What makes Monkey Island so special? It can be his characters or the setting midway between dark fantasy (with a touch of voodoo magic) and the golden age of piracy; But it’s its dialogues, its puzzles, and how we’re invited to experiment with everything that appears on screen that makes the difference. There’s something else, of course, and LucasArts wanted to find out after the departure of Ron Gilbert himself, its creator, from the studio. The result: The Curse of Monkey Island, one of the most daring and influential graphic adventures. In the shadow of the originals maybe, but also a before and after for an entire genre.

It’s quite a challenge to catch up with The Secret of Monkey Island and try to recreate the awesomeness of LeChuck’s Revenge. Ron Gilbert’s graphic adventures didn’t compare to Sierra’s in sales, but they established a new professorship and fascinated half the world. LucasArts was aware of this. With or without Gilbert, putting an end to Guybrush Threepwood’s insane adventures was absolutely unforgivable. And giving them continuity was the reason for another part: Monkey Island 3? More like The Curse of Monkey Island.

The third installment of Monkey Island will hit store shelves, at least in terms of release order, at the end of 1997, almost six years after Monkey Island 2, and at a critical time for the graphic adventure genre: games like Duke Nukem 3D, Tomb Raider or Diablo had eclipsed point-n-click games almost overnight. Thankfully, technology worked in favor of the intrepid Guybrush: Playing The Curse of Monkey Island was like standing in front of a cartoon and playing with everything on screen. Basically because they were literally cartoons.

A nuance from here: while Gilbert’s absence was an issue that needed to be addressed and will ultimately show in the outcome, The Curse of Monkey Island’s first major challenge was not accommodating the well-deserved cult games which of one graphic adventure was anticipated in 1997, but how does one progress from the brilliant mayhem left by the ending of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge while answering the million-dollar question: What has Guybrush been up to all this time?

Deep in the Caribbean… For the third time!

The good news is that Elaine accepted the marriage proposal before she got upset (with every reason in the world). The not-so-good news was that to get his fiancée back to normal, Guybrush had to move hopscotch halfway across the Caribbean. This is the life of the pirate in the Monkey Island universe.

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If Guybrush had learned anything from his previous adventures, it was that there is a universal solution to all of life’s problems: voodoo. Luckily he not only has some experience in the matter, but also the right person in close proximity to get him out of this uncomfortable swamp: the same voodoo lady who had helped him on previous occasions had settled on the same island, on where he had settled was found. In fact, he could even see the entrance to his new establishment looming just a few yards from Elaine’s statue.

The bad news, of course, is that an adult-sized golden statue in the middle of the beach on an island infested with pirates can further twist their plans. A great little detail that should have been noted before I went. As a result, Guybrush must now not only find a cure for Elaine’s curse, but also find Elaine herself.

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Once again, Guybrush will find himself in a position to tackle absurd challenges with more ingenuity than skill, confront the worst of the Caribbean, assemble a new crew not very keen on setting sail, venturing into the unknown and finally face your own destiny on the mysterious island where all misfortunes seem to converge: Monkey Island.

And while Guybrush does his best to stay out of the way, the crew of a ship not far from our hero rescues a pair of floating boots that emit a mysterious ghostly energy. A huge and rather peculiar shoe that not so long ago belonged to the feared ghost pirate LeChuck. And what’s worse, that small ransom and a shipful of souls was all it took LeChuck to return to the living and unleash an unnecessarily twisted and long overdue vengeance.

The newest game from SCUMM and the most advanced of them all

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The common denominator of all the great graphic adventures of the LucasFilm games and later LucasArts had a name of its own: the Script Creation Utility for the Maniac Mansion system, popularly known by the acronym SCUMM. Wrongly said and soon we’ll talk about both a way of playing and the tool that the developers used to create the story and the puzzles. The Curse of Monkey Island was the last video game to be developed by SCUMM, but it also dared to evolve everything that had worked so well for a decade.

In practice, the way SCUMM and LucasArts Graphic Adventures have been working since the legendary 1987 Maniac Mansion is based on a concept that is terribly easy to understand but very rich and varied in terms of possibilities. Essentially, it involves combining the actions and content that appear on screen, generally through verbs and an inventory system. The Curse of Monkey Island’s use of SCUMM seemed logical, but the other reality is that the way of interacting with video games has evolved too much since the multimedia revolution of the CD-ROM. How to find a way to keep the legacy and continue to stay at the forefront of Point’and Click?

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Without Gilbert at the helm, the heirs to this challenge were Jonathan Ackley and Larry Ahern, who were not only self-confessed fans of the original Monkey Island, but also pursued their own career path in LucasArt’s graphic adventures by collaborating with Tim Schafer (one of the Pillars). of the saga) at full throttle. From there, The Curse of Monkey Island’s premise manifested itself: to offer fans of Guybrush Threepwood a new adventure that not only fully exploits the new possibilities of the latest versions of SCUMM, but also raises the bar when it comes to graphical Adventure.

Artistically, The Curse of Monkey Island is absolutely flawless. LucasArts had already managed to capture the charm of Chuck Jones or Tex Avery cartoons and bring them into the video game with Day of the Tentacle, but Guybrush’s new adventure was on another level, mixing traditional hand-drawn animation with elements more digital Animation and backgrounds combined. in which it is not only nice to get lost with the optics, but which are absolutely recognizable at first glance. If you only see an image with no context, you know exactly what game you are in.

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But that’s not all: for the first time, the characters of Monkey Island had a voice that brought new nuances and more fun to the games, the dialogues and the puzzles. And what a voice! Dominic Armato was born to play Guybrush Threepwood, and the involvement of Alexandra Boyd (Elaine Marley) and Earl Boen (LeChuck) was vital to the project. In fact, Denny Delk was supposed to have a minor role as Murray, a demonic skull with a very bad temper, but his voice gave so much leeway that not only did the character end up having a bigger role, but he ended up having a recurring role in the character deliveries later.

And be careful, LucasArts and ERBE localized the game for the Spanish version of its release, so Antonio Fernández Muñoz put himself in Guybrush’s shoes along with an Elaine, voiced by Elsa Pinillos. And while Chema Lapuente couldn’t quite match Earl Boen’s dark, gritty tone that suits LeChuck so well, a generation of players find it hard not to associate his tone with that of the infamous Ghost Pirate.

However, the most daring step of the project was not the artistic evolution of The Curse of Monkey Island, but its playable restatement: Except for what was indicated by the cursor and the dialogues, the screen was completely letterless, so the lower interface , the inventory and the verb packages to create a simplified system where we could point to what we wanted and apply three types of actions: examine, use, and speak. A decision that fans of the original might more or less like, but that worked beautifully with…