From a short essay by elTee on Mixnmojo considering “The Secret of Monkey Island” as a satire of and rebuke to Sierra’s adventure games, a major shift in the genre that would signal the end of the (strangely death-obsessed) Quest series:
Did any of you ever play Police Quest? It was an interesting game because it actually expected you to act like a real police officer. I didn’t realise that cops had to perform a 360-degree vehicle check every morning (duh) and so when I drove away, I got a flat tyre outside of the station. If that were LucasFilm Games’ The Secret of The Death Angel, I’d probably be able to get out of the car and change the tyre, but not so in Police Quest with its grimly predictable ‘game over’. But in a weird way, it was more annoying when I finally managed to get that first day at work under my belt and it was time to get changed and head home. There’s a locker room, and I realise I have no idea which one of the lockers is mine – and then I further realise that the game isn’t going to help me out because of the logic that… the character knows which locker it is.
The Secret of Monkey Island throws that kind of crap out from the opening line. Guybrush doesn’t know shit, and that puts him and us on a level playing field. It’s subtle and incredibly liberating.
Very true. You could learn a lot about storytelling and game writing, good and bad, by studying the early adventure games.