Play or Pass: The Elder Scrolls and The Secret of Monkey Island

Welcome to the next post in my year-long series “Play or Pass” that takes on the proverbial “must before death” theme with video games. Every other week I will be covering one or two games from “32 Video Games You Have To Play Before You Die,” a list compiled by BuzzFeed based on a reader poll. I will not be critiquing the list itself, but rather I’ll be discussing each game or games in whatever manner feels fitting and will attempt to answer a couple simple questions: Have I played [insert game name here]? If yes, do I consider it a “must” and why? If no, do I want to play the game before I die? I’ll be going through the games in the order in which they appear on the BuzzFeed list. Good? Good. Let’s get on with the games!


Week sixteen: (20) The Elder Scrolls and (21) The Secret of Monkey Island

Now if you'll quit yelling at me for a moment and just let me explain... (source)

First up in Play or Pass this week is…”The Elder Scrolls.” Huh. This is, uh, interesting. Because The Elder Scrolls is a series, and no game in the series is singled out so… should I go with the notion that the entire series is a must? Because that seems a little extreme. The only Elder Scrolls game I’ve played is Skyrim, so perhaps I can riff off the following question: “Having played Skyrim, would I want to go back and play other games in the series?”

Maybe. I think?

See, I enjoyed Skyrim well enough, but not enough to sink half my lifetime into it as some players have. Fact is, Skyrim is a H-U-G-E game. Say what you will about glitches and arrows and extensively stilted dialogue (at times), there’s enough in the game to keep one busy without even bothering with the main story, which is great, but not that great. Since completing Skyrim’s main story a number of years ago, I have twice started up new games in vain attempts to see how the story might go for characters of different races and classes, but neither attempt has been very productive. The problem is, as with so many open world games, I like the theory of questing and running amok, but I don’t always care for the practice. Frankly, I can be horribly flaky with big games. Sometimes these games and I come together like butter on toast; other times I have to push myself to the finish line at the expense of a bajillion sidequests and my sanity. And sometime, things just don’t click. And things haven’t clicked with me and Skyrim on my second and third attempts.

All that said, we got Oblivion during a Steam sale a year or two ago. The game’s just been sitting in our library. I have no clue as to when I might get around to it. There simply so much else to play (and I’m trying very hard to get into a more disciplined style of play, rather than flitting about from one game to the next), and neither Oblivion nor medieval-style horseplay are much on my radar at the moment.

Also, I understand that the Elder Scrolls third game, Morrowind, is quite enjoyable. Mr. Murf of Murf Versus wrote a wonderful post here on the game (please do click and read): Alas Vvardenfall.

So I guess the answer to my own question is sure, if I had the time someday, I wouldn’t mind playing through other games in the series, particularly Oblivion and Morrowind. No game is without its issues, and Skyrim is no exception, but from what I know, Bethesda has done a very good job crafting The Elder Scrolls universe. Shoot, in Skyrim alone the game map is littered with plenty of discoveries and secrets, as well as enough variation to keep one entertained for a good long time. And that variation goes for the playable characters as well, which are superrifically customizable, and the NPCs which all seem more than happy to interact in their own unique ways.  Skyrim was, and is, a solid game with a loyal fanbase. (And I’m sure the same can be said for its earlier titles. I’m less sure about Elder Scrolls Online, as well as its newest title, Legends.) It’ll likely keep many players busy for years to come.

And with that, how’s ’bout them other questions?

Have I played “The Elder Scrolls?”
Only Skyrim.

If yes, do I consider it a “must” and why?
I’d recommend at least dabbling somewhere in the series. I honestly don’t know if Skyrim is the most easily accessible of the bunch, but it’s not too difficult to get into…if you allow yourself get into it, that is.

If no, do I want to play the game before I die?
Since my answer to the previous question is kinda wishy-washy, I’ll repeat that yeah, I think it’s be a worthwhile effort to try out other games in the series someday.


If there is a game, and yet again, another series of games that’s as far from The Elder Scrolls as Donald Trump is from humility, it’s probably The Secret of Monkey Island.

tsomi7

LucasArts and its games didn’t hit my radar until 1993 with Sam and Max Hit the Road, a brilliantly enjoyable game that, ahem, I played through over on United We Game’s YouTube channel, ahem. From there I discovered and played an earlier LucasArts game, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. And that was about all the LucasArts-ing I placed under my gaming belt.  It was only later on in life that I came to know more about the studio and its titles, so shame on me considering that I held a Lucas film fetish for most of my formative years.

Why didn’t I jump on Guybrush Threepwood and the Ghost Pirate LeChuck (a couple famous Monkey Island characters, if you didn’t already know) then during the long-past 1990s? Well, as I’ve not doubt said somewhere before, I didn’t have my own computer then, and I was therefore more into console gaming, lightly if at all. Pointing and clicking in a game fell far from my gaming tree. (And if it ever did come to mind, I likely only thought about Myst, which I lusted after for several years for no good reason.)

Long story short…not that there’s any story to tell, really…I do want to play The Secret of Monkey Island now, but that desire really only popped up in very recent times; in fact, as recent as early last year when the remaster of Grim Fandango was released. The thought process was: “hey, I remember that game. It was supposed to be pretty good. What other LucasArts games did I miss that are now available?” And that opened up the floodgates.

I know now that The Secret of Monkey Island is a seminal point-and-click adventure game that any seasoned pointer-and-clicker would recommend to anyone wishing to get into the genre. I already possess an undying affection for Sam and Max, and I simply adore the spritely animated art stylings of these older LucasArts games, so the seeds of wanting to experience what LucasArts offered before them (outside of Fate of Atlantis) have already germinated quite successfully. So my answers to the questions, without question, are:

Have I played The Secret of Monkey Island?
No.

If yes, do I consider it a “must” and why?
N/A

If no, do I want to play the game before I die?
Yes. For me, it’s a “must.”

15 thoughts on “Play or Pass: The Elder Scrolls and The Secret of Monkey Island”

  1. Having to choose between Skyrim and Monkey Island is like choosing between a great entree and a great dessert. I love them both and want them both in my meal. That said, the Monkey Island games are dated now and Skyrim is only slightly behind the state of the art. I’m waiting for Ron Gilbert’s new LucasArts style game, Thimbleweed Park. (Google it. Worth the effort.) And for Skywind. And I’ll plug my game blog, Sublime Confusion, where I’m starting to talk about both. (I just discussed the LucasArts games and will shortly move on to open-world RPGs.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thimbleweed Park sounds vaguely familiar, as if I had passed it over online somewhere. I will certainly do some searching, because anything inspired by LucasArts is alright by me. (As well as this “Skywind…?” Is someone combining Skyrim and Morrowind?) At some point, I really need to get away from some of the larger games I’ve been playing in order to turn my attention to Monkey Island and other similar fare that’s hogging my backlog! But as you say, greatness among games is sometimes just a matter of degrees. These two games excel within their own different spheres. Choosing one over the other all depends on just what you’re hungry for at any given moment.

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  2. Skyrim was my entry point into the Elder Scrolls series as well. I sunk so much time into that game, and I don’t think I was bored druing any of it! It actually got me to go and try Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I thought I would at least like it since I liked Skyrim, but that wasn’t quite the case. Compared to Skyrim, Oblivion definitely felt old in both visuals and gameplay. I think it would have been better if I had played Oblivion first, cause Skyrim kinda spoiled me too much to enjoy Oblivion.

    That said I’d still like to try Morrowind, since it’s got a very interesting setting and was the game to bring the Elder Scrolls into the wider gaming consciousness. There’s actually a Skyrim mod that’s been in production for a few years called “Skywind” that would basically be an updated version of Morrowind (updated visuals, updated gameplay), so I’m thinking I’ll pick up the game on PC once that mod is done. I want to explore the world, but I don’t want to deal with the dated gameplay, you know?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I get it. Though I’m going through a kick of playing older games, it’s tough to get past the way some of these games look. Most games of the past couple years look so phenomenally different than they did just seven or eight years ago. I say that if the gameplay is there, then graphics usually don’t matter. But bad gameplay and bad graphics can totally bring down a game.

      That “Skywind” mod sounds very cool! I’de very much like to play the older Elder Scrolls game myself, and that sounds like an interesting compromise. Part of me wants to play through the games as is, just to understand what it might have been like playing them when they were new. But if something comes along that allows for a similar experience with a better look (kind of like playing Pokemon LeafGreen over the original Red and Blue titles), then I’m all for it!

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  3. I’ve played and finished the first two Monkey Island games and for me they’re a must play. Love the settings, the humor and even the controversial ending of the second one. Still have to play The Curse of Monkey Island (only tried the demo, it was during my first steps with PC gaming) and Escape from Monkey Island. I played Telltale’s Tales of Monkey Island, wasn’t bad, but far from originals.

    And about The Elder Scrolls, I enjoyed but never finished Oblivion, and I started (bought it because if was really cheap) Skyrim, but didn’t go to far.

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    1. All these good words are really making me want to get to the Monkey Island games now! (We’ll, after I finish everything else I’ve already started, haha.) I didn’t know that Telltale made a Monkey Island game. Interesting. Even if it wasn’t as great as the original games, I’m curious now to check out some videos of it.

      We picked up Oblivion completly on a whim, and because it was cheap, too! Don’t know what we were thinking, except that it seemed like a good idea at the time. I’d certainly like to play it at least a little, just to see what the Elder Scrolls universe was like before Skyrim took over.

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    1. Glad I’m not alone! Like with most point-and-click games, I just have to find a good few hours where I can really focus on just the game. It’ll happen someday, I swear. 🙂

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  4. I remember sinking dozens of hours into Skyrim and then eventually I just moved onto the next game. Even though I knew I had barely scratched the surface of that game, I started another and I keep telling myself I need to return to it. Also, The Secret of Monkey Island is hands down one of my favourite games ever. The dialogue was just so funny and the puzzles were a blast to figure out. I highly recommend you play it sooner rather than later 😀

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    1. I have both Monkey Island games sitting in my Steam library…guess I’ll have to bump them up in the roster. ☺ No really, I know I should!

      Of course, after writing this I’ve been tempted to return to Skyrim. Even if just to tool around. It’s a fun, massive world in which to play.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know what you mean.. reading this made me feel like going back to Skyrim as well. Even though I put so many hours into it, I barely managed to scrape the surface of that game. 😛

        BTW, are you blogging with any websites or networks at the moment? I work over at Now Loading and we’re always looking for more great gaming writers to join and share their content with us. If you were interested in the idea of reaching out to a new audience in addition to WordPress users, there’s more info and my contact details on my blog 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I do write for another site, United We Game (wegameunited.com), but I appreciate the offer. I’ll still check out your blog and Now Loading — always looking for new stuff to read and new people to follow!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! The Monkey Island games are ones that I do think everyone should really try – myself included! They are perfect examples of what LucasArts was one all about: creating compelling and uncomplicated games that made you care about the characters, no matter if you were laughing with or at them.

      I’m honestly not sure what I think about Skyrim anymore! I really, really enjoyed playing it, but it was a challenge to get started. It took me forever to get through that first playthrough. But it was rewarding once things got off the ground — literally and figuratively! (Cause of the dragons, y’know.)

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