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Lucasfilm Games Rewind: The Secret of Monkey Island

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This legendary classic raised the (pirate) standard for adventure games.

In Lucasfilm Games Rewind, looks back at classic Lucasfilm Games adventures, discussing why we love them, their legacy, and why it’s not too late to revisit them today.

Ahoy there, fancy pants!

Have you ever heard the name Guybrush Threepwood? Once you do, you’ll never forget it! The wannabe pirate is the star of the celebrated Monkey Island series of video games. His story began in The Secret of Monkey Island, a landmark of the point-and-click adventure game genre. On a quest to realize his swashbuckling dreams, Guybrush makes his way to Mêlée Island™. There he finds much more than just boring buried treasure waiting for him — like pirates. And ghosts. And pirate ghosts. And that was just the start of his adventures!

Let’s set off in search of gaming treasure in this edition of Lucasfilm Games Rewind.

Inside Story

The Secret of Monkey Island was created and designed by Ron Gilbert with Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer. Inspired by Tim Powers’ novel On Stranger Tides with a dash of Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean, the game was destined to stand out among the adventure-game crowd.

After two-and-a-half years of development, the 2D, 16-color adventure released in 1990. A re-release on CD-ROM later expanded the color palette and improved the music. In 2009, The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition brought pirates, ghosts, zombie heads, cannibals, and, of course, monkeys to a new generation of gamers with updated HD graphics and an entirely-voiced story.

Wits are the name of this pirate game, from solving puzzles to engaging in impressive swordplay. A sharp tongue, not a razor-edged rapier, gives Guybrush the upper hand in a duel. Collecting the best responses to your opponents’ taunts not only makes Monkey Island’s combat one-of-a-kind, but, even better, makes you laugh.


As the game begins, the pirate leaders of Mêlée Island™ give Guybrush Threepwood three tasks to complete if he wants to be recognized as a real buccaneer. On his journey he meets an entertaining cast of characters, including the argumentative Fettucine Brothers, Stan, the salesman with the some of the most animated arms ever visualized in a video game, and the capable and beautiful Governor Elaine Marley. Guybrush approaches them all with an easygoing greeting and a laid-back personality. As you might have guessed, he isn’t your typical pirate.

“Guybrush Threepwood is a bit of a hapless hero,” Gilbert told in 2022. “He’s much more of a hero in his own brain than he actually is in the world. A lot of games with a hapless hero poke fun at them, but we try to poke fun at his view of the world instead.”

Players interact with the world and items Guybrush picks up using the original game’s innovative SCUMM system — which is also the clever name of the sketchy drinking establishment on the island — or by opening the command window in the remake. He finds room in his pockets for some unusual items, from gopher repellant to a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle. Some of them even prove to be useful. (That’s some chicken!)

Lasting Legacy

With its colorful characters, delightfully despicable villains, and tongue-in-cheek tone, The Secret of Monkey Island became a timeless classic. “The Secret of Monkey Island is one of the most beloved adventure games of all time, and with good reason,” begins IGN’s review of the special edition. “For one, it’s hilarious… But it’s also an expertly crafted enterprise that serves as a shining example of how to make a compelling point-and-click game.”

The original game was followed by Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge the next year. A total of six games in the series would be released over the decades, bringing the tale of Monkey Island™ to a close in Return to Monkey Island in 2022. But that wasn’t the last we’d see of Guybrush Threepwood; players got to experience another tall tale of his adventures in a 2023 crossover event with the swashbucklers in Sea of Thieves.

If you’re ready to climb aboard and start your own journey to Mêlée Island™, The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is currently available on Steam,, and on consoles.

Kelly Knox is the author of Star Wars: Conversation CardsBe More Obi-Wan, and Star Wars: Dad Jokes. You can find her on X at @kelly_knox

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