hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

Review: Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

4:30 PM on 07.18.2009 // Brad Nicholson

Let’s rewind to E3 2009. I’m inside LucasArts’ conference room. I’m a few minutes early for the Star Wars: The Old Republic presentation. They have food and drink in both corners of the entrance. I’m told to help myself, but I can’t find anything that isn’t bloated with sugars and salt. I’m told to look around and watch a few games in action before the demonstration starts. I see a man dressed as a Stormtrooper leaning against a wall in the back center of the room. I approach him and ask if his feet hurt.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see two demonstration kiosks. One is for Telltale Games’ Tales of Monkey Island series. The other is for Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition. I’m floored. Shocked. Dazzled. I listen to the presenter intently, consumed by a flurry of emotion. It’s like my dog came home after leaving the family for nineteen years. It’s amazing, one of those “I saw God’s face” kind of experiences.

And it’s finally here. On Wednesday morning, LucasArts’ Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition released on Xbox LIVE Arcade. I was optimistic about the title. Would the enhancements change the core game for the worse? Or will they make it better?

Hit the break to find out in our full review.

Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition (Steam, Xbox LIVE Arcade [reviewed])
Developer: LucasArts
Publisher: LucasArts
Released: July 15, 2009
MSRP: 800 Microsoft Banana Dollars, $9.99

A worn keyboard with a sludge-filled arrow key, swampy but responsive... An optical mouse with a scaly and slick, almost snakelike, mouse pad... An archaic OS with accompanying visual tree, bursting with brilliant blues and dazzling reds... These are the tools I used when I played Secret of Monkey Island the first time. And I loved it. Learned from it. Wished it would never end.

Now, here I am, playing Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition with an ergonomic controller, watching the action unfold with an expensive television set roughly the width of my ragged, ancient computer desk. I can recline. I can lie down. And I still love it. I still wish the experience would never end.

What strikes me as special about Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition isn’t the HD visual quality or widescreen capability. Nor is it the new voice-overs, interface or hand-drawn art. None of the new bells and whistles impress me as much as the sheer faithfulness of the port, the obvious attention paid to the fine detail. Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is Secret of Monkey Island: Floppy Disk or CD-ROM Edition. It is more dated than it is fresh, and my experience was better in spite of it. 

The new additions -- that is, what makes the Special Edition special -- don’t alter the core game for better or worse. They are garnish on an otherwise delectable dish.

Secret of Monkey Island is an accessible point-and-click adventure title with genuine wit, a heaping of tacky humor and more than a few intelligent puzzles. In the game, you are Guybrush Threepwood, a simpleton who sets out on a mission to become a mighty pirate: the kind of man with a single eye and a knotty leg. The story starts small, but quickly mutates into an epic quest as Guybrush stumbles into Elaine Marley’s clutches and crosses the evil-undead-voodoo-cursed pirate LeChuck.

You may remember all of this from, say, nineteen years ago when you played the game with a cheap optical mouse and a keyboard with a swampy arrow key. So, let’s talk about main four new components: art, interface, music and voice-overs.

The new art is tasteful and solidly adheres to the original artists’ vision. Aside from the addition of atmospheric touches -- fluffy clouds, hulking ships, lush jungle foliage -- nothing has been critically altered. It feels like, oddly enough, that you’re playing Secret of Monkey Island, not an enhanced version. It’s a mark of perfection.

You can stare and play with the old visuals at any time with a button press.

A new inventory system and verb system were created for the Special Edition. Both are drop-down menus that require the use of a cursor. It’s an intuitive system, but not a streamlined one, especially when navigating with a controller. Combining items becomes a pain. The action, usually a timed affair, requires the use of two different drop-down menus. It can get messy.

The music has been given a facelift. The orchestration is full-bodied, no longer a MIDI. Voice acting has been added, as well. A superb cast of talent speaks the exact text written into the game. This was a sore spot for me in the early game. The stiff lines are delivered mechanically with what I perceived as little inflection. But, that’s just the first hour or so of the game, where essentially the writers convey all of the information about the island, items, and basic components. Once Guybrush and crew start talking to each other, instead of simply informing each other of things, it sounds just as fluid as the (excellent) stuff in Telltale Games’ “Launch of the Screaming Narwhal.”

Secret of Monkey Island suffers from a variety of genre-specific issues. Most findable quest items are strewn about the game’s landscape, carefully nestled in the most illogical corners. Most characters don’t guide you to the next task or share locations of important places -- these things are left up to you to discover. And it may take some time to figure out a puzzle. You need to use the universe’s logic, not your own. The Special Edition does tackle these issues, but not with a fix. It addresses them with a context-sensitive band-aid. By pressing a button, the game will give up to three tiers of hints. The last tier reveals a massive yellow arrow and the complete answer to whatever you’re currently doing.

Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
’s upgrades and enhancements don’t change or otherwise spoil the core game (unless you like using hints). For me, this was the most important thing LucasArts could have done. Memories of Secret of Money Island are cemented in my brain, and my original experience with the title is intertwined with my gamer soul. This is an incredibly special game already -- a benchmark for future adventure titles -- made even more special for the current-generation player with new art, UI, sound, and voice acting. Don’t miss this.

Score: 9.5 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)



THE VERDICT

9.5

Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition - Reviewed by Brad Nicholson
Entrancing - It's like magic, guys. Time disappears when this game and I are together, and I never want it to end. I'm not sure if this is a love that will last forever, but if it is, you'll get no complaints from me.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Brad Nicholson,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

nanashi avatarnanashi
-nudge nudge- hey Sony, discount Ys: I and II Chronicles and Ys: Seven on the PSP :D
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Just out of curiosity, does anybody here still play Mario Kart 8 at all frequently?
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
Neighbors ended up calling the cops. I hid under a cardboard box. Police officers were perplexed but went back to their patrol routes after a minute or so.
techsupport avatartechsupport
!a new MGS: Ground Zeroes update file auto dl'd and installed..the day prior to MGSV... hmm.. coincidence? OR... coincidence?
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Just got an email from Nintendo saying that my Club Nintendo reward has been shipped and is on its way. Now it's the end of an era. *pours one out for Club Nintendo*
wutangclam avatarwutangclam
I've been thinking of starting up a criticism-minded "game of the month" type podcast. Would anyone be interested in something like that? If you'd wanna be part of it, let me know, I'm generating ideas and looking for contributors
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Playing the most difficult strategy game ever: trying to figure out what order to beat your backlog in.
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Transient Ryu stays ripped by riding the rails and throwing other transients off of his rail cars - [IMG]http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b321/Felth/homeless%20ryu.jpg~original[/IMG]
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
I'm so, so sorry everyone. :(
kolten2 avatarkolten2
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJCiF5dBSpweeStTjOqu-uA/videos
TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
I'm pretty sure you guys know what game I'll be playing tomorrow. One of THE hottest games of the season. That's right, I'm talking about Lunch Truck Tychoon. Kojima ain't got shit on me, mukkas!
Flegma avatarFlegma
Playing Project Zero 2 on Wii. One should hope PZ5 got more sensible controls - twisting the Wiimote left/right to turn the camera does not make sense.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
"When you are not playing the game or choose not to join the defense, your FOB will be defended automatically by your Security Team and security devices." Yeah, I think I'll just avoid the FOB functionality in MGS V
Snaveage avatarSnaveage
PSA: If you're picking up Phantom Pain tomorrow, put the kids down for a nap, turn off your phone and tell your partner to pipe down - the opening hour deserves your undivided attention. Enjoy!
extatix avatarextatix
If you like your hentai VNs [url="https://groupees.com/vn3"]cheap.[/url] Or even [url="https://www.indiegala.com/manga"]cheaper[/url].
VeryImportantQuestion avatarVeryImportantQuestion
Just read that SquareEnix have applied some weird mutation of crowdfunding mechanics to the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided preorder. I know the last blog I wrote mentioned how big publishers try to pervert these systems, but to think it's already this far gone.
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
First in line to grab MGS V tomorrow. Close to my house, so it looks like I can eat and sleep comfortably. No one else seems to be waiting at my mailbox. Neighbors are getting suspicious.
The Travisionist avatarThe Travisionist
[img]https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CNwHpCTVAAA0jLp.png[/img] Sometimes, life is good as a ghost.
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
You know what, I'm just gonna come out and say it. I hope MGSV fails. It won't train wreck by any means, but I hope it's a huge financial failure. Nothing against Kojima, but #fuckonami
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
MGS V unlocks for me tomorrow at noon.
more quickposts


Contest!


destructoid's previous coverage:
Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!



Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -