Mac Publisher: Aspyr Media, LLC
Minimum System Requirements: Mac OS X v10.5, 1.8GHz Intel-based processor, 512MB RAM, 2GB free disk space, 128MB ATI X1600 or NVidia GeForce 7300 video card
Review Computer: 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo aluminum MacBook, 2GB DDR3 memory, NVidia GeForce 9400M graphics
Network Feature: No
Processor Compatibility: Intel only
ESRB Rating: E 10+ (alcohol and tobacco reference, comic mischief, mild cartoon violence, suggestive themes)
Availability: Out now
This is kind of a pointless review to write. You’re either the type of gamer who will play an enhanced version of an adventure game originally released twenty years ago, or you’re not. Personally, I’m unapologetic in my love for the adventure games of the ’90s, and am therefore unapologetic in my love for The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition.
We’ve been talking quite a bit about Monkey Island lately, thanks to Telltale Games’ episodic adventure Tales of Monkey Island. That was an entirely new game built with a modern 3D gaming engine. Not so, with Secret. It’s an “enhanced remake” of the original (a really nice touch is that you can swap between the old and new graphics at any point in the game), but it doesn’t stray far from the original 2D graphic look and feel.
And really, why should it? If you want games that look real, you’re on the wrong platform. I want my games to look interesting, to have style. The Secret of Monkey Island does…even if our hero does now look more like a member of Spandau Ballet than he does a pirate. Maybe that’s the point.
But the special edition doesn’t just update the graphics. It has a re-recorded and remastered score, and you’ve now got full voice acting, with the principal characters (Guybrush Threepwood, Elaine Marley and the ghost pirate LeChuck) being voiced by the same actors who played them in Tales of Monkey Island. Having recently finished that game, it was nice to get this continuity. They do a fantastic job.
The biggest update from the original version would have to be the new command system. Gone are the typed verb commands, replaced by cursor icons that tell you how can interact with various characters and objects. Some of these can be confusing at first, but you get the hang of it quickly.
Of couse, with adventure games, what really matters are the story and puzzles. The puzzles need to be challenging without being illogical, and the story needs to be entertaining enough to drive you through the puzzles and keep you going when you get stumped…which you will (although purists show note that the actual “stump joke” has been removed). A new hint system will generally let you know what do at the more frustrating points, but in this age of online walkthroughs, it’s not entirely necessary. Where were such tools in 1990 when your only available help was a 99 cent per minute hint line phone call?
But the story here is very good. Aside from introducing you (or reintroducing you) to who these characters and from where they come, it has just about everything you’d want a pirate story to have: monkeys, root beer and insult sword fighting.
Of course, it also has adventure, humor and romance, as Guybrush Threepwood seeks to gain fame and fortune as a pirate. Along the way he must find buried treasure, steal artifacts, help cannibals, battle ghost pirates and win the hand of his one true love.
And skeletons, of course. All good stories have skeletons, be they pirate-themed or not.
I’m not going to say this game can be enjoyed by everyone; it lacks a lot of what this generation’s gamers need to get by. But if you at all enjoy a fun story, inventive puzzles and a slick sense of humor, The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition will make you feel guilty that you’re only playing $10 for it.
But then, I did say there’d be no apologies in this review.