This is where the remake, The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, comes in and it falls to me to see if Monkey Island is still a good game by today's standards.
Diving in for the first time is great - it starts off showing the old school loading image, then gently overlays and replaces it with the new graphics.
The plot of the game is based around a lanky lad with pale skin and long blonde hair who looks like he could be a sterotypical viking if only he wasn't so scrawny. Scooting around Melee Island to do the quests is plenty fun, with the random twists and turns of any typical adventure game thrown in the mix - although nothing too convoluted to stop a player progressing. The writing is certainly continually humorous, but only rarely laugh out loud funny if I'm totally honest. Despite the graphical overhaul the animation is still pretty rough in the remastered mode, to the point where it looks just awkward in some scenes because the characters don't move their hands when they talk or have any decent idle animations. Characters who don't move their arms when they talk look fine when everything is all pixellated and indistinct, but when the image is stylised and crisp, it falls into the uncanny valley a tiny bit. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition faithfully re-imagines the internationally-acclaimed classic game (originally released in 1990) for original and new audiences alike. The conversion is accurate enough, there are just so many gaps and empty areas, and it all just seems so lifeless. The other major addition are the excellent Curse of Monkey Island voice actors reading the same lines from the original game.
For what it’s worth, the voice acting is more welcome than the graphical upgrade, especially since casting went to the effort to nab all the original actors, but there’s more good, and bad news.
Though I’m ragging on the “Special Edition” part of the title quite a bit, don’t forget the fact that The Secret of Monkey Island is still a very good point and click adventure game at heart. There’s two major complaints about the point and click genre, the first is pixel hunting for obscure little items, the Monkey Island series has never had an issue with this, in my opinion.
Finally, there’s the awkward, old school SCUMM interface that makes a chore out of item management and interaction. I don't mean that in the sense that my facial hair isn't fluffy like a kitten, but more that I'm not a big Monkey Island fan-boy.
Remakes are often regarded as being the spawn of Satan of course, as they bastardise the original to conform to new trends in gameplay.
His name is Guybrush Threepwood and at the start of the game all we know about him is that he has come to Melee Island, deep in the Carribbean, because he wants to be a pirate. The puzzles aren't hugely taxing (though Joe would claim otherwise, having taken five years to finish the game the first time around) and see you getting involved in all sorts of escapades on your pirate-y endeavour.


While I thought the voice acting was pretty well done too, it's likely that fans of the original will likely claim otherwise and fall in to the the-book-is-better-than-the-film syndrome. It feels like Lucasarts is trying to take the remake far enough to interest fans of the original game, but doesn't want to risk losing them by moving too far from the source. The game is brought into the modern era with an all new re-imagined contemporary art style, a re-mastered musical score, full voiceover, and an in-depth hint system to help players through the gamea€™s side-splitting puzzles. You learn how Guybrush and Elane meet for the first time and get yourself into great adventures in a graphic who fits into the time. It was probably like a game of connect the dots, upgrading the sprites to look good in high definition, but it just doesn’t come together.
The Secret of Monkey Island lost all of its visual charm in the high defining process, and it’s a lesser game for that. While they sounded great in the third game that was written for actors, they honestly sound like they’re phoning it in for the Special Edition.
The good is that you can switch to the game’s original graphics at the press of a button, the bad is that the voice acting is turned off, too.
The second is that the puzzles are so obscure or senseless it would be nearly impossible to solve without a guide or walkthrough, Monkey Island generally doesn’t fall into this trap, either. The first half of the game is well structured, with our hero Guybrush Threepwood undertaking three tasks (map, ship, crew) to get off the opening island and rescue the governess Elaine. The Special Edition isn’t that much better, forcing you to either seemingly scroll randomly through the verbs with your mouse wheel, or memorize ten different key shortcuts spread across the keyboard. Fortunately, you don't have to grab a Wiimote and dance around like an idiot, or spend obscene amounts of cash on a new graphics card for this. It's like they do on CSI - magically increasing the resolution and adding pixel fidelity on an image - zoom and enhance! Guybrush gets a stint in the Circus, acquires free T-Shirts, learns a load of witty insults and wins the heart of the lady Governess - though only moments before she gets spirited away by the spirit of the pirate captain Lechuck, whose ghost haunts the sea and has kept all the local pirates land-locked.
For us lazier people, the voices are a welcome addition and mostly fit the characters, however I personally can't say I enjoy the voice of Guybrush that much - he just doesn't seem to fit well - especially when compared to other strong adventure game male leads like George Stobart from Broken Sword. The reason for this seems to be that they have identical animations to the original version, just with redone artwork, which kind of suggests that Lucasarts didn't take the graphical overhaul far enough.
It's a commendable aim in some respects, I suppose - but as a newcomer to the game I'd really like to see a Remastered version that looked a bit more natural and leave the Retro mode for those who just want to bask in nostalgia. Purists will also delight in the ability to seamlessly switch between the updated hand-drawn re-imagining and the original classic version.The game's twisty plot leads our naive hero on a hilarious, swash-buckling search for the fabled secret of Monkey Island.


Monkey Island’s graphics have a wonderfully nostalgic charm to them, but games like this just don’t sell anymore. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that the lines weren’t originally intended to be read aloud, or if the reading sessions were rushed, but the dialog just sounds flat. I would have loved for a combination of classic graphics with voice acting, but I had to stick it out with the new art for the experience.
The second half devolves into an unstructured, wide open island with excessive backtracking and questionable solutions to puzzles. I can’t really blame the original designers as they were pioneers of the industry, but why the Special Edition developers didn’t use a click and hold pop-up like Curse of Monkey Island is beyond me. The graphical upgrade wipes out almost all of the charm and visual wit The Secret of Monkey Island features, and the voice acting is welcome, though not very good.
Monkey Island: Special Edition offers an optional graphical overhaul and interface (plus a few other bits, like spoken dialogue), but the actual content is the same as before - to the point where it clearly references the original even as you load the game. After chatting to the three commodores, Guybrush gets sent on three quests of pirate-esque calibre - dig up some loot, steal some loot and learn how to sword fight - or, well, insult sword fight. The good news is that you can easily turn on subtitles and cancel the volume, or just switch between Retro and Remastered mode at any point just by pressing F10.
And then there’s the rushed finale, so rushed in fact the Special Edition completion percentage hilariously jumps from 75% to 100% in just ten minutes.
The cast has a bunch of memorable characters including Stan the boat salesman, the fruit cannibals, and of course, LeChuck and Elaine, and the game certainly has its moments, especially when learning to insult sword fight and sneaking around LeChuck’s ship. It’s nice to know that you can play the original game without any of the new features easily, at least. It's not that I dislike the genre though - I actually loved the Broken Sword games, for example. There’s a reason LucasArts put itself on the map in the early 90s, and it wasn’t because of George Lucas.
It's just that I could never be bothered with all that reading and Monkey Island pre-dated most of the 'talkie' adventure games by a few years.
Many of the puzzles are illogic, most of them just plain.The graphics are too simple, with static backgrounds and bad animations.



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