The Secret Of Monkey Island SE: Yes You Can Have Your Cake And Ea
The Secret Of Monkey Island is pretty much the Monty Python of video games.Revered,memorised and quoted ad nauseam...by those who were old enough to enjoy it at the time of it's original release in 1991.
I was two in 1991 and to steal a line from Jeremy Clarkson, my main concern was probably biscuits.
For years I have been hearing about this fabled treaure trove of wit and puzzles.However I have never ever seen a Monkey Island game available to buy in a shop..N-E-V-E-R. So I put it to the back of my mind and quietly forgot about it.
Fastforward to the year 2009 and Telltale release Tales Of Monkey Island Episode 1: Launch Of The Screaming Narwhal.Positively foaming at the mouth at the chance to play anything Monkey Island (I had heard Escape was very poor) I bought the whole season.You should go download and play through the demo at least. I'll wait...
"You done?" Good lets keep going
Having fallen in love with Monkey Island through that game I then heard that the fabled Secret Of Monkey Island had been remade...
I began to shake. Beads of sweat began to trickle down my forehead. My hand, wavering slightly reached out for my mouse and I began to execute my signature move ...
CREDIT CARD SMASH!!
and passed out.
I awoke several hours later with the strange symbol "fghj" imprinted on my forehead.Shaking my head slightly to clear my head and shake loose some keys that had stuck there.Their soft clatter as they fell to floor was immediately drowned out by Michael Lands classic theme.Brilliant cheerful and really Caribbean I was hooked already.
The game focuses on Guybrush Threepwood a wanna be pirate.He arrives on Melee Island to seek approval from the Pirate Masters.However all the pirates on Melee do is sit in the SCUMM bar and drink grog, they are too terrifed of the ghost pirate LeChuck to do any real pirating.
Guybrush meets the Pirate Leaders who tell him that he must complete three trials to become a pirate.
However LeChuck soon comes to the Island and Guybrush must launch a rescue mission to recover what LeChuck has taken.
The early and mid game consists of Guybrush adventuring and solving puzzles to complete the three tasks.The puzzles are well constructed and logical, albeit you do need to develop a different kind of mindset to the one you normally play games with.Every room and area has to be carefully covered with vigourous mouse sweeps to pick up the "hotspots", The areas of the beautifully painted scenes (new to the special edition more on the graphics later) which can be interacted with, as well as the notion that nothing is there by accident.
It's the dialog which really sets this game apart .While I dont want to give away any of the lines , because some of the joy in this game is the suprise at how original and unexpected the lines are. What I will say is this game will make you sneeze your beverage of choice across the room several times.
The Special Edition is also voiced by the full cast from the Curse Of Monkey Island(playing at the moment) onwards.All of the performances are excellent Dominic Armato is perfect as Guybrush.
As metioned earlier the Special Edition has brand new high def graphics and these are really,really beautiful.Every scene is a delight.I played much of this game on a 46' Samsung LCD via HDMI and was blown away.For the old school who want to run the original game on Vista with no trouble, the game features a really neat way of accomplishing this.Push the F10 key at any point to swap to the original game, its instant ,painless and very impressive in its execution. It dosent even take a second.Flick,flack,flick,flack between the versions.
Eventually on his rescue mission Guybrush arrives on the eponymous Monkey Island its your archetypal tropical island sandy beaches lush forests, all beautifully realised, and from here the pace of the game really picks up leading eventually to your final confrontation with LeChuck.
The issues I had with the game are few and quite minor but I'll go through them quickly.
1.The interface the game uses; the SCUMM engine (which works by joining verbs from a verb list chosen by the player with items in the game world).The player must bring up the verb and inventory lists and select what he wants from each.
For example to pick up a book ,the player must select pick up from the verb list and book from inventory.It just feels like a lot of mouse work.However there are hotkeys which make all of this a lot quicker.
2.Very occasionaly Guybrush's walking animation would stop and he would just glide along the ground.
3.LeChuck just isnt in it enough,you see him four times in the game and he dosent say a whole lot.When you finally defeat him its slightly anticlimactic as you didnt feel very strongly about him.
All in all the Secret Of Monkey Island is a terrific,fun filled and often hilarious romp through the Caribbean.With great dialogue,voice acting, puzzles and graphics it is very difficult to avoid losing hours in this beautifully remade game.