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ZizzyB23

The Problem with Escape from Monkey Island... (?) [POSSIBLE SPOILERS]

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Inspired by a recent thread I saw about the Monkey Island series (http://www.doublefine.com/forums/viewthread/6165/) I thought I'd make this thread to clear up some confusion for me.

Can anybody tell me why they think Escape from Monkey Island (MI4) is so bad? In so many people's responses they say they absolutely hate MI4 and I honestly can't see any reason why. I know the original team from the first two games weren't involved but the same is true for the third game and for Tales of Monkey Island.

I'm a huge Adventure Game buff. For the record my favorite Adventure Game is Grim Fandango, my favorite Monkey Island game is Curse of Monkey Island (MI3), and my least favorite Monkey Island game(s) is/are Tales of Monkey Island (MI5). I like MI3 so much because the music and art are especially superb here and I think it's just as funny as any of the other games (it was also the first game of the series I played so that may have some influence on me). When it comes to MI5 I can't see any reason why anyone would rate it higher than MI4. MI5 was super cheap, with easy to solve puzzles, recycled character models, recycled environments, and the story was just real big turn off for me (the Morgan LeFlay love story/ subsequent death scene, the Marquis De Singe, and then the bizarre twist that LeChuck was never evil and that the Voodoo Lady was some sinister mastermind all along). I completely understand that a lot of my problems with MI5 have to do with its tight production schedule at Telltale and that they were under a lot of constraints, fine, but that doesn't excuse any of its problems though.

Escape from Monkey Island, as far as I can tell, is just as funny as the other games, and the puzzles are just as complex or inventive (the Mysts o' Tyme Marshe sequence comes to mind as pretty brilliant). Were people really bothered that Guybrush and Elaine were married or something? I love MI4 completely, and I'm not looking for an argument when I ask people to tell me why they hated the game. Does it really suck and am I missing something? I want to understand...

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Escape from Monkey Island, as far as I can tell, is just as funny as the other games

Really? Funny as the other games? REALLY?

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I like Escape from Monkey Island. It was actually the first MI game I owned and played through. It got me to play the prior ones as well then. CMI is my favorite overall but I liked a lot of MI4. The only piece that bothered me really was monkey kombat but other than that I thought the humor and puzzles were good. Like you mentioned I really liked the Mysts O' Tymes Marshe mostly by what happened when I screwed up the sequence. I'm not sure how many times I went through that just to see what the different reactions were.

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Escape from Monkey Island, as far as I can tell, is just as funny as the other games

Really? Funny as the other games? REALLY?

Yes really. Did you have anything interesting to say about that or did you just want to let everyone know how funny and sarcastic you can be?

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[...] and the story was just real big turn off for me (the Morgan LeFlay love story/ subsequent death scene, the Marquis De Singe, and then the bizarre twist that LeChuck was never evil and that the Voodoo Lady was some sinister mastermind all along).

In the name of all gamers who hadn´t played it yet: Thanks for the mega spoiler...

:roll:

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In the name of all gamers who hadn´t played it yet: Thanks for the mega spoiler...

:roll:

That was my mistake. I've taken the appropriate actions to warn others about potential spoilers in this thread. I genuinely apologize.

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That was my mistake. I've taken the appropriate actions to warn others about potential spoilers in this thread. I genuinely apologize.

Thanks & welcome to the forums, ZizzyB23!

Well, it´s hard to tell why exactly I didn´t like MI4 too much. Of course there are those (imho!) clumsy 3D-controls like in GF. But the storyline didn´t touch me either. All I can say is, that it just didn´t "feel right". I didn´t feel any "magic". But I have to admit that I didn´t play it all the way through.

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There are plenty of reasons why MI4 gets hate, but also plenty of reasons why I don't think this is totally deserved. MI4 is funny, the puzzles are generally good, there is some innovation, and the story is told well. There's also lots of little side-conversations that are possible, and things to discover. It is a good game, and even won some awards if I recall.

On to the bad though. Here's some reasons why MI4 is easily the worst game in the series:

• The camera/controls combination sucks. A few times you run down by pressing up, which is ridiculous. On the overworld maps, there are frequently parts that will spin you around when running. This is annoying. And to look at things you have to make Guybrush turn back and forth until he notices it.

• The game was not piratey. Jambalaya island in particular seemed very out of place in a monkey island game. None of the new characters, with the exception of Ignatius Cheese, were piratey either.

• The game clung to the older series (The Swordmaster, Otis, Meathook, Herman....) but frequently jarred horribly with it. I couldn't see any reason for most of these call-backs, especially Guybrush ending up on Monkey Island. There was no need for that at all.

• The ending sucked

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Honestly, I love Escape and find it very funny until you get to Monkey Island. From there, the puzzles become insanely bad, Monkey Kombat happens, and the game decides to completely ruin the entire series's continuity. I hate, hate, hate Escape from when you get to Monkey Island onward.

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For me 3D was the main reason I didn't like MI4 or MI5 or even Grim Fandango. 2d graphics have a quality and atmosphere to them, which make you feel like you're in a cartoon where everything is possible. You're sucked into the beautiful storytelling and artwork from the first minute and time-and-time again, helped by the natural controls of clicking where you want to go.

In 3D the characters lose their personality and the controls feels clunky and unnatural, walking into walls and objects take you out of that fantasy world. This spoil all fun for me. Playing becomes a chore and gets in the way of enjoying the story, puzzles and jokes for me. So I put the game down to never pick it up again.

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While I wouldn't say I hate Escape there were plenty of things that bothered me about it:

1) The switch to the GrimE engine left me with a control scheme I didn't much care for (Same issue I had with Grim Fandango).

Is it still playable...I'd have to say yes with an asterisk*

2) Some of the dialog for Guybrush made him come of as more of a a$$#@^& than he had been in previous games.

This is arguably subjective but from my view it was present.

3) Story was weak compared to MKI 1-3 and the humor more focused on popculture references leaving it more susceptible to becoming dated.

There are more reasons I could list but I'll leave it at that for now.

Overall I'd say I don't hate MKI4 but in my view it was certainly the weakest game to come out of LucasArts.

Now TellTales MKI5 on the other hand I can definitely say I do hate

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For me it wasn't the fact that it was 3D but the problem that it felt extremely cold and dead to me. It didn't have the spirit of the trilogy, it felt all wrong. It's the only MI game I haven't finished and never will.

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Escape was a decent adventure game, but a disappointing Monkey Island game. It seemed too far departed from the normal piratey setting of other Monkey Island games, the art direction was (in my opinion) rather unappealing (especially the background art), it used Grim Fandango's questionable control scheme, the entire final act from when you get to Monkey Island onwards just kinda sucked, Monkey Kombat (at least on PC where the player doesn't get a handy cheat-sheet), LeChuck taking the backseat to Mandrill as the villain, and the notorious Herman Toothrot retcon. It managed to make me laugh a bit more than Tales did, but funny one-liners don't make for an interesting story.

There was also something that just felt "off" about the whole thing, like it was missing some special something that makes the Monkey Island series what it is. It's difficult to explain, though.

And yes, I liked Tales more than Escape. Telltale clearly added their own flavor to it, which would be a turn-off to some, especially those who don't like their other work, but I like their Sam and Max games, so it was no surprise that I enjoyed their take on Monkey Island as well. I personally liked the darker turn the story took in the last two chpaters. While Tales may have some of the weakest puzzle design (probably due to the low budget and tight schedule the game was made with), I found the story to be more than interesting enough to keep me engaged, while for Escape, I had to drag myself to completion because I just wasn't really that interested in what was going on.

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Monkey Kombat and plot continuity were the main problems for me. I enjoyed playing through it, but parts of the game really trampled on my understanding of the MI universe and the believability of its world. It had a lot going for it as an adventure game, but it felt to me like it was made by people who didn't quite share my views on what made the series great. It's been years since I played it, though. I could probably enjoy it for what it is much more easily now.

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I'm glad I asked. I think I've gotten a lot of very good answers. While my personal opinion on the game probably isn't changing I'm beginning to understand why other people don't like it as much.

- I'm seeing a lot of complaints about the controls scheme and "Monkey Kombat". I can make no apologies for those. The controls did get screwy and Monkey Kombat was very very frustrating. I suppose I'm just more forgiving of those type of things...

- I feel like the game could get away with not being "piratey" enough because the game acknowledged that itself. Ozzie Mandrill wanted to end the Age of the Pirate, and Jambalaya Island was owned by Mandrill and Guybrush hated how un-piratey it was.

- Yeah, LeChuck sort of being the "surprise" villain behind Ozzie Mandrill was a little weak. Everyone loves LeChuck. But I feel Mandrill wasn't all that bad of a villain actually. I certainly like him more than de Singe from Tales of Monkey Island.

- I actually forgot about the whole Herman Toothrot being Elaine's grandfather retcon thing. Could anybody refresh my memory about the specifics of why that was so bad? I know it has something to do with contradicting something from the first game and a race to Australia....

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My issue with Monkey Kombat was more to do with how out of place a giant robot felt in the MI universe (including, if I remember correctly, how it completely changed the nature of MI1's giant monkey head. I can't remember if or how the plot dealt with that, though) than the gameplay itself.

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My issues with Monkey Island:

*Jokes that either weren´t funny, or were out of place. Pop cultural references and related parodies that were more fitted for a Sam&Max; game then a Monkey Island game.

*It didn´t look good.

*Reuse of characters from the old games with any real purpose. They were there for the sake of it.

*The puzzles weren´t good. The reuse of insult swordfighting stopped being funny in Curse of Monkey Island.

*It tried to completely rewrite the story of the first Monkey Island game.

I still don´t accept Escape as entry in the series.

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yeah the insult battles were super old at that point. (though I think it worked ok in curse)

I only played the beginning...though I did think some jokes were funny and some puzzles ok. it just felt like it was going through the motions of monkey island, but lacked the soul... backgrounds were boring and uninviting, completely lacking that bill tiller charm they tried to mimic. ironic actually that monkey island 1 looked better. you cant revisit a location and make it look worse for lands sakes! dont know much about the story since I didnt play far.

-your name is "I. Cheese"?

-aye.

-cheese??

-aye.

made me lol though

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- Yeah, LeChuck sort of being the "surprise" villain behind Ozzie Mandrill was a little weak. Everyone loves LeChuck. But I feel Mandrill wasn't all that bad of a villain actually. I certainly like him more than de Singe from Tales of Monkey Island.

Hey, as lame as "Surprise! Charles L. Charles is actually LECHUCK!!!" was, at least they tried a little. In Tales they didn't even give him a pseudonym or anything, he was just hanging out there going "I'm totally not evil this time! I sure hope you don't remember any of the events of the previous games or know what pattern recognition is!" for three episodes. SUBTLE.

Also "The Voodoo Lady made me do it!" was just one of "Good" LeChuck's lies. Yeah the lame twist ending did strongly imply that the Voodoo Lady had some kind of evil scheme going on, but that was just for reasons of Lucasarts/Telltale hoping to milk the franchise for another season of fresh new ideas, such as "Guybrush Threepwood, a mighty pirate is in a love triangle with Elaine Marley and LeChuck the Evil Ghost, Zombie, Demon, Robot, Mediocre Liar, Probably A Yeti Or Something This Time, Pirate somewhere in the Caribbean."

Seriously though, as much as the writing did have problems in Escape and Tales, I don't think after three games of the same plot anyone could make a truly good addition to the series so long as the cadaver of Monkey Island maintains its ghastly death grip on that tired old recycled plot.

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There is an inversely-proportional rate of attrition regarding the number of a MI game and the number of times I've played it. To put it another way, I've played Secret of Monkey Island a buttload of times, MI2 quite a lot, Curse somewhat, and MI4 just once. Tales of MI, I've only played the first chapter.

Aside from sequel-itis, I think that MI4 just doesn't feel very MI. The re-imagined Melee Island just didn't resonate with me, and Monkey Kombat could have been so much more interesting, rather than rock-paper-scissors rules. Also, and I anticipate that this may be an unpopular thing to say, but MURRAY annoyed the hell out of me in 4, even though I loved the hell out of him in 3.

At the end of the day, Lucasarts attempted a certain direction with MI4, and the fans were not wholly responsive to that direction.

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I actually didn't mind Monkey Kombat. I made a chart and it took me about 20, 30 minutes to solve it. A neat little logical problem.

But...

The problem was one of tone. The Monkey Island games were always full of anachronism, sometimes quite obviously so, but it was never the point. It was always a background facet of the world that didn't go out of the way to draw attention to itself even when it was rather noticeable.

Escape from Monkey Island chose to use its commercialisation of piracy plot to bring the anachronistic things into the foreground, and I think in doing so it both lost some of the flavour of the older entries, and overegged the humour. Particularly in the central section it seemed to be trying way too hard to be funny and failing more regularl in comparison with the first three games, and the heavy handed satire felt jarringly out of place for a game series that has never been about that.

I found the visual design to be rather poor - it seemed quite evident that they had significantly less resources than Grim Fandango to really make those pre-rendered environments come to life.

Tales of Monkey Island may have been an easier game, but I think it did a lot better job of capturing the spirit of what Monkey Island is about, especially the final 3 episodes, and at least tried to understand the dark heart of Monkey Island (which really developed through Monkey Island 2), in a way that MI4 never did.

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I personally like Escape from Monkey Island and for me it's the funniest of the series and it has with some great plot twists. However, I agree that it's definitively not the best of the series. Here are my biggest complaints about it:

- Monkey Kombat. Oh my god that sucks so bad. First, it's an easy puzzle. Second, it takes a hell of a long time to learn the language, and unlike insult fighting you don't get to listen to jokes while doing so. Third, writing tons of "ooks" and "eeks" on a sheet of paper is just plain confusing, and I had to create a metalanguage to avoid that problem. Finally, the solution to beat the last boss is completely illogical. Overall, Monkey Kombat is a complete waste of time.

- Unavoidable crash during a 5-minute cutscene on NVIDIA Riva 128 video cards in DirectX mode, even though the documentation clearly listed that model as compatible. Switching to OpenGL mode caused the same cutscene to run at 0.1 FPS on the same video card. Urgh.

- Insult fighting was no longer reserved for swordfighting, but for any type of duel, which removes the pirate flavor of the franchise.

- The puzzle where you must get a specific prosthesis. Solving it requires looking at an object that is most likely in your inventory for a hint, which is a poorly documented feature you never have to perform during the entire game otherwise.

- Combining all the bad prostheses parts of the previous puzzle causes a glitch that resets the amnesia puzzle when used later in the game.

- LeChuck is a shapeshifter. Wait, what?

- Some relatively obscure pop culture jokes.

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When I played Escape from Monkey Island it was not only the first Monkey Island game I had played, it was the first I had even heard of. I didn't realize it was a sequel until I brought it home and started playing. There are a LOT of references to the previous games. How I managed to do this I don't know seeing as I had played Grim Fandango, Sam & Max Hit the Road and pretty much every game with the word Quest in it.

I really enjoyed Escape from Monkey Island, I thought it was witty and fun, but perhaps a bit too easy. Perhaps it's because I wasn't burdened with the expectations that some of you seem to have had but I had a great time, except for monkey kombat which was clearly broken so I used Gamefaqs to cheat. So perhaps it's all about expectations because I really enjoyed it, in isolation.

P.S. the Nvidia Riva 128 had a lot of bugs in a lot of games. I don't think it's the developers fault. Try running the PC version of Final Fantasy 7 on one, I dare you.

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- LeChuck is a shapeshifter. Wait, what?

LeChuck had shown that he could convincingly disguise himself once prior, by disguising himself as the sheriff in Secret of Monkey Island, though I don't think how he disguised himself as the sheriff was ever really detailed.

Even if he had used supernatural means to shapeshift himself to look like a sheriff in SoMI, they went way overboard with that ability in EfMI.

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After having played the first 3, number 4 felt disappointing, like it is when you a recent Disney after getting used to Pixar movies.

Reasons:

- a weaker Guybrush who seems to want to please me, the player, with jokes that beg for a laugh but are not really getting one. In the first 3 installments Guybrush was just as much of a antihero, but he had a way more stubborn and independent personality, which made him stronger and more likeable.

- story overall lacking darkness or danger

- there is a fine line between surrealism (or even absurdism) and pointless inconsistencies

- Grim Fandango controls (not very good by themselves) combined with a dizzying complicated, moving scenery where everything flies around your head as you walk around

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After having played the first 3, number 4 felt disappointing, like it is when you a recent Disney after getting used to Pixar movies.

Reasons:

- a weaker Guybrush who seems to want to please me, the player, with jokes that beg for a laugh but are not really getting one. In the first 3 installments Guybrush was just as much of a antihero, but he had a way more stubborn and independent personality, which made him stronger and more likeable.

- story overall lacking darkness or danger

- there is a fine line between surrealism (or even absurdism) and pointless inconsistencies

- Grim Fandango controls (not very good by themselves) combined with a dizzying complicated, moving scenery where everything flies around your head as you walk around

I think you've hit the nail on the head here, especially with the first point. Guybrush is just annoying in 4. Pushover characters are just not fun. I think the lack of darkness or danger stemmed a little from the fact that the real encroaching threat was the commercialization of what was a dangerous and fun world, and to be honest I think that is a little too close to the bone. I like the immersive escapism of adventure games, and being immersed in something that is such an unabashed metaphor of high-street trend is frankly just depressing. Especially when you're doing it off the back of the GRIME engine which was good when it was released but was too old by the time they used it for MI4.

I've always thought of the Monkey Island games as a game and its one sequel, and stopped at that though, so perhaps I'm not really the target audience. I think after 2, they're a little bit like (I'm so going to get flamed for this) the Star Wars prequels. I'm almost surprised that in SE they didn't make Greedo shoot first.

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The terrible interface was the single worst thing about this game. Though I really didn't like a lot of the plot later in the game, it grew on me over the years. The interface did not however, resulting in extra-low replay value for me.

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We are gamers, gamers play games more hours than the average. Gamers can spend hors playing dull games, because that's what we do. Gamers can like games no one else does, but as gamers we appreciate the real gems. Having said that, yes MI4 is playable and enjoyable, is just a question of the order.

If you go from MI1 there is no way you get through MI4, but if you start MI4 you will undoubtebly get it from MI1. And ironicly, because we have selective memory, you will always think MI4 as a great game.

That happened to me with Roland in Time! :bug:

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We are gamers, gamers play games more hours than the average. Gamers can spend hors playing dull games, because that's what we do. Gamers can like games no one else does, but as gamers we appreciate the real gems. Having said that, yes MI4 is playable and enjoyable, is just a question of the order.

If you go from MI1 there is no way you get through MI4, but if you start MI4 you will undoubtebly get it from MI1. And ironicly, because we have selective memory, you will always think MI4 as a great game.

That happened to me with Roland in Time! :bug:

I played the Monkey Island games in order, and I got through MI4 more-or-less in one sitting (Took breaks, of course, but I didn't play any other games at the time, just MI4) even though there were parts in which I definitely had to force myself to keep going (I was really tempted to just drop the game a few times during the final act). I had already heard so many bad things about it before I started playing, that perhaps my lowered expectations helped me through it.

Aside from some outright bad ones, most of the puzzles are pretty solid, and some of the jokes got a genuine laugh out of me, but where MI4 falls on its face, in my opinion, is the interface/controls and how the story is handled, especially during the final act. Because of that, what you said is still fairly true: If MI4 is someone's first Monkey Island, they might absolutely love it because they've never played another Monkey Island before so they have no expectations in place.

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