The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition Impressions - New Graphics, New Music, Plus a History Lesson

We take an up-close look at this remake of the classic adventure game at E3 2009.


The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition is the newly announced remake of the original classic point-and-click adventure game that graced computers nearly 20 years ago. The original game set itself apart with its goofy and irreverent sense of humor (you played as a wannabe pirate named Guybrush Threepwood, and engaged in such manly pursuits as "insult swordfighting"), and earned itself a devoted fan following and many sequels. Then, for a long time, nothing happened. But now, LucasArts is reviving the classic game with an all-new facelift that includes completely revamped, high-resolution hand-painted art, a brand-new music score, and full-speech voice acting provided by the actors who voiced the characters in the original series.

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Who's Making This Game: LucasArts, surprisingly. The company had seemingly turned its back on its once-glorious stable of classic graphical adventure games, including Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Maniac Mansion, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango. The publisher has done an about-face on the subject, developing both this game and an all-new Monkey Island game with California-based studio Telltale Games (which itself was founded by ex-LucasArts adventure-game employees).

What the Game Looks Like: It looks either really great or like a musty old history lesson. We'll explain: the new version of the game offers an all-new graphical upgrade, complete with brand-new "close-up" cutscenes that take place when Guybrush speaks with someone. However, you can also, at any time, seamlessly revert the graphics to look exactly like the original game--chunky, pixelated characters, noiseless dialog, and all--though fans of the original game will still find a certain charm in the original graphics. However, the new graphics look great, much like how our imaginations made the game look to us the first time we fired it up back in 1990.

What There Is to Do: Like in the original game, you must walk around as Guybrush, interact with objects and people (using a handy interaction menu that pulls up an icon-based menu of all possible interactions with something or someone in the world, such as "pick up" or "talk to"), meet and fall in love with Elaine Marley, and end up at odds with a dastardly pirate named LeChuck. To make progress in the game, you'll primarily collect items and talk to people, using combinations of items and answers to riddles to solve the game's various puzzles and advance your progress.

How the Game Is Played: This is a point-and-click adventure game that lets you use your Xbox 360 controller (and presumably your computer mouse) to direct Guybrush throughout the world, seek out clues, talk with characters, and generally be a smart aleck. The game will also have a three-layer hint system that lets you ask for a superficial hint on what to do next, a more in-depth hint, and finally, a blunt and slightly-less-than-polite spoiler that will tell you exactly where to go next. Guybrush's adventures will turn him into an apprentice pirate, a human cannonball, and a dog whisperer, among other things.

What They Say: This is the game that the remaining adventure fans on the LucasArts staff have been dreaming of making, and should the Xbox Live and PC versions of the game sell many copies, there might possibly be hope of seeing the game on other platforms, such as the Nintendo DS, which seems like it'd be well-suited for point-and-click gameplay.

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What We Say: This really seems to be everything that LucasArts claims it will be: a graphical and audio overhaul of a classic game with a built-in history lesson. The game will be released later this year.

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