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Monkey Island

Monkeying Around with Replicants

Monkey Island and Blade Runner

By Steven Bilodeau

Imagine a game that has a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. One that has characters with personality. Imagine a game that will make you laugh out loud - a genuine laugh, not some pathetic snicker. Imagine a game that looks good enough to be in a movie theatre, with details and colour that you want to keep for desktop wallpaper. Imagine voice acting that enhances all of the jokes that have been placed in the story.

Imagine all of this, and much more, and you've got The Curse of Monkey Island.

This is LucasArts' third installment in the Monkey Island series. The hallmark of these games has been intricately written storylines set in the pirate-infested Caribbean. The hero, Guybrush Threepwood, is no Errol Flynn. Yet despite his simple ways, he is a hero, protecting his girlfriend Elaine from the clutches of the Evil Zombie Pirate of the Undead, LeChuck.

As the story starts, Guybrush is captured and has to escape from LeChuck's ship. This requires the right choice of tactics with your captor, a three-foot tall newly-recruited pirate who is easily brought to tears. You eventually escape after a volley of cannon-fire destroys a pirate ship nearby. Before leaving, though, you find the largest diamond ring you've ever seen. Once you find Elaine, you present her with the ring - only to find that it is cursed!

Elaine turns into a solid gold statue and, as you go looking for help, she is stolen (after all, she IS solid gold!). Thus begins the story; you take it from there.

The game is filled with puzzles in the typical adventure game style. You have to find the right object and use it in the correct location. Along the way you engage in conversations with the various characters, and it is necessary to say the right thing at the right time in order to proceed.

It's easy to learn how to play the game since the interface is so simple. You just click your mouse on an object and the action screen will appear. You can talk to, use or look at an object or character. There are many logic puzzles as well, including a lengthy insult duel against the pirate captains.

The game can be difficult at times, but perseverance should get you through. There is plenty of motivation, since each scene contains its own comedy and advances the story.

There is a choice at the beginning of the game to reduce the number of puzzles or to play with every challenge thrown at you. It doesn't change the story to any extent and is a nice compromise for the amateur and experienced gamer to enjoy this title.

Blade Runner

Blade Runner

Another game that will have you thinking is Blade Runner from Westwood Studios. This game has been eagerly anticipated because of its "real-time" engine.

The characters in this game act as though they have lives of their own. They carry on whether you interact with them or not. As a result, their behaviour varies depending on the way you deal with them, and with their own experiences. Sometimes a character may have little impact on you, other times that character may be crucial to you. There are 70 different persons in the game with whom you can interact.

The game is, of course, based on the classic 1982 Harrison Ford film directed by Ridley Scott. You don't play the Deckard character, but a rookie named Ray McCoy sent out to hunt the artificial human "Replicants." There are over 100 scenes in the gorgeous 3D rendered Los Angeles.

You'll notice the music, sounds and cutscenes all blend to create a real cinematic experience.

McCoy pieces together clues through interviews and by collecting evidence. As the story evolves, new areas will become available for you to explore, with more characters. Depending on when you get there, and in what order, the characters may have differing attitudes and information.

This game has the same dark imagery of the movie along with the violence, language and adult themes.

Fans of the movie will love this game. If you haven't seen it yet, play the game anyway. The introduction does a great job of setting the scene. You'll enjoy it so much that your next stop will be the video store.

Steven Bilodeau is a columnist for the Edmonton Journal. You can find more of his columns at

Steven Bilodeau can be reached via e-mail at And for more computer news, visit JournalExtra, the World Wide Web site of The Edmonton Journal, at


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May 14, 2006