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Escape from Monkey Island

Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: LucasArts
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Escape from Monkey Island marks the end of the fully-2D world of the Monkey Island series, and its entrance into the 3D world. It works perfectly, at least graphically. Guybrush Threepwood still looks like a complete dork, and now he's an articulated, complete dork. The backgrounds are statically-rendered 3D backdrops, a la the recent Final Fantasy games. There are some annoying camera angle changes as you play the game, but it's nowhere near Resident Evil levels, and it's always manageable. The game is pretty, with simple colors and environments that have just enough clutter without being overdone. It's not mind-blowing, but it certainly gets the job done.

The sound in Escape on the other hand, is absolutely top-notch. The game sports the hands-down best voice acting in any game ever, and since every other line is some joke or another, you'll be laughing your tookus off as you play. Guybrush sounds exactly as he should, as does every other character, and it's wonderful to see a game that treats the voices as well as Monkey Island. The sound effects are good as well, but not to the level that the voice-acting is. A little cartoony, which certainly fits the world of Monkey Island, but in the end, merely above average instead of stellar.


As a game, Escape from Monkey Island is exactly what you've come to expect from the franchise. There are a lot of puzzles with off-the-wall solutions, getting more and more confusing as the game goes on; there's a whole lot of humor, including references to all of the previous games in the series; and there are lots of nifty items to play with. A control scheme that will end up driving you up the wall hinders the gameplay (although it's not just the control scheme's fault -- rooms have very arbitrary bounding points), and many of the puzzles are so lateral that they remind me of old-school text adventure epics, where you try everything on everything else until it works. But Escape is a solid adventure game that will please every fan of the genre.

You, as always, are Guybrush Threepwood, recently married to the governor of Melee Island, and just returning from the honeymoon. Upon arriving, you discover that your wife is dead (which is decidedly odd, considering she's with you) and that an Australian real estate developer is buying up everything in the region. Needless to say, plot ensues, with Guybrush getting shipped off, being accused for bank robbery, and getting thrown into jail all in the first few hours of gameplay.

The game itself is standard adventure fare. You control Guybrush with the keyboard or a joystick, moving him around the screen. He often doesn't go where you want him to, making positioning him to interact with something way more of a pain than it probably should be. But LucasArts games are forgiving, and you can always take your time and get it right. It's still a pain in the butt.

There's not much to be said about the gameplay that doesn't spoil the game itself, but you can expect all the inventory-juggling, brain-busting madness that comes with any good adventure game. And fans of the series will enjoy all of the in-jokes and references, although they're certainly not necessary to make the game enjoyable. Threepwood is made out to be a git from the, er, get-go, and his antics will always be amusing. The constant breaking of the fourth wall would be annoying in another series as well, but it just works here. When the dart player throws one at you and you see the glass break, it's funny instead of trite. And although the game does have it's lulls in comedic heights, it also has some very enjoyable highs.


The puzzles start out easy, but get relatively tough, quick. By the end of the game, non-veteran adventure gamers will be pulling out their hair. Veteran adventure gamers will too, but since they're used to the try-everything-on-everything approach, it's not as bad for them. Luckily, LucasArts packed in a quick walkthrough from Prima along with the game. Make sure you hide it when you don't really need it, and hide it again as soon as you get unstuck. It's welcome, though, because some of the puzzles in Escape are downright evil.

Game Mechanics:

As stated before, Escape from Monkey Island has its control issues, which can be highly irritating. It's also a bit of a change to go to a fully keyboard-driven interface instead of a point-and-click adventure, but after playing for a few hours, it becomes second nature. I had some issues with the inventory randomly moving around, and menu options doing the same thing, but that was a consequence of a plugged-in gamepad that's way too sensitive for its own good. The menus are easy to understand and operate, although I found it a little odd that the F1 key pulled it up instead of Escape.

While Escape from Monkey Island won't make an adventure gamer out of someone who doesn't like the style to begin with, and while it may frustrate newcomers to the genre (or force them to use the walkthrough, which is roughly the same), those who have been enjoying adventure games for a while can't go wrong with Escape. Funny, pretty, and enjoyable, it's a wonderful little romp through Threepwood's world. And those who've played the other games will be rewarded with even more little funnies. With an 'ook ook' here and a banana there, Escape from Monkey Island is as solid an offering in the genre as any this year, and considerably more solid than most.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

Win9x/ME/2000, Pentium 200MHz, 32MB RAM, 4MB 3D Accelerator (Direct3D or OpenGL), 16-bit Sound Card, 4x CD-ROM, keyboard

Test System:

AMD K6-III 450 running Windows 98, 256 MB RAM, 6x/24x DVD-ROM, Sound Blaster Live!, Creative Labs TNT2 Ultra w/ 32 MB RAM

Sega Dreamcast Dynamite Cop! Windows Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated