed in the sequel rather than expanded upon and developed) and feel that it really should have been a standalone film and even has a perfect ending for it. I think Christopher Lambert does a brilliant job in bringing Conner Macleod to life as an iconic character. Given that English wasn’t his first language does a pretty sterling job at a Scottish accent, and also explains his non specific accent in the 1985 parts of the movie. He gives the character depth and potential for more “prequel esque” follow ups to the movie.

Highlander takes it charm from Lamberts portrayal and the urge to know about his past rather than his future. I think film makers after the first film forgot there was 450 years of history to explore behind this character. Sean Connerys’ inability to pull any sort of passable foreign accent out of the language hat is pretty amusing in any of his films, whether he’s playing an Egyptian Spanish metallurgist, an Irish cop or a Russian submarine commander, he’ll always have that Scottish accent in all its glory, but this is what we expect from Connery and he still plays a memorable and interesting character. Clancy Brown is awesome as the Kurgan and I wish this guy was in more movies, he really steals the scenes and becomes more and more animated and villainous throughout the film up to the final battle with Macleod.

I could probably gush about this film for a hundred pages but don’t worry I’m not going to go on too much longer, I could go into the awesome Queen soundtrack or Michael Kamen score, but maybe in another post! I will however mention the blu-ray release of this film which inspired this review. The extras have remained more or less the same from the special edition release on DVD, however the picture is awesome. For a movie that’s 25 years old 99.9% of it looks and feels like it was filmed yesterday. Only one scene stands out as being as little crude, the high definition picture emphasises the use of special effects and if you look to the screen closely you can tell half the castle, the horses, hills and fields are a matte painting, not really noticeable on VHS or DVD. Considering this scene is about 3 seconds long you’re not really losing out on a great quality transfer for such an old film. Whereas film transfers to blu-ray such as Ghostbusters were a disappointment and in my opinion not worth buying the blu-ray for Highlander is well worth the purchase.

For more Highlander I would recommend the series from 1992 with Adrian Paul as Duncan Macleod which wasn’t too bad. I also like the 4th in the series of movies “Highlander: Endgame” which see’s Conner and Duncan crossing paths and tries to recapture some of the charm of the first film with flashbacks to Conners’ life in Scotland (although don’t expect too much continuity).

Great article and more in depth look at Highlander can be found here!

Clancy Brown fan website here!

Visit here for a Christopher Lambert fan website!

QueenPrinces of the Universe” music video!

Top 5 Platformers (Amiga)

March 1, 2010

Top 5 platform games on the

Amiga

It’s always difficult to name a top 5, especially when there are so many great games on the Amiga to choose from. I’ve based this small list on games I love to replay, whether on my Amiga or emulated. They also tap into deep rooted childhood memories and good times to match!

I will emphasise this list “is in my opinion” (ah, the wonders of a blog) as with any “top list” on any subject it will spark debate, which is a healthy thing anyway and hopefully some of you will put forward some of your top platformers for the Amiga as well! 

After playing through a few of my favourites, and ones I haven’t played before, my list grew substantially from the initial 5. However, as much as I’d love to waffle on these games will be hailed as an honourable mention and came close to making my list; Superfrog, Rodland, Rainbow Islands, Harlequin, Gods and Wolfchild. 

 Flashback 

Flashback is an immensely good game with great graphics and great cut scenes to move the game along in-between each level. It moves away from the usual “bouncy, jumpy” platformer and provides more of an RPG feel to it. The controls are smooth and really run well with the graphics. The intense music really sets the atmosphere for the whole game and the sound effects throughout set the tone nicely. Gameplay and appearance is similar in style to Another World but Flashback has a longer, and in my opinion better storyline (the puzzles are trickier but also follow a logical pattern). A great mix of action and puzzle solving Flashback is one I can play over and over again, even the courier jobs in level 2 aren’t all that bad. I love the intro sequence to this game and it sticks firmly in my memory to this day, the graphics blew me away and with the upbeat music felt like you were watching the intro to a movie. Good times.  

Amiga Computing 62 (Jul 1993) gave Flashback 94%  

The Great Giana Sisters  

Whichever way you like at the Great Giana Sisters people will always shout out something about Mario, but I remember first loading this up on my Amiga and being hooked right away (for an eight year old boy the title screen was fascinating in itself). I felt no need to sit there and think “this is just like that NES game” and so I played through without the hindrance of over analysis that seems to limit the mind once you’ve reached adulthood. I took it for what it was, the graphics were bright and colourful, the gameplay fun and easy going but still retained that challenging aspect to it (timing some jumps was essential). It’s certainly not the easiest game to complete and the 2 player option is just basically the same thing over again but you’ll want to make it to the end, just because. It’s also one of the few games on my Amiga I remember my sister playing (alongside Monster Business, Magic Serpent and Chips Challenge) and as far as I remember she was able to get much further through the game than I could… probably had more patience. An awesome game and worth revisiting, the music is pretty lively too.  

Article in AUI Vol. 2 No. 9 (Sep 1988) for The Great Giana Sisters
 
Turrican II  

As soon as I read or think of the name Turrican the same funky signature theme tune pops into my head and I instantly feel the need to load it up. Turrican is a fast paced platformer and one where it’s not wise to stop for too long, the amount of enemies on screen doesn’t slow the game down and you’ll always find you’re up against an enemy. The game has a great variety of weapons in order to help you take out bad guys in more ways than one; namely bounce, laser and multiple, (add in the extra morph-ball move) and you have everything you need to make it through the games 5 distinct worlds, each with its own great piece of music by Chris Huelsbeck. I love it for its intensity and non-stop gameplay, the graphics look clean and polished and I find its one of the more challenging platformers for the Amiga. On more than one occasion this game has grabbed my attention, and is one of the few times playing it became more important than being called down for dinner. Turrican II is certainly my favourite of the series but I do have a soft spot for Turrican III, mainly for the cool swingy gadget.  

CU Amiga (Feb 1992) review of Turrican II scored 94%  

Magic Pockets  

I played this because I saw it being played on Saturday morning TV (either Motormouth or Going Live!). Either way during the shows the contestant played the game either by shouting the controls down the phone or by using a touch tone phone. I loved the little character (Bitmap Kid) and the ‘cool’ (for the 90′s) animated intro sequence. BK had a unique way of taking out the bad guys, although it never made much sense why a snail would change into a candy cane after being engulfed by a whirlwind which came out someone’s pocket… crazy as that sounds when you write it down it makes sense in this awesome game. Another great from the Bitmap Brothers! The game is long enough to keep you amused for hours, until you turn to look at the clock and realise your late for school (you then get to school and remember it’s a Saturday) and feel like a complete ninny, but with the added bonus you can return home and carry on playing. The level designs are brilliant and the secret passages add an extra puzzle element to the gameplay. The game includes an impressive variety of bad guys and extra levels to keep you reaching into to your pockets for a long time to come… ooo er.  

Amiga Action 25 (Oct 1991) gave Magic Pockets 93%  

James Pond II: Robocod  

Who doesn’t want to save a bunch of hapless penguins at Christmas time from the evil yet brightly coloured clutches of James Ponds arch nemesis Dr. Maybe? It’s certainly one of the most memorable platformers for me as I was a huge fan of the James Bond movies (still am, natch) and the first Pond game. In order to defeat Dr. Maybe (who has taken over Santa’s workshop in the North Pole) Pond is equipped with a robotic suit which allows him to extend is body and grip onto very high platforms, and then shimmy along them past all manner of bad guys and deadly traps. Robocod is a great game and a welcome improvement on the gameplay of the first game (I found the underwater controls far too sensitive and the gameplay very repetitive). Robocod also introduces a series of vehicles for our hero to use adding another dimension to the game, these include a car, plane and um, a bathtub. The game looks and feels polished and is definitely the best in the series (the third game felt like a combination of the first and second without the cool robotic suit) and for all its colour and overly cute level designs the game is the most challenging, and in some places just a little bit sinister.  

Amiga Power 7 (Nov 1991) gave James Pond II: Robocod 87%  

Hope found this Top 5 enjoyable and informative, 2 awesome resource sites for everything Amiga can be found here at Amiga Magazine Rack and Lemon Amiga!  

I have also previosuly reviewed Superfrog! Check it out here!

The Secret of Monkey Island

November 8, 2009

The Secret of Monkey Island

  

Developer: Lucasfilm Games

Design: Ron Gilbert

Genre: Point n’ Click Adventure

Release date: 1990

 

“My name is Guybrush Threepwood, prepare to die! The immortal words of Guybrush Drinkwater, um, Thrinkwood, eh, never mind. Squinky, just call him Squinky.” 

This is probably one of the hardest reviews I’ve written on my blog. This game has so many fond memories attached to it I could waffle on for days. I believe that Ron Gilbert is the best thing to have happened to point n’ click adventures in the entire history of the genre. He designed and created a game I still enjoy playing through again and again, even 20 years later. It is hard to express how much I love this game, (without resorting to interpretive dance or something) and unfortunately can never do it justice. However below are just some of my thoughts and feelings on what I think is a classic game, first played on my Amiga in the early 90′s, eagerly swapping 4 disks over and over, and pretty much the same game still being played on my PC, through Steam. My original big boxed version for the Amiga sits proudly on my shelf o’ gaming as I write.

The Secret of Monkey Island can be seen as one of the greatest point and click adventures of its time, and possibly of all time (begin debate) It remains in the hearts and minds of all dedicated adventurers since the beginning of the classic pirate series from Lucas Arts, and more specifically Ron Gilbert, master of dialogue and design behind The Secret of Monkey Island. Guybrush’s adventures continue to this day, with some of the original team returning for the Tales of Monkey Island from Telltale Games. The Secret of Monkey Island is an adventure game that utilizes the command verb-based system SCUMM (Script Creation Utility of Maniac Mansion), the kind of point and click interface first introduced in Maniac Mansion and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The technology was used in all subsequent Lucas Arts adventure games, with the exception of Grim Fandango and Escape from Monkey Island. The branching dialogue system allows you to talk to characters in different ways without fearing a wrong choice, (if this was the not the case Guybrush’s’ further adventures could see him working down at the local fire station) after declaring to the pirate captains “I wanna be a fireman”. The game play itself revolves around inventory-based puzzles to solve. Items are picked up and saved in the players’ inventory until needed; they can be used with each other or with an object, place or character within the game.

Guybrush is the wannabe pirate hero of the adventure, our pony tailed protagonist doesn’t realise that his arrival on Melee Island couldn’t have come at a worse time as its inhabitants are being terrorised by the fearsome ghost pirate Le Chuck. To begin his dream of adventure on the high seas, drinking grog, swordplay, thievery, and eh, treasure huntery, Guybrush must seek the three grog swilling, foul-mouthed pirate captains who reside in the SCUMM bar, aptly named for the games interface system explained above. Guybrush must complete the three trials given to him by the pirate captains to succeed in becoming a pirate. With cracking dialogue, cut scenes and some very funny moments Guybrush’s adventure goes from wannabe pirate to captaining his own ship and crew in order to find his way to Monkey Island and rescue the woman he loves from the evil clutches of the ghost pirate Le Chuck!

Along the way Guybrush meets many other great characters; including Captain Smirk who trains Guybrush, used ship salesman Stan (this character also returns many times in other Monkey Island games, and excels in the second game as a used coffin salesman), Otis the prisoner, and most significantly, the love of his life, Governor Elaine Marley, who Guybrush meets whilst attempting to steal the idol of many hands (only because it belongs in a museum you understand…). However, Elaines ex, or Le Chuck as we like to call him decides to kidnap her and take her with his ghostly crew to the fabled Monkey Island. Le Chuck has been Guybrush’s nemesis throughout the Monkey Island series and is a great character, with plenty more villainous potential to return in further games, whether is be as ghost, zombie or human!

One of the most memorable of the three trials (for its longevity) is to defeat the island’s sword master Carla, an expert in the art of sword play and insults. A notable contributor to this very clever and funny part of the game was author Orson Scott Card. Orson wrote the insults and answers that the player has to collect by fighting stinking and bloodthirsty pirates on the road, and to  use the insults and answers collected to defeat the sword masters own unique brand of verbal abuse. This is also one of my personal favourites in the game, and even though I know when I have just enough replies to defeat the swordmaster, I will continue to fight and collect more. Other favourite parts of the game include the relatively short second part on the voyage to Monkey Island itself, the ‘self contained pirate sitcom’, whereby the mutinous crew reduce Guybrush to the highest and lowest rank on his own ship.

Gilberts dialogue throughout is funny and timeless, allowing new gamers who have not had the  pleasure of the Monkey Island experience before to appreciate the superior humour and the great characters in a new light, rather than focus on the outdated graphics and linear story line. However, with the recent release of the special editions on PC the graphics have been greatly improved with some fantastic character designs and background artwork, I highly recommend The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition as it looks great but has lost none of the originals great game play, humour and charm. 

A brilliant game and still one of my all time favorites, it all culminates into a timeless game with humour and characters that stick in the mind to this day, playable and simply one of Lucas Arts, (or more accurately Ron Gilberts) greatest point and click adventures, nothing yet in my opinion has beaten sword fight insults and the pirate ghost ship shuffle. For similar experiences in humour and game play see other classics like Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The Monkey Island sequels Curse of Monkey Island and Escape from Monkey Island tried to sustain the template set out by Ron Gilbert but are missing the subtle humour and charm of the first two games, and I think whole heartedly that Monkey Island 2: Le Chucks Revenge is a superior sequel, with an ending that can only be explained, or concluded (if he chooses), by Ron Gilbert. 

 

Monkey Island related business below… (Monkey Business)

Learn more about Ron Gilbert at his website Grumpy Gamer

Old but still interesting interview with Ron Gilbert over at The World of Monkey Island in 2007, plus includes plenty of other awesome Monkey Island info.

Amiga Power 2 (June 1991) review of The Secret of Monkey Island gave the game 90%

Amiga Format 23 (June 1991) review, gave it 92%

Having trouble wondering what the red herring is for? Not sure what to do with the cotton swab, eager to get a-head in navigating? Then check out the Amiga Longplay of The Secret of Monkey Island on Youtube below!


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