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