The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition Review
Xbox 360 | PC
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition box art
System: X360, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: LucasArts 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: LucasArts 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: July 15, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Humor on the High Seas
by Jonathan Marx

The Secret of Monkey Island released in 1990 to unanimous praise. The mixture of humor, high production value, and complex puzzles made this game an instant classic, eventually spawning a bunch of sequels and creating a massive fan following. I'm happy to announce that the Special Edition version of this beloved game does a remarkable job of modernizing it while staying true to its old-school charm. Of course, an adventure game from 1990 - no matter how well it has been remade - will likely miss the mark with many contemporary gamers.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition screenshot

This is a very good game that is undoubtedly worth the $10 price tag. However, know that it was made for the throng of nostalgic fans of the series and point-and-click adventure buffs. If you are someone who becomes bored or frustrated easily by complex puzzles and loads of dialogue, The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition will be lost on you.

Special Edition takes players to fictional Melee Island somewhere in the Caribbean. Taking on the role of Guybrush Threepwood, a naïve fellow trying to become the most revered and reviled pirate in the world, players will quickly find adventure (and dead ends). After dueling through insult sword fighting, thieving from the Governor's mansion, and finding buried treasure, Guybrush finds himself in the midst of a love triangle. The kidnapping of Governess Elaine Marley at the hooks of her undead suitor, LeChuck, sends Threepwood, and his quirky crew, on a host of comical misadventures that are sure to please cerebral gamers.

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The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is a point-and-click adventure. Gameplay consists of walking around the various static environments, talking to the locals, finding, combining, and using essential implements, and making your way through the story by collecting clues and resolving puzzles. At no point will you be performing intricate button presses or leap from platform to platform. For fans of point-and-click adventure, know that this was one of the best examples of the genre in its heyday. Despite the modernization, whether on PC or the Xbox 360, the game still is an excellent model. For those of you who have never found point-and-click to be engaging, this latest remake of the masterpiece still won't convince you.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition screenshot

The game controls every bit as well as it always has. Players can easily interact with the environment by accessing the verbs menu (actions menu) on the fly. Also, the most readily used actions will already be mapped to the object or person with which you want to interact. Best of all, a simple press of a button shifts the game from the sharp, hand-drawn, HD presentation to the pixelated sprites and classic backdrops that made the game shine nearly 20 years ago. I used this functionality incessantly; constantly comparing the old with the new. Additionally, switching to the old-school view lets players control the game as they always had by having the verb menu letter-boxed below the main screen. Whether using a mouse or an Xbox 360 controller, getting around Monkey Island is a breeze.

Perhaps the best aspect of this title has actually always been there: the humor. Fans of this series, Sam & Max, and Wallace & Gromit will definitely enjoy the subtle gaffs and in-jokes found throughout the game. Unexpectedly, many of the jokes are actually made funnier (or at least more accessible) by the addition of quality voice-work throughout. The original game had players deriving laughs by reading through screen after screen of dialogue, now players can simply sit back, make text selections, and listen to the funny.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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