The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition (PC)

Posted by Jim Cook, Jul 16, 2009 11:18

The Secret of Monkey Island holds a very special place in the heart of many adventure game fans, as it was one of the earliest Lucasarts style titles in the genre, emphasizing humor and telling a story over regularly killing you for innocent experimentation like Sierra’s Space Quest, King’s Quest, and so on did. It was also one of the first stories featuring Guybrush Threepwood, back when he was a wannabe pirate rather than a self-described mighty pirate. It’s fair to say that a lot of people playing this remake will do so with very favorable nostalgia in its favor, but I never played the original for more than a few minutes. So, is this remake worth the ten bucks Lucasarts wants? Yes, but it does have some problems.

It’s worth pointing out that while this version has all-new graphics (though the originals can be viewed by pressing F10 at any time), it’s a very old-school adventure. Whereas many modern adventures always know the most intuitive/correct action when you click on an item or person, Monkey Island requires you to pick the right action, with the right item. You also have to specifically open doors before walking through them, as another example of just how archaic the controls are. Thankfully right-clicking will cause the game to pick the most likely action, though it’s not always what you wanted. But the core gameplay of the adventure genre is here; go from one place to another, talking to people both to gather clues and advance an amusing plot, while grabbing items and solving various puzzles with them.


Since the gameplay is so simple, the real focus is on the story itself. This is one of Guybrush Threepwood’s first outings, focusing on his quest to become a pirate. We don’t get much background as to why he wants to become one, he just shows up at Melee Island in the Caribbean and hilarity ensues. A fair amount of the humor consists of making fun of pirate stereotypes and portraying Guybrush as something of a bumbling hero, though lots of other topics come up too; Star Wars jokes both subtle and obvious crop up, one pirate goes into a blatant sales pitch for Loom (which was an anticipated adventure game back in the early ’90s), and there’s even Stan the used ship salesman, who is probably this game’s comedic high-point as he tries to sell various worthless vessels with a lot of enthusiasm.

As the screenshots show, you can play this game either in its original 1990 graphics, or the modern ones. While you can swap between these at will, you can’t mix and match. If you use the original graphics, you also get the original music and no voice acting. The modern version has good remixes of the old music, and many of the familiar voice actors from the series return for this, apparently including Earl Boen as Captain LeChuck, for those fans wondering about him. I mostly played in the modern mode, but the original mode was a neat history lesson in how old ’Scumm Engine’ adventure games looked and I recommend you check it out for at least a little while.


For more video game reviews on this and many others head to Game Rankings

Our Rating for The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition (PC)
4.0 Replay
An extremely linear game, and it’s easy to find most or all of the content on your first play through.
7.5 Graphics
The original graphics are exactly as they should be, and the new graphics have a nice art style to them... but animate somewhat poorly.
9.0 Sound
Several classic tunes are mixed with some pretty funny and talented voice acting, with many important characters having their original voices.
7.5 Gameplay
One of the most classic adventure games ever is given a very faithful remake and while most of it is fun, staying true to the original gameplay means a few puzzles are really bad about making you backtrack, and others are very unintuitive... or worse, on a tight time limit. Thankfully a hint system helps out.
0.1 Multiplayer/Online Content
Not Applicable; this is a single-player game only.
8.0 Overall
While its age does lead to some problems in game design, this is a worthy remake of what is rightly considered a classic adventure game, and you’d do well to give it a try.

Rating: 4.8, votes: 5

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