The Secret of Monkey Island | The Game That Defines Later Levels

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We know we’re mixing games in the franchise, but we cannot get over the goodness of this ambient mix from Monkey Island 2



The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 


Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Happy Saturday, and welcome to day three of The Games That Define Us! We have two posts this weekend you simply can’t miss! Tomorrow I’ll be unveiling my piece for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 — one I’ve worked very hard on and am excited for you all to read.

But that’s for another day, literally. Today we’ll be visited by a legend in our local blogosphere. Give a big hand to Kim of Later Levels! She is one of the most stand-out people I know, and has done so much to help Normal Happenings get off the ground.

You can’t go wrong with her writing either. She knows how to get right to the heart of the matter, and you always come out the other side of her posts feeling like a better, more informed person. All of her posts are excellent, but here are some recent suggestions you should consider exploring after finishing up here:

She’ll be your tour guide today as we seek The Secret of Monkey Island, so let’s get adventuring! We hope you treasure this chapter of The Games The Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings




Kim @ Later Levels
Twitter: @LaterLevels

For all the aspiring pirates

Game: The Secret of Monkey Island
System: Amiga 500
Release Date: October 15, 1990

1P Start

I’d never heard of The Secret of Monkey Island, but after booting it up on the Amiga, I was amazed. It was then that I realized fantastic worlds I thought only existed inside of books could be brought to life through a video game.


We all have that one Christmas present we remember receiving as a child, and mine was an Amiga 500. After I’d excitedly unwrapped the box, my dad told me to think about what I wanted to try first while he figured out how to hook it up to the television. This was obviously a very big decision for a little kid, so I carefully made my selection: it was the floppy disks which came with a manual depicting a mysterious skull, fierce-looking pirates and a young blonde hero which caught my attention.

I’d never heard of The Secret of Monkey Island, but after booting it up on the Amiga, I was amazed. It was then that I realised fantastic worlds I thought only existed inside of books could be brought to life through a video game. My dad and I were wrapped up for hours, battling dangerous-looking yaks in the Governor’s mansion and insulting swashbucklers by telling them they fought like cows; and I felt extremely proud of myself for reaching the solution to the grog-mug challenge before the grown-ups.

That was the start of a lifelong love-affair with the adventure genre and a childhood crush on Guybrush Threepwood. I’d played other games on the Commodore 64 and NES, but nothing so story- or puzzle-focused; and that title became the first I played for myself, all the way through to the end and without much help. It influenced me as a gamer and, even though I now enjoy a variety of releases, it’s point-and-clicks that I always return to because they hold a special place in my heart.

After that Christmas I went on to play as many adventures as I could, eagerly working my way through Simon the Sorcerer, Myst and The Dig. I eventually had the chance to play a game I was inspired to try after meeting Cobb in the Scumm Bar back on Mêlée Island and questioning him about his ‘Ask me about Loom’ badge. I love references in titles like this; a subtle nod can hold intrigue for players and direct them towards releases they may not have otherwise have found.

During a charity marathon stream a couple of years ago, I played The Secret of Monkey Island very early in the morning and my stepson joined me once he’d woken up. He was then about the same age I had been when I’d received my Amiga and I’d never thought to show the game to him, seeing as it didn’t contain anywhere near enough explosions for his tastes. Much to my surprise, however, he was totally captivated – and even ended up taking over the last part of my shift.

That’s the real secret of Monkey Island. It can show a young girl that magical worlds exist in pixels and give a dad an opportunity to spend some quality time with his daughter. It can explain to a ten-year old stepson that video games don’t always have to be about weapons and violence, and can even contain a story with humour. It can give a blogger an adoration for adventures and the chance to meet amazing people in this community. And it proves that all you really need to defeat an evil zombie pirate is a bottle of root beer.

adventure map

WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 


This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative bloggers. Help us with the resources to make even greater collaborations in the future. We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about finding optimism in everyday life. Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place.become_a_patron_button

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Tetris Haunts My Dreams

Better With Audio!

Music No. 10 | Poyo Poyo Tetris

This is my favorite version of the Tetris theme, and it’s the one that gets stuck as the blocks keep falling from the top of my brain. It just keeps repeating… forever.

Q. Woah woah woah, what happened to my Sleeping at Last music?
I’m sorry, but it just wasn’t working quite as well as I’d hoped. This challenge drifted away from the reflective ruminations I had initially planned, so I’ll be going back and retrofitting the previous posts with different tracks. Except for the Animal Crossing one — that was great!

There’s something you should know about me: I’m probably way better than you at Tetris. I think of all the competitive video games in all the land, from the fighters of Super Smash Bros. to the survivalism of Fortnite, I consider myself best at the humble puzzle games. Maybe it was all the years of playing Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine as a kid. And of all the puzzle games, I’m best at Tetris. Don’t believe me? Ask for my Switch friend code in the comments, and we shall duel in:

Poyo Poyo Tetris | Switch

Continue reading “Tetris Haunts My Dreams”

How is Fi NOT the Most Annoying Character in Games?

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“Pacific” | Atlas: Year One · Sleeping at Last

Each post this month is set to a different track from this amazing album. “Pacific” is purely here to keep us all calm while we have flashbacks about these annoying characters.

Who’s the most annoying character in all of video games?

I initially was exploring alternative options to the obvious, including Mr. Resetti from Animal Crossing, Issun from Okami, and, of all things, the Advisor from Sim Theme Park (US) / Theme Park World (EU). Other contenders included Amy Rose from Sonic the Hedgehog, who is awesome, as well as Big the Cat, who is awesome in his own way.

None of them, however, captured the spirit of “annoying” as much as “amusing.” However, there is one character in all of video games who is so notoriously annoying, so frustratingly irritating, she even overcame my instinct to be slightly-but-not-too-different than everyone else.

Fi | The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Continue reading “How is Fi NOT the Most Annoying Character in Games?”

The Unexpected Collision of Media and Identity

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“The Projectionist” | Atlas: Year One · Sleeping at Last

Each post this month is set to a different track from this amazing album. “The Projectionist” is about the bravery and insight that can come from fictional works.

Though truth is heavier than fiction
Gravity lifts as the projectionist rolls tape
And it makes us brave again

I recognize that, compared to the rest of the world, the American education system can be a maze of confusion. If you’re part of my amazing European audience, you may want to consult this handy Wikipedia article in another tab if you have any terminology questions. Also, you can always ask me any questions in the comments.

I’d like to take a break from talking about specific games to have a conversation about one particular topic — recommending media such as games, movies, and music to friends. I thought we might do something a little different and reminisce. For day 6 of her 30-day video game challenge, Megan asks what game recommendation I’ve tried this year. What she didn’t realize is that’s a bit of a loaded question. Believe it or not, this can be a challenging, highly personal activity worth of the same self-contemplation rendered of the more serious topics in our lives. Continue reading “The Unexpected Collision of Media and Identity”

Just a Boy, Nothing More

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“East” | Atlas: Year One · Sleeping at Last

Each post this month is set to a different track from this amazing album. “East” is a contemplation of the mindset of a child and what the world turns the into as an adult.

I set out to rule the world
With only a paper shield, and a wooden sword
No mountain destined in my way
Even the oceans tremble in my way

I make no secret of the fact that Link from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is my favorite character in all of video games. He’s even the character I main in Super Smash Bros. On a superficial level, that may come as a surprise. He’s just a young kid — a very awkward, expressive kid at that. I’ll admit I was shocked in my moment of self-discovery about my favorite video game character. The more I think about it, however, the more it makes sense.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker | GCN

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that Wind Waker is a game for kids. By featuring a protagonist so young and applying the notoriously cartoony cell-shaded graphical style, the designers did an incredibly effective job of hiding the mature and nuanced story within. Simply put, this is a game with themes squarely directed at grown-ups. Continue reading “Just a Boy, Nothing More”

The Park Bench on Main Street

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“I’ll Keep You Safe” | Atlas: Year One · Sleeping at Last


Each post this month is set to a different track from this amazing album. “I’ll Keep You Safe” is about taking comfort in the world around you.

The sound of the branches breaking under your feet
The smell of the fall and the burning of leaves
The bitterness of winter or the sweetness of spring
You are an artist, and your heart is your masterpeice

Every Animal Crossing player suffers the inevitable fate of losing interest in or getting too busy for their town. When that happens to me, I always feel the need to write a letter of apology to Isabelle. I think it is time, however, to write a letter not of sorrow but of reflection.

Animal Crossing Continue reading “The Park Bench on Main Street”

It’s Only an 8-Bit Moon

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“Overture” | Atlas: Year One · Sleeping at Last

Each post this month is set to a different track from this amazing album. “Overture” is about the birth of the adventure of life.

We claim our lands
We tame our seas
We carve our names
On the surface of history

It’s Only an 8-Bit Moon

One of my favorite pieces of imagery in this gorgeous game is the moon, it’s gradient yellows hanging large at the end of a long journey. I’m not sure why, but it symbolizes more than anything else of the first video game adventure I ever had.

Kirby’s Adventure NES 

Despite the retro gloriousness of accomplishing that level of detail on 8-bit hardware, nothing compares to the real thing. When I was a child, maybe nine or ten years old, I remember a prolific fall night with a chill in the air. I was visiting my grandparent’s farm in rural Georgia, U.S., and I had walked outside to see the biggest moon hovering there above the fields. It must have been the size of a quarter held right in front of me. I could count every crater on its surface, and it was so bright that the light actually reflected off the crops which were ready to be harvested. It was on that night I felt an inspiration that to this day has never gone away. Continue reading “It’s Only an 8-Bit Moon”

Five Ways to be an Adventurous Spirit

We’re walking around in a world that is distinctly not designed for adventures. Technology has allowed pretty much every mile of land to be tracked and cataloged, and humans inhabit pretty much every livable quadrant of the map. If you’ve ever played an open world adventure game like Skyrim, Dragon Age, or Zelda, you’ll quickly realize that that’s not how life works anymore. Frontiersmen (and women) no longer risk their lives to try to find that next undiscovered cave, mountain, or creature. Now, you’ll be hard pressed to find a town with less than a thousand people. The new normal is counting up how many states you’ve been to, and only the bravest routinely travel to other countries. The world has become too small. The act of adventure has been replaced with the spirit of adventure. Continue reading “Five Ways to be an Adventurous Spirit”