The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition Cover
Platforms Windows, iPhone, Xbox 360
Recommended? Yeah!
Buy from Amazon

Back in the day, Lucasarts made good games. They made point-and-click adventures, some of the best ever. One thing their adventures were famous for was an odd sense of humor.

Secret of Monkey Island was Lucasarts' first humor game. I've always wanted to play it, so when they repackaged it with new graphics and voice acting, I jumped on it.

I played the first hour for review, and well, I couldn't stop playing: I beat the whole game in the next couple of days. I think that says enough about the first hour experience. Here's the full review.

Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is a repackaging of Secret of Monkey Island. It follows the story of Guybrush Threepwood, a young man who wants nothing more than to sail the high seas, pillaging and plundering, looting and.... well he wants to be a pirate. He starts off on Melee Island to talk to the Pirate Leaders in order to join them. They set him off with three seemingly impossible tasks to accomplish. Along the way he might just fall in love, confront a ghost pirate, and slide down a cable on a rubber-chicken-with-a-pulley-in-the-middle.

The game is divided into four acts. The first is the longest and happens to be my favorite, the second is very short, the third is of medium length and the fourth is basically just the final confrontation, I guess what you'd call the boss.

There are several aspects to the humor of this game, including witty repartee, subtle humor, slapstick gags, twisted logic, and even a little dark humor. It's slightly above the level of gross-out humor and toilet gags. This mix of humor keeps it from getting boring.

As far as the new graphics go, although personally I'm not a fan of the new character styles, it does look great. It's in high-definition, so if your monitor is big enough you'll see great detail in the backgrounds and characters. For those of you who have played the original, they kept all the same animations, including the wacky lip-syncing and Stan the used-boat salesman's spastic mannerisms.

One of the new features is voice acting, using the voice actors that played their respective characters in the later Monkey Island games. To me the voice acting adds a lot. Hearing the lines spoken is funnier than just reading them most of the time, although every now and then the way I imagined the line was slightly funnier than the way the actor delivered it.

The player can switch back and forth between the two graphical styles (original graphics and Special Edition graphics) at any point in the game, just by pressing F10. This allows purists to enjoy it the way they first experienced it, or newcomers to compare it and see how far it's come. The voice acting is also lost when viewing the original graphics. I appreciate the authenticity, but I would have liked the option to view the old graphics and hear the voice acting at the same time.

Secret Of Monkey Island Special Edition Before After

For those of you reluctant to put the time into a point-and-click adventure, the Special Edition features a hint system to speed things up. If you're clueless, you can press the hint key and a vague idea will appear. Press the key again, and it'll give you more direct advice. Finally, press it a third time and it will tell you exactly what to do or display an arrow pointing where you need to go. Even though this feels a little cheap at times, it definitely kept the game moving. I usually tried to avoid using the hints unless I was completely stuck, and often when I did it told me to do something of which I would never have thought otherwise.

And now for my favorite part: insult sword-fighting. This part of the game features a combat based around hurling insults at your opponent. If your enemy insults you, they advance. However, if you have a snappy comeback, you advance and get the chance to insult them. Whoever hurls the final insult wins the battle. It's possibly the best combat engine ever devised.


Minutes to Action: 2

Favorite Thing: Great sense of humor.

Least Favorite Thing: A lot of game design innovations have happened since this game first came out.

Graphics: The new character style isn't my favorite, but it looks sharp and the ability to switch back and forth to the original style is awesome.

Sound: The original didn't have much sound, but new music has been written and voice over work has been done. It's mostly great, but occasionally I think the actors misinterpreted the tone of the original line.

Story: Point-and-click adventures are great venues for storytelling, and as such this game weaves a story in a way no movie or book ever could.

Fun: It was very much fun.

Recommend: I think everyone should play this game. The hint system makes it accessible even to those who don't enjoy (or don't have the time for) the mind-bending puzzles. It's only ten bucks on Steam, so if you have a PC, buy this piece of gaming history!

Secret Of Monkey Island Special Edition Guybrush Elaine