January 7, 2010

Review: Monkey Island Special Edition

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is an enhanced remake of the old school adventure game from 1990. Unless you were a teenager in 1990, you've probably never played the game. But you might have heard of it. Monkey Island has been an extremely popular franchise since its launch and has spawned four sequels, the latest of which from Telltale Games concluded with its final episode last month. Monkey Island was also one of the earliest games Tim Schafer  worked on. As an old time adventure game, it's point and click, which may seem boring and archaic by today's standards, but the wit and charm of Monkey Island compels you to play on.
From the very beginning, you know it's going to be one silly adventure when the protagonist walks up to a random old man and proclaims, "Hi! My name's Guybrush Threepwood and I want to be a pirate!" And a pirate he will become after he passes the three trials, sails to Monkey Island, and defeats the ghost pirate LeChuck. There's not a whole ton more to say about the game. The Xbox version does a good job of adapting the controls to a gamepad, though it's still best played with a mouse. The writing (obviously the most important factor in these old adventure games) is top notch and will keep you laughing all the way with it's silly, yet sophisticated dialog. Did I mention the combat consists of exchanging insults? Well it does and it's awesome. Being point and click, though, you never directly control you character meaning the game's emphasis is on problem solving and puzzles, which are actually pretty tough. There's an improved hint system in this version that gives you progressively more specific hints. I found it annoying simply because it was there. I was constantly tempted to use it instead of thinking things out for myself. The puzzles do get tough though and I found myself getting a hint and then realizing that I would have probably never thought of the answer on my own.

The entire game has been revamped from the original 8-bit version, but you can switch between the two on the fly but hitting the back button. Nifty, but I'm not sure why you'd want to. The old version has no voiceover, mucky visuals, and blip bloop music. The new one is in wide screen, has all new hand-drawn art work and remastered, orchestrated music. The icon next to the cursor even shows you which action you have selected.

In short, Monkey Island is a game everyone should play. It's virtually unmatched when it comes to the entertainment factor. It's more like an interactive movie or book than a game, but it's definitely worth it. Quite a brilliant, fun, and immersive game. I'll definitely be checking out Tales of Monkey Island now.

No comments:

Post a Comment