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The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition review

Excellent
AT A GLANCE
  • Great writing and acting
  • Fun puzzling
  • Spiffy graphical update
  • Clunky new interface
  • Unskippable dialogue
  • World feels a bit empty

For those of us of a certain age, there was no more pleasant surprise at E3 than this – the resurrection of perhaps the most celebrated graphic adventure of them all. Those halcyon days where LucasArts and Sierra ruled the gaming roost with their point-’n’- clickers, and each new exploit of Guybrush Threepwood, Indiana Jones, Roger Wilco or Gabriel Knight set gamers’ pulses racing, might be ancient history – but that doesn’t mean these golden oldies don’t still have a whole lot to offer gamers.

In case you’re not aware, The Secret of Monkey Island follows the adventures of foppish, lily-livered wannabe buccaneer Guybrush Threepwood. To prove his mettle, Threep ends up roped into three piratical tests. To complicate matters, he falls foul of devilish undead voodoo pirate LeChuck, who also happens to be besotted with Guybrush’s beau! With an eclectic, inspired cast of freaks and bizarre set pieces, the scene is set for a swashbuckling adventure, a whole load of mishaps, some killer lines and much tickling of ribs.

Your chance to play a piece of gaming history made even more perfect, the essential framework of Monkey Island – converse with people, pick up items, combine them on other items, use resulting item on something – hasn’t changed a lick and won’t be to everybody’s tastes. To smooth things along a bit, there’s now a new three-tier hint system to keep you on the right path. In fact, it’s a bit too tempting to use at times – and a far cry from the days when there wasn’t even an internet walkthrough to fall back on!

Okay, so the gameplay mechanics might seem dated, but then this is a stellar tale, well presented and even more well told. The hand-painted visuals look stunning, the voice cast is hilarious and the soundtrack funkier than ever – it puts more recent point ’n’ clickers like Secret Files to shame with the quality of its writing.

The interface is pretty clunky, particularly when it comes to using the 360’s notoriously imprecise d-pad to select from the radial menus – diagonals can be quite a pain. However, it’s not as bad as the PC version’s interface (strangely), and the subsequent difference in frustration levels gives the 360 version the edge.

Not just a wonderfully realised slice of fan service, Monkey is also the perfect opportunity for those not around in 1990 to experience the sheer genius of insult swordfighting, to barter with Stan the used boat salesman, to insult Fester Shinetop, to romance Elaine and more.

Jul 16, 2009

More Info

Release date: Jul 15 2009 - PC, Xbox 360 (US)
Jul 15 2009 - PC, Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: PC, iPhone, Xbox 360
Genre: Adventure
Published by: LucasArts
Developed by: LucasArts
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Alcohol Reference, Comic Mischief, Suggestive Themes, Tobacco Reference, Mild Cartoon Violence
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending

9 comments

  • KCC85UK - July 19, 2009 4:06 a.m.

    you can skip the dialogue all you have to do is press y on the 360
  • pinoklin - July 17, 2009 11:23 p.m.

    YYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSS OMFG i need to buy this game moneky island is simply my favourite saga of games...and to not know it is ignorance no matter when were you born...omg i think im gonna pass out
  • smallberry - July 17, 2009 5:24 a.m.

    Is it just me or does the new Guybrush look like a bit of a ponce? Still love him though! Going to sit down with some grog and play this over the weekend.
  • elchetos - July 17, 2009 3:02 a.m.

    That's the second biggest game I miss the most. It's so good someone took the chance and decided to release it
  • garnsr - July 16, 2009 10:40 p.m.

    My girlfriend's 16 year old nephew didn't even know what Monkey Island is! What's this world coming to? Now, bring on Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango (and the other Monkey Islands) and I'll be overjoyed.
  • GoldenMe - July 16, 2009 8:59 p.m.

    Hunh. This got a better score than the PC version? That interface does screw you up a bit. I just downloaded it yester day and it was awesome and hilarious. Great game.
  • crustdbeat - July 17, 2009 9:14 a.m.

    im with ya smallberry... hes was a bit tubsy in the original. This game shall separate the men from the boys. Oh wait there is a hint system now.
  • jar-head - July 17, 2009 5:23 a.m.

    unskippable dialogue=buzz Kill
  • gatornation1254 - July 17, 2009 2:53 a.m.

    oh ryan mccafery will be pleased

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