A tribute/parody/homage of/to The Secret of Monkey Island. Fans who loved the original LucasArts game will get all the references and be able to overlook all the grammatical and programming issues. Others may find the game more confusing than the island itself.
While the official goal of The Secret of Vegibal Island is to unravel the mystery of the island, a secondary and personal goal of mine was to determine what exactly a “vegibal” is. My original assumption (that “vegibal” is slang for “vegetable”) was disproved, I think, when I encountered, examined, and ultimately conversed with the vegibal late in the game. The vegibal “reminds you talking to that silly guy at the tiki bar that looked like a tiki bar,” and “carries nothing.” If you had planned to look to the internet for the answer, I’ll warn you up front — Google autocorrects “vegibal” to “vaginal,” so now my Google Image cache is completely pink and I have a meeting with my boss on Monday.
An introductory teaser written by the author references “a famous point-and-click adventure” and “revisiting that island,” and if you needed even more clues, the protagonist’s first name is “Buyshrug” — an anagram of Guybrush (as in Threepwood), the protagonist of The Secret of Monkey Island. This game, The Secret of Vegibal Island, is a little bit tribute and a little bit parody of the original LucasArts game.
The game begins in the “real” world with Buyshrug on the wrong side of a locked gate that leads to a vacation resort. Accessing the gate requires possessing three separate wristbands, obtained by completing three separate tasks. Of the three tasks only one was challenging; fortunately, the game gives enough in-text verb/noun hints to nudge players towards the slightly surreal solution. Moments after I had waltzed through the gate, kicked back in a lounge chair and began sipping on a White Russian, poor Buyshrug was hit in the head by an errant cannonball and woke up a prisoner aboard a pirate ship. Escaping your locked quarters leads to the second half of the game, which involves exploring and ultimately learning the secret of Vegibal Island.
If you aren’t familiar with The Secret of Monkey Island, most of the characters, objects, and jokes in this game will be lost on you. I won’t lie — the last time I played the original Monkey Island, I had to reconfigure my AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files to free up conventional RAM so my sound card and CD-ROM drive would work at the same time. If it’s been that long for you and random references to bananas, manatees, and leather jackets don’t elicit an immediate chuckle, this isn’t your game. Many characters such as the Voodoo Lady and the three-headed monkey from the original Monkey Island series make appearances here, and some scenes (like the giant gorilla head puzzle) are lifted directly from The Secret of Monkey Island and transcribed into parser format.
Because I haven’t played the original in so long, there were a lot of objects I wasn’t sure what to do with and a few puzzles I left unsolved. Toward the end of the game I had 35 objects in my inventory, two-thirds of which I never used (including, among other things, thirteen large pigs). Along the way I encountered multiple things that seemed like puzzles, but didn’t seem to affect the outcome of the game. Because the game has no score, it was impossible for me to tell how many tasks I left unaccomplished.
It is obvious that English is not the author’s first language, so there’s no sense in beating up the game’s bountiful grammatical quirks. Some of the text is so awkward that it feels like it was translated using automated tools, except there are so many misspelled words that I am pretty sure it was done manually. None of this makes the game or puzzles unplayable, but several times I was unsure what exactly the author was trying to convey.
Along those same lines, the underlying game engine only performs the bare minimum when it comes to logic and error checking. Default parser rules prevent you from eating lounge chairs or picking up people, but I was able to pick up a filled waterbed mattress and store it in my backpack (along with a dozen pigs). Gamers who stick to the intended script may or may not encounter such oddities, but advanced (or simply curious) players will quickly be able to manipulate the laws of physics in ways that don’t make sense.
The Secret of Vegibal Island is a fun little homage to The Secret of Monkey Island, with additional references to Disney (and at least one SCUMMVM joke that made me laugh) thrown in for good measure. The game’s estimated two-hour play time includes solving every single puzzle; those looking to blast through the game and discover the secret of both Vegibal and Monkey Islands in the shortest amount of time possible should be able to do so in less than an hour.
2 thoughts on “The Secret of Vegibal Island by Ralf Tauscher (2019)”
I think vegibal is probably a portmanteau of vegetarian and cannibal.
Woah, did Petter just reveal the TRUE Secret of Vegibal Island?! You heard it here first!
I’m generally reluctant to play games that are clear knockoffs of other games. Sometimes it makes perfect sense to redo a game so it’s accessible to users on different platforms (take Freeciv or any of the innumerable versions of Adventure for example). Sometimes a remake is just so crazy and so unlike the original that it needs to exist like the ZZT version of Rippled Flesh or DoomRL. I don’t completely hate the idea of remaking The Secret of Monkey Island as a parser game since we all know parser games are way better than point-and-click adventures as a general rule, but the problem is TSOM is one of the very best point-and-click adventure games ever. Any homage or parody just isn’t very likely to measure up.