The Secret of Monkey Island
Guybrush Threepwood's first run-in with LeChuck and a Lucasfilm Games homerun

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date published: 9.15.23
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I’ve always been enamored with pirate history. Swashbuckling, deck swabbing, swill drinking pirates. They braved the high seas together with their crew of outlaws and took what wasn’t (necessarily) theirs. Edward Teach, William Kidd, Anne Bonny, Mary Read & John Rackham (to name a few). I read their stories when I was a kid and dreamed of what their life must have been like. Sailing the high seas for days, weeks, months at a time. Did they actually enjoy sailing? Or was piracy just a way to make a quick ‘piece of eight’? Luckily, Game Club played a game that gave me some more insight into what my favorite pirates what have been like in real life - a game by the name of

The Secret of Monkey Island is a legendary point-and-click adventure game by LucasFilm Games. Monkey Island had a few people on its development team that would soon be seen as luminaries in the industry. One notable name that worked on the game is ‘Tim Schafer’, who has since created and led Double Fine Productions (Psychonauts, The Cave, Brütal Legend).

In The Secret of Monkey Island, you play as wannabe-pirate ‘Guybrush Threepwood’ as he tries his hardest to become a real swashbuckling corsair. Guybrush travels around pirate-infested Mêlée Island speaking with pirate leaders and solving puzzles. There is no real danger in the game, it is just about exploration and critical thinking. Along the way however, Guybrush will get into sword fights, run into ghosts, anger island natives, and more.

Guybrush in a cave

It is VERY difficult to make a video game funny. Many have tried and failed miserably. I say this because the developers of The Secret of Monkey Island succeeded in this mission and most of the comedy they wrote still holds up 30+ years later. That alone is an incredible feat, but on top of that, they also created a world-class adventure game and began a series that would span 32 years (maybe more). This game had me laughing out loud at some of the jokes it has. One in particular is when the a pirate tries to drown Guybrush, but after he sinks to the bottom of the ocean, the player can just calmly walk around on the ocean floor and climb a ladder to get back on land because there is hardly threat of death or game over. As I am reading about this part of the game, I guess you are given 10 minutes underwater and THEN Guybrush actually can die. Still, that’s… A very generous amount of time.

Pirate ship on the ocean

I hardly played any point-and-click adventure games when I was a kid, because my family never really had a great computer. Because of this, I have very little experience with the genre, no nostalgia for it, and I find all the clicking to be a little cumbersome. That said, I am so glad Game Club decided to play this game, because I probably would never have played it otherwise. Even though the gameplay might not be my favorite, all the laughs alone kept me moving through this game and having a great time. Not to mention the great visuals from 1990 aging like fine wine.

I do need to dock a few points from the game, however. There’s a lot going on on Mêlée Island and sometimes the next step in Guybrush’s journey isn’t quite spelled out as clearly as I would like it to be. This sort of issue comes with the territory of point-and-click adventure games, but I think it is something that could have been improved in The Secret of Monkey Island. One other issue I had with the game was very specific. To defeat an enemy, Guybrush has to gather a repertoire of insults and to do this, the player has to encounter on Mêlée Island and glean insults off of them. It feels almost like grinding in a JRPG, but much worse. Like I said - I haven’t played too many games in this genre, but none of the ones I have played made me grind. Unfortunately I had to exchange insults with wayyyy too many pirates for my liking in order to progress the story and it really put a damper on things for a while.

Concept art for the game

Turns out… Guybrush Threepwood is not really a name I would put on a list with Edward Teach. But you know what? I am glad we played the game anyways. The Secret of Monkey Island reminded me that video games can actually be funny, even if the comedy in most games falls flat. If you have even a remote interest in playing this game, I would say go for it - I don’t think you will walk away disappointed!

Ask me about Loom


"This game has no business making me grind for insults"

"Hilarious game that does not respect the player"

"I wish the game had stats"

"It still rules"