The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition Review

The Secret of Monkey Island has already come out in 3 editions, the floppy version for the Atari ST, Mac, and PC in 1990, the re-release PC version and Amiga versions in 1991, and the much more widely known CD version in 1992 that featured better audio and a new UI. The most recent fourth version, The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is by far the best. It is available for the PC and 360 and features all new graphics as well as brand new voices recorded by the cast of Curse of Monkey Island (aka Monkey Island 3). The music is also redone and was made by the same composer.

As a huge fan of point-and-click adventures (my first game that I truly played was Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis on my Macintosh LCIII), I can say that playing this game takes me back to a place that I love. While the new graphics are nice (and you can switch back and forth between the VGA graphics from the 1992 version and the 1080i graphics of the 2009 edition, note that doing so also changes the audio to the original CD version, aka no voice-overs and the MIDI track), I wish they had put in more puzzles or added new locations ala Resident Evil for the GameCube. LucasArts hasn't disappointed me too much though, because an all new adventure is available from TellTale Games, which you can get on Steam as well as this game, called the Tales of Monkey Island.

The verb menu (Take, Open, Give, etc, etc) is now off screen and can be brought up as a menu, as is the inventory menu. While it's nice to get them off screen to raise the suspension of disbelief as well as allow for the player to enjoy the brand new hand-painted screens even more, I do prefer them on screen as it's what I'm used to (and I enjoy always knowing what is in my inventory.). Perhaps this was to cut-down on burn-in if played on the 360, but I do miss it.

For novice players, or players new to the point-and-click adventure, a new three level hint system lets you know what to do and where to go. At the highest level, a large arrow comes up on screen and directs you on where to go. While this is nice, I feel that it should've been left out and if a player really needed help they could refer to a walkthrough online. Most of the fun from the game comes from having to solve problems in a weird and creative way, and if a hint pops up all of a sudden then you lose that sense of having to solve a problem for yourself.

The game itself is almost flawless. The puzzles are creative and witty, the jokes are all there (yes, the ASK ME ABOUT LOOM guy, aka Cobb, is still in the remake, even though you can't purchase Loom on the 360), and the game is only made better with the brand new graphics. The drop dead gorgeous backgrounds, while it gets rid of the nostalgic value (which can be brought up at any time at will), really do add value to a game that I've otherwise played dozens of times, as do the brand new voice overs.

The bottom line is that Secret of Monkey Island SE is a great game regardless of if you've played the original many times or not. If you haven't played the game before, I do recommend switching to the VGA graphics every once in awhile to see how it was originally meant to be played, and if you have played the game before, the brand new HD graphics, as well as the new audio, make it feel like a brand new adventure.