Malcolm Owen On April 25, 2006 at 10:48 am

Lucasarts has, in the past, created some of the best adventure games ever played. Properties like Grim Fandango, Sam and Max: Hit The Road and Manic Mansion II: Day of the Tentacle have made people laugh for years, whilst testing their thought processes via the medium of obtuse puzzles with copious amounts of weird logic and imagination added in for good measure.
Of the games available, the most loved series has to be the Monkey Island collection. Starting with the Secret of Monkey Island and running to Escape from Monkey Island, the creators have introduced us all to Guybrush, LeChuck, the Voodoo Lady, Stan and the all important Three Headed Monkey, all of which are memorable for the strange deeds they have done throughout the stories. It can only be said that Monkey Island has taught us many important lessons that could be used and applied to our daily lives. Here are possibly the 5 most striking lessons you can take from the series of games.

Mr Threepwood, we salute you!

Stealing is ok in the right circumstances
Like most adventure games, Guybrush relies on using one item with another to fulfil a task in order to proceed, even if it means taking what doesn’t belong to him. Like a computerized Fagin from Oliver Twist, he takes anything that can be handy in the future, sometimes right under the nose of the owner, by exclaiming “Look! A Three Headed Monkey!” or a similar distracting phrase.
Sure, most of the items that he took were of little or no value to others, such as bottomless tankards, head lice, metronomes, puppets and even monkeys, and they are almost forgiveable due to their tiny financial values. A line has to be drawn, however, and it’s almost certainly crossed when it involves someone’s gold tooth! It’s almost as bad as stealing everyone’s dentures in a nursing home, followed by making everyone eat Doritos using only their gums!
Of course it’s best to remember that taking from others things that are not under your ownership is generally wrong and in many places illegal. Only in some extreme circumstances could stealing be frowned upon, such as grabbing essential surgical equipment to do emergency surgery on a person choking on a wooden nickel lying in the middle of the street, but this is rare in itself. Stealing is just plain wrong, no matter what Guybrush teaches us.

The human body is almost indestructible
Since Monkey Island relies on some slapstick humour, many occasions arise where Guybrush, or some significant other cast member, ends up in a situation ending in inevitable pain to somebody. Despite the seriousness of the action, the victim rarely feels much pain at all, except for a need to shout out the name of a local thorny plant that translates to some exclamation in pain.
At one point in the Curse of Monkey Island, GB has to descend a cliff face using a makeshift winch mechanism from the top. Sadly, the absolute genius operating such high-tech machinery screws up almost every time, leaving our hero to plummet to his potential doom on the rocks below. As in real life, Guybrush falls due to gravity, but when he hits the rocks he doesn’t die, fracture a bone or even break a nail. He just gets up and stands ready for your next command. No matter how many times you do this, he will get up for more punishment.
It’s also worth mentioning that Guybrush has the ability to hold his breath for up to 10 minutes at a time. Most freedivers can hold their breath for many minutes whilst diving as deep as possible underwater, and I can hold mine for about a minute and a half if I try hard, but 10 minutes seems like an impossibility to the average person. It’s probably only the super-fit athletic people like Guybrush that can do such an amazing feat.

Stereotypes always hold true
Usually the grand hunting grounds of stand-up comedy, stereotypical actions and beliefs continue to be ubiquitous within Guybrush’s universe. An Australian would speak in a funny way and dress as if they are going to hogtie a kangaroo whilst putting another shrimp on the barbie, Olympic quality swimmers that are almost a male Adonis always speak with a pompous attitude that they are better than you, and fat people really are big boned. Heck, even Murray (The evil demonic talking skull) says that he isn’t bald; he just has a very high widow’s peak, just like every worrying follicle challenged individual in the world.

Fighting is good. Insults are better!
Imagine, if you will, that you’re in school and some huge kid has decided to extract your lower intestines via your kidneys, or the more realistic approach, is going to beat the living crap out of you because you have glanced at him today. Twice. Before he commences his pummelling, he and his posse (group, homies, gang, crew or whatever stupid name they call themselves) unleash a barrage of remarks against you, your beliefs and your mother. (Example – “Yo mamma’s so fat, whenever she wears stilettos she strikes oil! Booya!”) Then they lay the smack down.
Despite ending the day as an overused and bleeding punchbag now lighter of whatever cool things you had in your bag and any cash you had on you as well, it wasn’t the pain you were feeling in your side that upset you. It was the childish torment of people saying your mother was too heavy to step on the Golden Gate Bridge. The insults always have more of an effect, be it in emotional damage or the amount of time you feel hurt, than the physical violence.
Monkey Island demonstrates that it is better to insult than wallop, throughout the scenes. Granted, it has very little in the way of actual violence, and Guybrush has serious leanings towards the “geek-wimp” standard just above, but he has a command of language that he is not afraid to use, especially in the insult sword-fighting. A feature that I admire in the man, since I too was an insignifi… a… erm…
Moving On.

Humour CAN work in Games
Lets be honest here. Humour in games does not work for the most part. With many different countries and cultures to cater for, writing a joke that everyone can enjoy is an almost impossible task. Some pioneers have managed it, such as the Rowan Atkinson character Mr Bean, but they have only managed it by using so little actual language that physical comedy is not only an extra type of humour to include in sketches, it’s also a necessity.
Only a few games have managed to use physical comedy to good effect, with more preferring the easier route of using actual words to say something funny.
The Monkey Island series has always had a superb writing team that knows not only how to write within the game’s limitations, but also a humour that can be appreciated by anyone that can understand English and knows a little pop culture.

Even you.

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