What do you get when you combine LucasArts and Point & Click adventure games? A great number of hilarious titles. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is an updated remake of the computer classic by the same name(minus the Special Edition) for the PC and Xbox 360.
Hopefully the first in a long line of remakes, Monkey Island SE is LucasArts returning to their most critically embraced home. The game is, in large, the same as it was when the game was originally made. In fact, the Special Edition features the game as it was originally made, accessible by the press of a simple button.
Original form aside, the game is graphically and audibly remade from the ground up. The old 256 color pixelated models have been redrawn for with greater detail and better support for HD. All of the old MIDI sound files have been remastered brilliantly.
The changes to the graphics are rather noticeable compared to the original version, the game even starts showing you these major differences from the start of the game. The normal animations have their faults, sometimes lacking extra frames or being reused repeatedly, but the graphics really shine is on the close ups.
The art style used in the close ups draw more from the more recent sequels, such as The Curse of Monkey Island, Escape from Monkey Island and the recent release of Tales of Monkey Island, rather than the photo realistic pictures of the original. All has been redrawn in beautiful detail. The ability to jump back and forth between versions only makes this more apparent.
The remastered and newly added sound pieces are probably among my favorite changes. The music amazingly redone to feature actual instruments instead of the dated MIDI soundtrack so frequently used in the older PC games. The transition from the old to the new, heard in the first few minutes of the game, sent shivers up my spine.
Not everyone is going to love the new remastered music though. You might not even notice it often. What you will notice is the addition of voices through out the entire game. Every single character, regardless of how large of the role they have in the game, has a voice actor. Even the animals have voice actors.
The quality of the voice acting is astounding and refreshing. Hearing those great sword fighting lines with a perfectly casted voice is just so unbelievably gratifying.
The major flaw with the game would probably be the gameplay itself. If you want a puzzle game and want to laugh while playing it then you’re going to love Monkey Island:SE. If you want a high action shooter, hack and slash or what have you, this isn’t your game.
Even if you just want a laugh and have trouble working out the puzzles the game helps. Pressing and holding the X button(on the Xbox 360) triggers a hint. Three levels, getting less vague as you use them. If you aren’t one for using GameFAQs then the feature will help a great deal.
With the game originally being a PC title changes had to be made, specifically to the user interface. All of the commands, like pick up, talk to, pull, ect. have been mapped to a more simplified setting. On the 360 these functions are access either through the D-pad, which is a bit hit and miss, or through bringing up an quick use menu with the left trigger.
The controls work fine, but using trial and error to figure out which button is the one you want or having to block the entire screen seems a bit wasteful. The addition of a small command wheel in the corner would have been a welcome addition. That being said, you don’t find yourself too frustrated with the command system in the game.
The game isn’t exceptionally long, but makes up for it in loads with it’s great humor and great production values. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is well worth the 10 dollar price. Now let’s just get more remakes, I wants me an updated Grim Fandango.