quarta-feira, 5 de outubro de 2011

Treasure Chest #06: Fighting with words

Hello again gamers! Welcome to another “Treasure Chest”. Always remembering, this series is based on an ongoing series from Destructoid, “The Memory Card” by Chad Concelmo.

Again I want to thank: João Marcelo Beraldo, Rafael Martins, Gilliard Lopes, Luise Braunsperger and Heloísa Pintarelli!! Thank you all!!

I know I promised to make only new moments when compared to the ones made on Destructoid’s Memory Card. The moment I’m gonna talk today was already done, you can read it here, but this moment was so significant to me that I will break my promise... sorry...

The game we are talking about probably build the foundations of my bizarre humour. And note that humour is a hard thing to do on videogames, but the Monkey Island series just hit my sweet spot. The first step on this wonderful series gives us one of the most innovative fighting sequences of all time. Welcome to The Secret of Monkey Island.

The Set-Up

The Secret of Monkey was developed by LucasArts and was released in 1990 to the PC. A special edition with improved graphics and sound was released on 2009 to the XBLA, PSN, PC and iOS. (So, no excuses for the ones that haven’t played this yet! Go play it!) The first Monkey Island game I’ve played was the third one of the series The Curse of Monkey Island and I just loved it! It made me research about the series, which is when I found out the series had two other games. One of them was The Secret of Monkey Island. I just needed to play it!

The game starts with an island on screen and the most hummable music ever done as back ground! I really love the music... The game then focus on a thin blond guy who had just washed up on the shore of Melee Island. On the first dialogue this fellow introduces himself to an old man and already set his goal for the game. “My name is Guybrush Threepwood, and I want to be a pirate!”

The bond is instantaneous, at the end of the first dialogue the player probably had already connected with Guybrush. He is just the average guy with ambition. The old man instruct the player to go to the SCUMM bar to talk to the pirate leaders, but not before misspeaking his name, mocking Guybrush’s appearance and setting the humorous tone the player was going to face through the game.

The SCUMM bar is named after the engine used on the game, the SCUMM engine. It’s a engine specialized into point-and-click adventures. It used a interaction of action and objects. On the bottom of the screen the player could use the mouse cursor to select actions (such as: Open, Close, Give) and objects in the Inventory and combine them with persons, location or other objects. For instance, the player could select the action Give, the object Fish and the “person” Troll to give the fish to the Troll. All the gameplay revolved around these interactions and dialogs.

Upon entering the Scumm Bar, Guybrush finds a lot of pirates partying (and even a dog, who have one of the most hilarious dialog tree in the game) and get to know the history of LeChuck, the main villain of the game, who is scaring pirates of the island. He then approaches the Pirate leaders and, after saying he wasn’t to become a pirate, the leaders (who are low on pirates due to LeChuck’s actions) give three trials to Guybrush complete. He needs to master the art of thievery, treasure hunting and sword fighting.

The moment of this edition happens when Guybrush is trying to master the last trial: The sword.

The Moment

The trial requires that Guybrush find and defeat the Sword Master! But first of all, Guybrush does not have a sword and does not know how to fight. After working at a circus to get money to afford a sword, Guybrush heads to Captain Smirk’s house for training. Hours later... and more hours later... Guybrush is ready to use the sword!

But now that the sparkling innovation takes place. Smirk teaches that what you say matters when fighting, you have to throw insults and clever comebacks to get opponents off-guard. After learning a couple of insults and comebacks from Smirk, Guybrush leaves his maste’s house and goes to the streets of Melee Island picking a fight with every pirate he can find.

Whenever you find a pirate, the game enters a sword fighting mode. But this mode is not based on pressing buttons or making special moves, it’s about wits. When you start the fight you can choose an opening insult . The list of insults that you know are shown on the bottom of the screen. Now, the enemy gives a comeback. If this comeback is the right one for the insult you chose, he pushes Guybrush back using his sword and takes the advantage. Now he insults you, and you have to give a comeback. Guybrush advances when he gives the right comeback or an insult without answer. Whoever advances 3 times first wins the duel.

Every insult or comeback used during fights are added to Guybrush’s “known phrases” so that he can use them in future fights. But the hard part is, you have to know which are the right comebacks to each insult. You can either learn them by experimentation or by analysing each comeback and choosing one that makes a good pun. That’s the player’s wit coming into action!

Here is a list of Insults and comebacks used in the game (not all of them, just enough for you guys to taste the clever jokes on these insults)

Insult - You fight like a dairy farmer.
Comeback - How appropriate. You fight like a cow.

Insult - I once owned a dog that was smarter then you.
Comeback - He must have taught you everything you know.

Insult - I've spoken with apes more polite than you.
Comeback - I'm glad to hear you attended your family reunion.

Insult - There are no words for how disgusting you are.
Comeback - Yes there are. You just never learned them.

Insult - People fall at my feet when they see me coming.
Comeback - Even BEFORE they smell your breath?

After feeling prepared and learning lots of insults, the player has to go to Carla, the Sword Master and challenge her to a duel. Carla uses only new insults, reserved only to her. But different from other fights, Carla always insults Guybrush, even with correct comebacks. This makes this fight even more challenging for the player, since he HAS to answer correctly to win. You may think that you can go back to fight the other pirates again, using the insults of the sword master to find the comebacks... but the pirates panic when you use them and never answer.

So, what to do? You have to correctly match old comebacks with these new insults. I’ll show only one of these new insults and its comeback...the others are up to you find out when you duel Carla. But rest assured, it’s really great and very fulfilling when you finally win this duel!

Insult - I will milk every drop of blood from your body!
Comeback - How appropriate. You fight like a cow.

Watch this wonderful and creative way of fighting here:

The Impact

As I said before, humour is a hard thing to insert on videogames. Games are usually too long (10 to 20 hours) to keep the same joke lasting over and over and sometimes the player is not even paying attention to what the game is offering him. So, how to make it work smooth?

This clever sword fight is a great example: humour mixed with the gameplay. And besides the ironic humour, the player has to use his brain to figure out each joke and use it in his favour. This makes the joke and the task completion seamlessly merged and greatly fulfilling.

On top of that, the creative way to create action, on a game that’s not oriented to it. If this sword sequence was too much centered in combos, moves or button mashing, players that enjoy this “peaceful” feeling that is pat of every adventure game would be annoyed.

This formula is so good, that in every other game of the Monkey Island series we have something similar. Not quite as good, I must say... but works nonetheless.

Of course, nothing of this could be possible without the great and charismatic characters, the unusual scenery and the very first joke, that sets the tone of the game and prepares the player for the journey ahead. After all, the insult SWORD fighting is just a SLICE of the game.

This little moment it’s so brief but so unusual. It’s a great quirk of The Secret of Monkey Island.

When you first ask him, Smirks refuses to train Guybrush because he doesn’t have what it takes to be a good sword fighter. Something awkward and different from usual adventure games happens now. The player has to be stubborn, and choose the “I do so” (have what it takes) option on the dialog several times before being accepted as a Smirk’s student.

Usually, on adventure games, if you choose the same dialog over and over again the character you are talking to always answer the same thing over and over again. But not here, not when the fun is being stubborn. It took me a while to figure that out, since as a veteran adventure game, I always assume that once I use a dialog, I don’t need to go there again. Silly me, this had given me a lesson.

See this Quick Lightning Moment here:

Um comentário:

Marcelo Martins disse...


Obrigado por trazer o melhor adventure de todos os tempos ao Treasure Chest.

Engraçado que, quando eu joguei esse jogo, eu tinha 10 anos de idade. Eu não fazia a mínima ideia do que estava acontecendo na hora da luta de espadas! Era pura tentativa e erro!

Agora você me lembrou outro momento incrível da série: o campeonato de cuspe do MI2. Eu fiquei durante HORAS naquela parte tentando descobrir o que fazer...

Meus parabéns pelo texto!

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