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Playful Pirates

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Lucasfilm Games does an excellent job with “The Secret of Monkey Island.” Much of the unrealized promise of the company’s earlier “Loom” is delivered in this charming, witty adventure game.

Young Guybrush Threepwood wants to be a pirate. Arriving at the pirate haven of Melee Island, Guybrush finds plenty of helpful suggestions and guidance. Everybody he meets seems to be a pirate (former or current) who is willing to tell him almost anything he wants to know. Amazingly, none of these bloodthirsty gentlemen seem the least bit annoyed by this post-adolescent pest. Ah, a mystery. . . .

Our young hero sets out to prove himself worthy to join this pack of scurvy knaves by passing Three Trials. Along the way, Guybrush meets some entertaining supporting characters who not only further the action but give the story some real dimension. What could be more fun than wimpy pirates, lovesick ghosts, bickering circus performers and deadly poodles?

“Monkey Island” happily builds on a Lucasfilm design philosophy that is refreshing in the adventure arena. In the interest of fun, solving the puzzles, playing the game, and having a good time are more important than trying to provide the ultimate stumper or killing our hero every time he turns around. In addition, Lucasfilm has done a lot to raise character movement to a fine art. A simple “point and click” method takes away the drudgery of maneuvering through a scene. The frustration of taking a deadly misstep is replaced with the ability to “point” your cursor at your destination and “clicking” your mouse. Your character glides gracefully while you plan your next move.

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MONKEY ISLAND

Rating: ****

IBM and compatibles; 640K RAM; hard drive recommended. List $59.95.

Computer games are rated on a five-star system, from one star for poor to five for excellent.

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