26 Feb

The Secret of Monkey Island

Filed under: PC Games One Response

The remastered Special Edition jazzes up the game with new cartoon-style graphics. Too bad there are still very few animations.

The Golden Age of point-and-click adventure games is long past, but out of a sense of nostalgia for all those Sierra games I dabbled with when I first got involved with PC games, I bought the remastered versions of the first two Monkey Island games. I’ve never played any of these games before and the first one at least is widely considered one of the best things LucasArts ever made. Plus they were cheap and it doesn’t take long to play through them at all, so what the heck.

  • The remastered edition of the game includes not just spiffy new graphics but also full voice acting for every single line in the game. I wouldn’t have been able to play this game without these improvements. An awesome feature in this edition is that you switch between the two editions instantly, so you can see for yourself what the game was like back in the day, old-fashioned interface and all.
  • Old-style adventure games are hard! The puzzles in this game aren’t quite up to Gabriel Knight levels of insanity, but they’re still quite cryptic. In one instance, you get bananas out of a tree by dropping a rock onto a silly-looking makeshift catapult, thus sending the rock flying halfway across the island to hit said tree. Is that intuitive for anyone at all? Thankfully, the game comes with a pretty in-depth hint system or the game would be almost impossible to complete without looking at a walkthrough.

Yes, once upon a time this was state of the art graphics and people paid money for it.
  • The verb-based interface was way worse than my rose-tinted glasses view of old adventure games. Now I understand why people don’t really make this kind of game anymore. Forcing people to figure out the correct verb to interact with an object that you just know is interactive, or just exhaustively try them all, is plain evil. I guess that this is one way to artificially extend the length of the gameplay back in the day. I’m very glad that modern RPGs integrate all available options into the dialogue tree.
  • I’m kind of lukewarm about the writing. Probably my expectations were set too high by this game’s soaring reputation, but the jokes are mostly just okay. Remember all those sitcoms that you thought were hilarious when you were a kid? They probably won’t stand up now either.
  • After having played Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble!, I really enjoyed playing the original insult-based combat here. It’s particularly cool how the final fight with the Sword Master requires you to actually understand the insults and retorts being used to deploy them in new ways rather than regurgitating them by rote. Too bad, it’s just a quest-specific gimmick and not a general gameplay mechanic.

All in all, it was a nice trip down memory lane but I wouldn’t recommend it to most people. I’m actually rather glad now that I didn’t buy Telltales’ new Back to the Future game. Maybe newer games like Heavy Rain (PS3 only so zero chance I’ll ever play it) will show the way forward for adventure games, but for the most part I’m glad it’s a dead genre. Their gameplay has simply been fully incorporated into other genres. That said, being the completionist that I am, I’ll still play the Monkey Island 2 game that I bought this one together with one day.

Screenshots like this fool you into thinking that playing this is just like watching a cartoon. The problem is that there are barely any animations, so it’s mostly just a still image with text at the bottom.
Written on February 26 2012 and is filed under PC Games. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “The Secret of Monkey Island”


  1. Monkey Island 2: Special Edition | Knights of the Cardboard Castle

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