The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition First Look

The secret has been revealed. A remake of the 1990 PC classic will be coming soon, and we've got a first look.

Anyone who grew up gaming on the PC in the early '90s will most likely remember The Secret of Monkey Island, often hailed as one of the best adventure games of all time. Guybrush Threepwood, the naive but enthusiastic protagonist, and the sinister ghost-pirate LeChuck have been in one another's hair fighting for the affections of Governor Elaine Marley over the course of four games. We went to LucasArts a couple of weeks ago to see The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition, and we spoke with producer Craig Derrick about the game's development.

Derrick explained that the idea began a year ago, when he and members of his team were looking to do something for the fans. They looked at how the series had evolved, especially the main characters, and agreed that the goal was to come up with something fresh and new while staying true to the original. The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition is a graphical makeover with added features, which should definitely please the rabid fans as well as draw in a new audience with its charming story, hilarious dialogue, and mix of interesting puzzles.

The story takes place on Melee Island, located somewhere "Deep in the Caribbean" where young Guybrush is on a quest to become a pirate. Along the way he meets the lovely and sassy governor Elaine Marley, who subsequently gets kidnapped by the antagonist LeChuck, who is dead set on marrying her. Everything that you remember from Monkey Island is there because this remake runs on top of the original game, letting you switch instantly--with the back button--between the classic game and the revamped version with updated visuals and audio. This is by far one of the coolest features that we've come across when it comes to remakes, and this addition lets you compare the two versions and realize what a difference 20 years can make.

Another added feature is the hint system, which would have come in handy before the days of the Internet and walk-throughs on demand. By pressing the X button, you can bring up a hint that will gently nudge you in the right direction. If you still find yourself stumped, pressing it a second time will give you a push. But if you still can't seem to figure it out, the final hint is basically a whap over the head that comes with a bright yellow arrow directing you to where you need to go along with detailed instructions. No in-game penalty is given for using these hints, but there are achievements and leaderboards to consider. However, the hints are also written with the same clever sense of humor, so it could be worthwhile to see what the game might tell you.

Play through the game in classic mode with the push of a button.

Instead of having the lower part of your screen dedicated to verbs, you can pull up a menu and select your command whenever you like, or use the D pad to select one of the preset commands. Like in a point-and-click game on the PC, you control your character and interact with the environment with a cursor icon. In this case it's a circular cursor with an arrow that acts like a compass that you aim at points of interest. You use the left analog stick to move the cursor, and the A button defaults to the walk command. If you hover over objects that you can interact with, the B button will appear with the corresponding verb, such as "look" or "open." The controls might take a while to get used to, especially when you need to click on several items quickly, but they're fairly straightforward.

What stood out in this special edition was the beautiful artwork, which was displayed in our meeting room at LucasArts. Background concept art was mounted on a board, with incredible detail, rich colors, and a distinct style. We were told that unlike in the original game, which was drawn on the computer, the special-edition visuals were all hand-drawn and inserted into the game. Character redesigns and the animations were also done by hand to give the game an illustrated, storybook-like feel. The whimsical art style moves away from the realistic portraits that the original had and suits the game well. All of the characters were redesigned with new backgrounds, so when you're having a close-up conversation, it's not just a solid orange glow behind a pirate's head. You'll notice that instead of his stout, pixelated self, Guybrush's redesign looks more like the lanky Guybrush from The Curse of Monkey Island, which best suited his personality and demeanor. Fans should be pleased with the close attention that was given to many of the game's intricate details, from LeChuck's pirate outfit to Stan's crazy grid-patterned coat. Shader effects and subtle animations make the otherwise static environments come alive, and a procedural technique was used to smooth out the animation. The visuals do not stray far from the original design, but the changes and added features are enough to make the game feel contemporary and new.

Monkey Island's catchy theme song and entire soundtrack were completely remastered, and we loved what we heard from the demo. The music was rewritten and recorded with live instruments so that you get the true tropical-island vibe, with a pleasant blend of woodwind instruments and percussion instead of midi tunes--which weren't bad to begin with. Ambient sounds have also been added, so you'll hear the hustle and bustle of pirates in the Scumm Bar as you walk in, or you can listen to the sound of crashing waves against the dock as you enjoy the view of the full moon. Adding to the audio/visual storybook effect, the voice actors for Guybrush, Elaine, and LeChuck from The Curse of Monkey Island have returned to reprise their roles, and a narrator was also added for the transition scenes. If the game made you laugh out loud when you were reading the witty dialogue so many years ago, having voice actors will definitely enhance the experience. We were eager to check out the insult swordfighting, but that will have to wait.

Characters and backgrounds were all hand-painted to update the visuals.

If what we've covered so far hasn't made you giddy with excitement, those who are familiar with the game from their childhood can also keep an eye out for deleted scenes, such as Spiffy the dog and other hidden Easter eggs. Our time with Monkey Island was brief, but we were impressed with the direction in which it's going. Fans will not want to miss this, and LucasArts was not averse to the possibility of more MI remakes. We weren't able to get a price point yet, but be sure to check back soon because we'll update with more information as soon as it becomes available. The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition is set to be released on Xbox Live Arcade and the PC in midsummer.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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90 comments
thefearofme
thefearofme

Wow this is pretty awesome cant wait to play.

JRD1912
JRD1912

Well board as hell, but feel I have to dload it, but god Ive always sucked at these games. hope the hint system is good.

SSBFan12
SSBFan12

I don't think this game will be that big to tell you the truth.

stepheno79
stepheno79

further to my last comment, about point and click how many pages are crying out for remakes of great point and click games. Why have remakes!!! Make new ones i would buy them buy the bucket load on Xbox live!!! by the way grimfandango was by far my fav too

robdar602
robdar602

YEAH! I introduced my kids to Curse of Monkey Island and Escape to Monkey Island. They loved the puzzles and the humor. Great writing! These games are classics. Can't wait :D

Jackyll87
Jackyll87

Breaking out the originals in anticipation !!

pakhair
pakhair

Looks good...........

peterfaj
peterfaj

Sweet. I didn't play The secret-, but I did play one or two of The curse- games and I loved it/them. And the feature to change between the original visuals and the updated visuals is nice.

fusko
fusko

oh yeah, one of the nr 1 game on every list, NOW make grim fandango xp but it is great that they remake it, now i just have to try the old one

muserulz
muserulz

I played through this for nostalgia's sake a couple months ago, still a brilliant game. I forgot how bloody hard it is

wahyudil
wahyudil

for the sake of nostalgia ....

gmax
gmax

But what about the monkeys? Seriously...

Desperados11
Desperados11

i might give this a try, i'd love to see indiana jones made as well ;)

Jhraxlin
Jhraxlin

OMIGOSH! I love Monkey Island, I'm so glad they are making a new one. I just have one thing to say: You fight like a cow.

RyuRanVII
RyuRanVII

It looks beautiful. I'll buy it for sure!

shalott
shalott

I, for one, will be buying this when it comes out, even though I just finished playing the original version. If nothing else I can lend it to friends and hope they come to love Monkey Island as well.

Gen-Gawl
Gen-Gawl

Hell yeah, I'll buy it. Nostalgia FTW!

kvan33
kvan33

Uh, is there really a market for this?

gbrading
gbrading moderator

I'm glad they're releasing it again, because I lost my original copy of the game. I hope they keep the code wheel to get into the game... :P

Ajspeed_1
Ajspeed_1

they better not touch grim Fandango for updated visuals cause it looks great but this sounds fine i do admit the originals were abit hard on the eyes but the humour was great

Crashspeeder
Crashspeeder

I never played the originals but having played Monkey Island 3 and Escape From Monkey Island I became a huge fan. Having updated the originals makes me want to play through them. I also wish they'd make a new one. These games are hilarious.

sweatmonicaIdo
sweatmonicaIdo

Words can't describe the joy and memories this news that brought to my day...

Mark_sk8pu
Mark_sk8pu

can't wait for this game!!!! loved it!!!! played on Amiga 500....ahhh, memories....great days...

Tyralyon
Tyralyon

Wohooooooooooooooooo!!!! I've had the idea of a MI1 & 2 makeover for years, and thought it would be a great idea. This will be a must-buy for PC :)

iceeman
iceeman

gonna get this for pc. now if electronic arts can redo earl weaver baseball...which converted me from a football fan to a total baseball nut.

TitanExtremer
TitanExtremer

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY !!!!!!!!!! WOOHOoO! FinallY! Monkey island

Fireinthelol
Fireinthelol

ZOMG (feels like spamming but wont) VOICE-OVER OF MI1 = HEAVEN. Not to mention all the re-mastered visuals etc. xD

crazerlapd
crazerlapd

I haven't started playing PC games when this game was out on 1990, still a small kiddy. Hopefully this game is nice. I'll give it a try

caitalian
caitalian

OMG finally! I remember all the hours on this back in the day. Getting stuck and calling the hint line and then getting yelled at by my mom when she got the phone bill lol. Hope it does well.

AtticusFinch88
AtticusFinch88

This is great! I really hope they update Day of The Tentacle next.

stepheno79
stepheno79

Good Idea! I hope it does really well and kick starts a point and click style revolution, I was just thinking the other day why we don't have these sort of games (as these are the ones i have enjoyed most) and realised that Internet walk through site's have probably killed them off, using achievements brings back the challenge. after years of (what are really millions of doom clones with better graphics and physics) it would be good to play a few games that have great storeys (not just great graphics) takes a few (now pad, not mouse clicks) and some real brain power to get to the end. And once there have a great story and some real sense of achievement that you used your intelligence to work it out. plus now with the violence in video games we are used too it could open the doors for some really good dark point and click storeys not just remakes.

shinian
shinian

Excellent. I loved the first part. The next installment to the series would be better. But hey, this news is a lot better than nothing.

onyx
onyx

This was a completely unexpected but awesome announcement. Now lets see if they will remake System Shock with updated graphics. Its always on "top PC game" lists but was one of the many that I missed out on.

jakeboudville
jakeboudville

Definitely picking this up since i have many good memories playing the old ones back in the 90s.

anthonettex
anthonettex

Woohoo! I always wanted to play the originals having to like playing through the 3rd and 4th monkey islands (albiet with injokes passing over my head.) Definately will pick this up!

dc5integra
dc5integra

i also wouldn't mind 3-D versions of these.

dc5integra
dc5integra

oh yeah, exactly what I hoped for! They better make all the rest! and some new stories of Guybrush! memories... sob sob

Microwin
Microwin

@FireWariorr What you said is pretty useless. Whether there is a hint system or not, it'll end up with the same results, if not worse! With a hint system, then people won't have to spent time searching GameFaqs for what to do next and on top of that, accidently looking at something else. If YOU don't want things being easier then do yourself a favor and just don't use the key, simple as that, take the keypad off the keyboard. It's the player's choice to either push the button or not, and as said, it gives 2 hints before even displaying what you should do the third time.

FireWarriorr
FireWarriorr

they shouldnt put the hint sistem... its true its useful but it makes the player to have to resist using it, we all know that some people when they get stuck will just go to the hints and dont even think on the game and if they dont think it all the fun goes away... and then we have people posting all over the internet they finished the game and all that kind of stuff when they actually used a guide and dont even played the game by themselves thats the problem of the internet it just makes everything too easy, whenever there is a game with an interesting puzzle very hard to solve you end up on a forum that says the answer even if you only wanted to discuss peoples theories, that makes impossible to put an internet puzzle really hard that makes people think and give them a prize for solving it, cause somebody will just post it somewhere and everyone will know it

lostn
lostn

I hope they remake MI2 in HD as well.

Diernes
Diernes

Very strange choice to remake this. As we live in a time where click and point adventures seem to be all but a dead genre, even stranger this is for consoles. I will be surprised if the new generation of gamers take to this....

Hungry_Homer111
Hungry_Homer111

Have never played any of these games, but damn, this looks good. Also, this is a great way to do a remake of the game. Updated visuals and stuff like that for new players, and easy to switch back and forth between that updated version and the original, to appeal to purist.