Secret of Monkey Island!

Kicking off my Romance in Video Games blogging with the extreme comedy end of the spectrum, here, and the Elaine Marley/Guybrush Threepwood romance definitely pulls some things you can’t get away with in anything more serious. Like confessing your love ten minutes after you meet someone: in a more serious game, I would have called shenanigans, but this is right after you use a staple remover on a giant angry yak. Plus, the dialogue involves the phrase “plunder bunny”, and that does not fail to crack me up.

So, yeah, played for comedy–but it’s an example of how to do extremely comedic romance right.

For one thing, the comedy doesn’t revolve around the supposed differences between men and women. There is, in fact, a total absence of the stale-and-offensive Mars/Venus “humor” that frequently comes into play when dealing with heterosexual romance. It would have been relatively easy to make jokes about shopping or commitment, and nobody does. Thank God.

Relatedly, Elaine Marley? Is *awesome*. She’s witty, she’s smart, and she has a life prior to, and outside of, Guybrush. (In fact, the Wiki entry on her says that she was originally going to be a much more ruthless character, and male, and not a romantic interest at all–and I think it really does help to create a character gender-neutral and outside of romance plot at first, a theory I’ll go into in more detail later.) I want to be her when I grow up.

Second on “how to do comedy romance right” is the fact that Monkey Island doesn’t do the stalking-is-funny-and-sweet thing. Guybrush doesn’t fall for Elaine and then follow her around until she loves him. (Yeah, he does break into her house, but that’s not romantically-motivated: it also, from the dialogue, seems to be a wacky Melee Island tradition.) The guy who tries that is the (hilarious undead) villain. It might seem weird to quibble about this in light of the aforementioned love-at-first-sight dialogue, but…I’m all right with comedy presenting situations that don’t happen; I’m less okay with presenting as awesome things that actually happen and are creepy when they do.

It’s really, really easy to do comedic romance badly; it’s really, really easy to do video game romance badly. (And there will be examples of the latter on this blog, ohh yes.) Monkey Island does video game comedy romance well, and for this it deserves some sort of shiny medal. Or at least ectoplasmic fireworks.

Soon: Dragon Age, Shadow Hearts, and the October Silent Hill WTFStravaganza.

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About isabelcooper

I'm Izzy. I write stuff: mostly vaguely fantasy stuff, and most notably the following books: Hickey of the Beast, published March 2011 by Candlemark and Gleam No Proper Lady, published September 2011 by Sourcebooks Lessons After Dark, forthcoming in April 2012 from Sourcebooks I also like video games, ballroom dancing, and various geeky hobbies like LARPing. I have been known to voluntarily purchase and eat circus peanuts. Like, a whole bag at once.
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9 Responses to Secret of Monkey Island!

  1. Abby says:

    I think it really does help to create a character gender-neutral and outside of romance plot at first

    A million times word. See also: Ellen Ripley, Mass Effect’s Commander Shepard, etc. I’ll look forward to hearing you go into this in more detail.

    • isabelcooper says:

      Oh yeah. I’ll be tackling that after Dragon Age, I think, since it’s one of the cooler aspects of the Ambiguous Protaganoid.

      Also, it alarms me a little that I equate “originally male” (a la Ripley and Marley) with “created gender-neutral” until I think about it. Pervasiveness of sexist society, too little caffeine, or both?

      • No, it’s because when most people say “this character was originally male” they mean “I made this character an Actual Person, and then later on I decided it could be female.”

        I dare you to find me a counter-example 😉

  2. Kate says:

    There is something horribly wrong with me that I have not played this game yet, and now I really really more than ever need to fix that.

    • isabelcooper says:

      It’s *awesome*. And available on Steam for something like five bucks. (Although I liked it better with the original art and no voice acting–I read fast enough that I often end up reading the subtitles before the voice actors get two words in, and then tapping my fingers impatiently–but hey.)

  3. isabelcooper says:

    @Julie Paradox: No, I think you’re right about that one. I’d *love* to find a counter-example, because…well, that would be awesome…but I don’t think many exist. Alas.

    Also, I’m not sure why WordPress doesn’t let me reply after a thread hits more than three posts, but there we are.

    • Jesse says:

      Izzy –
      The settings for setting up how deep the threads in WP is under Settings > Discussions > Other comment settings. Well, in WP3 at least.

      Reading more soon,
      Jesse

  4. Melle says:

    Like confessing your love ten minutes after you meet someone: in a more serious game, I would have called shenanigans, but this is right after you use a staple remover on a giant angry yak. Plus, the dialogue involves the phrase “plunder bunny”, and that does not fail to crack me up.

    … Why am I not playing this game right now, dammit? Oh, right, money. *adds to Amazon wishlist*

    It might seem weird to quibble about this in light of the aforementioned love-at-first-sight dialogue, but … I’m all right with comedy presenting situations that don’t happen; I’m less okay with presenting as awesome things that actually happen and are creepy when they do.

    See: “romantic” “comedies”, and why they’re neither romantic nor in fact actually funny.

    • isabelcooper says:

      Seriously. I have a list of modern rom-coms that I can sit through without shrieking at one or more of the characters. It’s a pretty short list.

      Also, I totally recommend Monkey Island, and all its sequels. (Although the movement system in the fourth game buuuuugs me.)

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