Game Review: The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is a remake of the 1990 game of the same title. The game is true to the original game with enhanced graphics and sound. One of the neat features of the game is that with a single press of a button, the player can instantly see and play the 1990 version of the game with it’s pixelated scenes and midi audio track. It is hardly recommended to play the game in this mode, but it is fun to see the difference between the two versions.

The secret of Monkey Island is the comical tale of Guybrush Threepwood and his quest to become a pirate. Naturally there is both swashbuckling and chivalry, but the plot is reminiscent of many adventure games of the 1990s, meaning that there isn’t one. Today the story presented would make any professional game designer cringe. The game is full of poor story telling techniques, dated humor, and subplots which go nowhere. This is all attributed to the fact that game is word for word true to the original game. That said, the voice acting which was recorded for the Special Edition is not bad, and to some degree redeems the bad dialog, but nothing can help the jokes that just aren’t funny by today’s standards. The plot itself is a comedy, and there are a few laughs, but nothing that is going to send you to the floor.

Where the game fails is in it’s design. The game plays exactly the same as the original 1990 version. It consists of pixel hunting, talking to characters, combining items, and using items on other items. The interface is frustrating. The player has to cycle through different options such as “use”, “talk to”, “push”, “pull”, “look at”, and “pick up” when they want to interact with the game. The game will guess somewhat as to what the player might want to do with an object, most of the time assuming “walk to” or “open”, but having to select “pick up” and then click on an item to pick it up is very annoying, and certainly something that could have been changed for the special edition. The game also requires an enormous amount of walking around, the player has to walk through towns and caverns, and travel around islands. There is a lot of walking, and this can be very annoying if the player has to go all the way across the outdoor map and into the deepest part of a town to get something that they missed the first time they were there. This could have been improved by adding a “quick travel” to get to parts of the game that the player has access to. The problem with this game is that it is too true to the original.

With all that said, fans of the original game are going to love this. It is always nice for gamers to see an enhanced version of something they love. Gamers who have not played the original, including serious adventure gamers, will probably be happy to skip this one because it isn’t up to today’s standards for an adventure game.

Grade: C+