Escape from Monkey Island

Review by Jen

I love it when I get to play an adventure game on a console. I get to stretch out on my big comfortable couch and play on my big comfortable TV instead of using my dinky computer screen (well, not so dinky, I guess, but I sure do get sick of looking at it all day every day) and pile-engendering office chair. And best yet, I don't have to worry about downloading patches and maybe even having to start over sans saved games. It's a rare thing, though, that a true, for lack of a better term, point-and-click game comes along on any console.

I had attempted to play Escape from Monkey Island on my PC and just couldn't muster up very much interest. With liberal use of the walkthrough, I got as far as the Monkey Kombat and then gave up, not so much out of frustration as lack of impetus. I said to myself, I said, "Why do I want to suffer so mightily? Surely an ending cutscene is not worth all this grief." So I must confess when I got the PS2 version, I did not have a whole lot of desire to play it. But I had to. So I could write this stinkin' review.

I was pleasantly surprised by a number of things. First, the graphics made the transition to TV very well. I was expecting huge pixels but they were actually pretty small.

Second, Guybrush was much easier to control (and I was using a gamepad for the PC version, so I expected it to be much the same). There was one particular puzzle involving throwing boulders at certain times that I had a Hades of a time with on the PC version. I was filled with dread at the prospect of doing that again, but it was a piece of cake on the PS2. Go figure.

Well, that's it, I guess, two things. Now that I think about it, maybe one more thing, and it's a biggie: No glitches. The game ran flawlessly throughout.

Now for the downside. First, there are the long load times between each game area, which is understandable given the limitations of the console system. But still, when running back and forth between two areas, this gets a little old.

While some of the puzzles are well thought-out and fair, many others are too difficult and nonsensical.

My TV has stereo speakers built into the base. The stereo effect would drop out sometimes, frequently in fact. A minor complaint to be sure, but worth mentioning here because it was jarring. A person playing on a regular TV might not even notice, but I have one of those big-screen monstrosities.

The load game screen shows four slots, but the save game seems to take up the whole memory card.

The jokes are stale. The bulk of them are recycled from the previous three Monkey Island games, and while they were funny once, maybe twice, three times is pushing it, they fall flat the fourth time around. Some of the new material made me crack a smile, but this game just does not live up to the LucasArts legacy in the humor department.

And Monkey Kombat still sucks. I did it this time but I did not love it. That was an understatement. I meant to say I really, really did not love it. Whoever thought that up is a sadist and should be forced to do some hard time in a sliding tile puzzle chain gang. I would have rather done three mazes, or even, perish the thought, an arcade sequence, than Monkey Kombat. To be fair, I guess it probably looked good on paper in the design process: a giant logic puzzle—adventure gamers love those, right? The concept failed in the execution, though, because it was not fun. I don't know about the rest of you but I play these games for fun. In fact, I would go so far as to say the word "fun" is implied by the word "game."

Rereading the above, I notice I do not sound very positive about EMI. It has lots of good points: Lovely graphics, great music, good voice acting, and LeChuck—LeChuck, especially the flaming version, is magnificent in his evil majesty. It's a good, meaty game. Even following a walkthrough, it will still take 10 to 15 hours to complete, and probably three or four times that with no walkthrough, if ever ... I defy anyone to figure out some of those puzzles without outside help.

EMI is not a bad game but it will never join its brethren in the panoply of gods of the genre. I for one would like to see LucasArts get out of the sequel to sequel to sequel business altogether and focus solely on new ideas. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: LucasArts
Publisher: LucasArts
Release Date: 2000 (PC), 2001 (PS2 and Macintosh)

Available for: Macintosh PlayStation 2 Windows

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(Note: These are not really screenshots, just pictures of my TV. As such, they lose something in clarity and color.)

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System Requirements

Win 95/98
266 MHz CPU
3D accelerator
Quad speed CD-ROM
Keyboard or gamepad
Direct X 7.0 or higher

System 8.1 or later
G3 processor at 233MHz or faster (333 MHz recommended)
64 MB RAM (96 MB recommended)
8X CD-ROM drive (16X recommended)
200 MB free dard drive space
3D Graphics hardware (i.e. ATI RagePro, 128, or Radeon; 3Dfx Voodoo3 or better)
4 MB VRAM (8 MB recommended)
OpenGL 1.2.1 (included)
QuickTime 4.1.2 (included)

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