The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

September 6, 2009

Point and click games hold a special place in the hearts of many, especially The Secret of Monkey Island. While the royal family of Daventry was combating their enemies by selecting the right inventory item and watching a quick scene unfold Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Pirate, was taking on the masses by insult sword fighting. Sure, it was (and is still) impossible to die, but the system engaged the player. The Secret of Monkey Island also managed to set itself apart from the competition by being genuinely funny. I know that I laughed out loud numerous times throughout the game. Other adventure games (save Sierra’s Space Quest series) took a more serious tone, and that set Monkey Island apart from the crowd a little bit more.

Guybrush Threepwood is hoping to make a name and fortune for himself in the pirating business. Along the way you will be challenged by the evil Le Chuck who will serve as Guybrush’s nemesis throughout the adventure (and the Monkey Island series as a whole). The story is chock full of humor, and instead of ruining it for those of you who never got to play it the first time around I will simply describe it thusly. The Secret of Monkey Island is a great interactive comedy, and it is worth experiencing for $10 – even if you play the game once and then never touch it again.

The special edition not only brings The Secret of Monkey Island to consoles for the first time, but it also overhauls the graphics (although classic graphics are still available as an option for all you nostalgics out there). The visual style is wonderful and fits the tone of the game perfectly. Also improved is the voice acting. LucasArts clearly cares about Monkey Island and its inhabitants as each voice feels appropriate for its character, and lines are believably delivered. The voice acting also serves to accentuate Secret’s humor. Jokes are delivered well, and the title’s wit shines brighter than ever before thanks to the high quality voices.

The problems present in Special Edition are the same problems that were present in the PC original –  some of the puzzles are fairly obtuse, and some interactive objects are difficult to detect. The puzzles do all have a logical solution in so much as you will likely go “Oh, that’s what it was – I can see that” after you’ve looked up the solution on GameFAQs rather than looking through your inventory and thinking “this combination of inventory items is the obvious solution to this puzzle.” Controls are hampered not by design, but by hardware. The 360 d-pad is well-known for being problematic, and that really shines here as the d-pad is front and center when it comes to selecting inventory items and actions. The system is certainly workable, but you’ll want to break out your best 360 pad for this one.

Control issue aside, The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition is a bargain at $10. Anybody who has picked up modern adventure games but managed to miss this one should give it a shot, and anybody who played the PC original and has access to a 360 has probably already bought it and beaten it.

Plays Like: The Secret of Monkey Island, Sam & Max seasons

Pros: Funny, insult sword fighting, choice between classing and enhanced graphics and sound

Cons: A few obtuse puzzles, relies on the 360’s d-pad

ESRB: E10+ – if you are willing to stick with an adventure game then none of the content present is inappropriate

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.