The Curse Of The Curse Of Monkey Island

I don't know whether to chalk this one up to senility or bad user interface design in the game. Bad user interface design in a LucasArts game! What am I saying!

Let me back up, and tell you the whole story. Bear with me. It'll take a while.

For all-the-family-together quality time, for the last couple of years, we've occasionally been playing various computer adventure games. No doubt, thirty or forty years ago, we'd have all been huddled around some board game together, but nowadays technology has taken over.

The latest game was one from LucasArts called The Curse of Monkey Island.

This game is quite old (as computer games go) and requires you to run in 256 colors at 640x480 resolution, it won't "just work" on our Windows Xp box. So we have an old Windows 98 machine for programs such as this.

I started working from home a few months ago, and needed that Windows 98 machine in the office, so that it could run an old HP LaserJet 1100 printer. I don't have drivers for that printer for Windows Xp. At that time, we stopped playing the Curse game. We were about three quarters of the way through.

Now that I have the new HP Laserjet printer in my home office, the Windows 98 machine is freed up, moved to a more accessible spot, and we resumed playing the game. The problem was, I'd forgotten exactly where we were at, and what we'd been doing before that, to get there.

For those adventure gaming connoisseurs who might be able to follow along with the next part, we're playing the Mega-Monkey version, and are working through part IV: "The bartender, the thieves, his aunt, and her lover". For the rest of you, try to keep up.

We are in the hotel and we are trying to give the man behind the bar, a drink to cure his hangover. One of the ingredients is the hair of the dog that bit you, so we need to get the dog in the graveyard to bit us. So using one of the numerous walkthrough for the game, we know that we need to feed the dog the biscuit that contains the maggots.

I looked in our inventory and there appeared to be nothing there. Certainly no maggoty biscuit was visible. Arrgh! What do we do? Our last saved game that showed a maggoty biscuit in the inventory was way back in part II ("the curse gets worst").

So I decided to load that game and work my way through everything that needed to be done up to where we were in the last saved game. I mean everything. For anybody who's played the game, they'll know that one of it's small failings is that painfully long sea battle sequence where you have to trade rhyming insults with all the other pirates. Luckily, I found another walkthrough with all the pairs of insults, which reduced the pain somewhat.

After a couple of hours, we were back where we'd started. I looked in the inventory. It was almost empty! The maggoty biscuit was gone!

I then noticed that the stupid arrow shaped hinges on the inventory chest allowed you to scroll left and right in the inventory. That wasn't obvious, especially as the recipe book in the game uses large red arrows as you hover over its left and right edges, to indicate you need to click here to turn the page in that direction.. Consistency would have been a nice thing. There was also nothing on this in the beautiful full color guide that came with the game. Grrr!

Don't get me wrong. I love these games from LucasArts. They are easy to get into and understand. The humor is excellent. You can't die, so that's a plus. All in all, a great gaming experience.

Except for this one small thing.

We've now finished that game, and have started in on Grim Fandango. Yes I know. Another blast from the past. But these games are perfect fun. We don't need the latest 3D technologies. We just want to be entertained.

Having said that, I am getting a little fedup walking Manny around everywhere in the Land of the Dead, and wish that the UI was similar to Curse (where you just click once to move to a new location), but I'll get over it with enough practice.

Recommendations for other similar games that you've enjoyed would be great.

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