The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

aka: The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition for iPad
Moby ID: 41611
Windows Specs

Description official description

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is an enhanced remake of the classic adventure game The Secret of Monkey Island (1990) about the adventures of Guybrush Threepwood to become a pirate.

The gameplay is completely identical, but has been re-mastered. It includes an updated hand-drawn art style for high resolutions with more fluent animations, an orchestral music score, full voice-overs and an in-game hint system with clues to help players who get stuck. At any time while playing, players are able to switch between the original game and the enhanced version in real-time.

There are various ways to control the game. Unlike the original game, the possible verbs for actions and the inventory are not shown constantly on the screen. In the Windows version, the mouse is used to walk around and perform the default action for objects, the cursor can be changed by using the scrolling wheel, players can press a key to bring up a box with all possible verbs (as well as the inventory) and finally certain actions are also specifically bound to the keyboard keys. Next to the regular save system, there is also an autosave function.

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Credits (Windows version)

304 People (250 developers, 54 thanks) · View all

Project Lead
Executive Producer
Production Manager
Art Director
Senior Concept Artists
Senior Graphic Designer
Additional Art
Senior Game Designers
Additional Design
Technical Director
Lead Engineers
Lead PC Engineer
Rendering Engineer
Core Engineers
Gameplay Engineers
Code Archeologist
STRAT Interns
Additional Programming
[ full credits ]



Average score: 86% (based on 41 ratings)


Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 95 ratings with 5 reviews)

Only buy if you do not have the original game.

The Good
The original Secret of Monkey Island was the classic DOS game from 1990 that put Lucas Arts on to the map. It features memorable dialogue (“I can hold my breath under water for 10 minutes”), a sharp witted loser of a protagonist and a grog recipe that’s so dangerous, that 19 years after the games release, an Argentine news station was fooled into thinking it was the hottest (and deadliest) drink shared among todays youth, and was publically humiliated by the gaming press. The games style and humour is a mash-up of fantasy and pop culture, which predates the first Shrek film, by 11 years. Its plot, is widely believed by fans and creator Ron Gilbert to have been the subject of an unofficial adaption into the recent Pirates of the Caribbean films.

Yet nearly 20 years after the games release, Lucasarts in an unprecedented move, decided to re-release the game with newly drawn HD artwork, orchestrated music, and a complete voice over soundtrack featuring the cast from Curse of Monkey Island. How does it follow up well read on.

SPOILERS In the games opening chapter, we see Guybrush Threepwood, who desperately wants to prove that he can be a pirate. He arrives on Melee Island and is directed to a trio of pirates who will take him through a series of trials testing his fighting, thievery, and treasure hunting skills. During his trials, Guybrush learns meets the beautiful Elaine Marley, a strong and independent governor who is attracted to his foolishness. Elaine is also the subject of attraction of LeChuck, an undead Sea captain that has all pirates on Melee Island running scared. LeChuck successfully kidnaps Elaine and heads off for the mysterious Monkey Island. Determined to save her, Guybrush gathers a ship and crew and takes pursuit. SPOILERS END

The Secret of Monkey Island SE, uses the exact same design from the original 1990 release and overlays it with HD artwork and a brand new soundtrack. If you are not interested in these features, there is a hotswap button, that allows a smooth transition between the original and the remake on the fly.

The result is that the gameplay is as good as ever in its purest form. The writing is still hilarious, and the puzzles always have far out but logical solutions. I played the original for the first time in 2006, at the age of 14, 16 years after its release, and enjoyed the hell out of it. 5 years later, it is still a blast to play.

The Bad
Sadly however, the hotswap function is the best feature in the Special Edition. The game features a lot of conversations with close ups of the characters. These closeups look beautiful in the original game because of the photorealistic illustrations. These illustrations really made the pirates look terrifying, and as a player you could tell that the they definitely scared the crap out of Guybrush . In the remake, LucasArts deviated from this style , and instead we get characters who look like they are from a storybook based on a Disney film. Worse still there is no lip movement during these conversations. In the original, where there was and still is no voice acting, so the stilted animation looked ok. In the remake , where there is voice acting however, it makes the voices sound like they are coming straight out of an audiobook. The main cast of Domonic Armato, Earl Boen, and Alexandra Gould are still great in their roles as Guybrush, LeChuck and Elaine. Other characters who are speaking for the first time are very forgettable, and sound like the results of a cold reading session. One voice I really have to point out and shoot is the narrator who annoyingly reads the inter-titles. He ruins LeChucks grand entrance and unnecessarily reads out a recipe that’s clearly readable on the screen. I wish there was a way to turn him off and do the reading on my own.

The Bottom Line
It’s a shame that The Secret of Monkey Island has received such a terrible remake, because underneath the jarring voice acting, over the top narration, and poorly animated conversations, there really is a lot of hilarious writing to enjoy. I would recommend that anyone who is keen to play The Secret of Monkey Island for the first time, to download this game on Steam and run it in classic mode and ignore the extras featured in the remake. If you have the original game already, run it through either DOS or SCUMMVM, get a pint of grog, and be prepared relive a hilarious swashbuckling adventure!

Windows · by Gravesy (46) · 2011

Yay, Monkey Island ! But... is the remake good ?

The Good
The first Monkey Island in all its glory, who would say no? As anyone, when this game was announced, I was enthusiastic. I mean, what could go wrong with this remake? As long as the art style was good, there was nothing to be afraid of.

So, what's good in it ? First, the music. While true to the original, the passage from MIDI to real instrument is a blessing. Even if I miss the "warmness" of the original ones, here, it is just nostalgia.

Some continuity. I don't like Armato's voice as Guybrush, but at least Lucasarts didn't disappoint those who like him.

The ability to switch between old & new versions is a good idea, and the morphing is really well executed.

The Bad
Wait, I already know what you are thinking : "What, that's all you throw in the good section ?!" Yeah. I'm sorry.

First, the new graphics are just awful, especially the characters (Honestly, did you take a look at Guybrush ?!). Coupled with the fact it is just an override of the original game, animations don't fit with those new graphics.

Voices actors. When hearing them, I just had the feeling that the voice director at Lucasarts has gone out, asked the first people who came if they wanted to voice a game, and so they did. Another thing about the voices : why the hell am I not able to have them when playing the old version ? In order to stay true to the original way of playing ? It could just have been a great way to rediscover the original game...

Special note when your language is not english (so, english natives, skip this) : 1) This one is understandable, but it's disappointing : why don't we have voices in our languages, since MI3 and 4 had those ? Yeah, right, money... 2) Oh, why don't we have the text when playing in "old" mode in our language ? No, money is not an excuse there, the game has been translated for almost 20 years now.

The Bottom Line
I won't give this a rating.

I am in a situation where I want to give 5/5, just 'cause it is Monkey Island, and 1/5 to the remake, which is just not worth it in my opinion...

So, if what you see here and there on the net pleases you, don't hesitate, take it, I think you'll be happy with it, especially if you never played this masterpiece before. Otherwise, grab out your original Monkey Island, nothing which is worth it here.

Windows · by Alaedrain (3440) · 2009

A special treat for Monkey Island fans

The Good
Ever since its introduction, I was (and still am) a fan of the Monkey Island series. I had played all four games and wrote reviews here on MobyGames. The fourth Monkey Island game, released in 2000, was to be the last game that LucasArts would make, since the company decided to move away from the adventure genre and focus more on the Star Wars universe. When I recently found out by reading a forum that LucasArts was going to do a game entitled The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, the first thing that I did was go to the web site for the game to take a look at the screenshots and do other things there. Then, I went back and played the original game (refer to as the “classic version” from now on.

After that was done, I downloaded the game via Steam and I was up. The first thing that I saw was the comparison between the title of that of the classic version and the new one. The lights at the base of the mountain are replaced with lit-up houses and a few ships. Your character Guybrush starts off at the docks, like he did in the classic version. The view is breathtaking. There is now a huge moon hovering above the moving ocean, and behind the SCUMM bar are the houses you see in the intro. There bit of outdoor scenes in the game, and that moon is still visible in those scenes.

I enjoyed talking to Spiffy the dog (Now you get a close-up of him.) It is funny how Guybrush uses dog language such as “Woof!” and “Yip. Yip. Yip”. LucasArts previously decided not to do a close-up of Spiffy in the disk version due to lack of disk space. The game was also released on CD-ROM, so there there was no reason why Lucas didn't include the close-up in that version.

I still like sword-fighting pirates and throwing insults to help finish the trials, and hearing how those insults sound like. Actually, one of the other things that I did on LucasArt's web site for the game was play a little mini-game that allowed you to throw insults at pirates, so I got a good idea how they would sound like in the game. I just felt that mini-game would be better, not just pictures of Guybrush fighting while he insults.

You can switch between the classic and special editions of the game. The classic is an exact replica of the CD-ROM version, complete with the lack of speech and CD-quality music. It is there in case you feel a little bit of nostalgia; but in my case, I like to switch to it if I am doing tasks that are impossible to do in the special edition (like swapping acid into different mugs before the mug melts or watching the storekeeper open his safe). When you do switch from special to classic, the graphics morphing into the classic version looks amazing, as does the graphics moving upwards so that the original commands appear. You can switch between modes at any time during the game, except when the credits appear at the start of the game.

The orchestral music sounds terrific, and sounds a lot superior to the music from the classic version. The ambient sound provides atmosphere to the game. The highlight for me is walking around the beaches and jungles of Monkey Island, listening to the actual sounds of the jungle.

An on-line hint system is included in the game, so that users that get far into the game and suddenly don't know what to do next can press a key to get a hint. I did not need to do this, because I already printed out a walk-through of the game.

The Bad
The commands are not displayed at the bottom of the screen, so you are expected to press a key that corresponds to the first letter of the command in the classic edition, so press [P] on the keyboard means that you want to “Pick up” something. There is a problem with this technique. In some parts of the game, you have to push and pull things, so it is necessary to bring up the verb menu by pressing [V] and then selecting “Push” or “Pull. Same with the inventory. If you want to use something in your inventory on another object, you have to press [I] first. Because you have to do this, I had the tenancy to press the wrong key (eg: to bring up the verb menu instead of the inventory).

The Bottom Line
Monkey Island SE is a superb remake of the original game, with orchestral music, full speech throughout the game, and an on-line hint system. It also has the ability to switch between the classic and special editions of the game. If you want a bit of nostalgia or just want to do something that you are not able to do in the special edition, the classic edition is there for you if you need it.

Anyone who has played the original game may want to download the special edition just because it features everything that I have just mentioned, and with full voice support. Now except for Monkey Island 2, most of the Monkey Island games have speech throughout them.

Since LucasArts promised that there will be more to come if Monkey Island SE sells – and I believe it certainly well – and as we were promised a sequel in the end credits, Lucas planning on doing a Monkey Island 2 SE would be nice. I read on forums that they would rather see special editions of games that follow it, mainly Day of the Tentacle and Sam & Max Hit the Road. I am not sure if Lucas would want to go that far, though.

Windows · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2009

[ View all 5 player reviews ]



  • 4Players
    • 2009 – #2 Best Xbox Live Arcade Game of the Year
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • February 05, 2009 - Best PC Adventure in 2009
  • IGN
    • 2009 - Best PC Adventure Game
    • 2009 - Best PC Adventure Game (Readers' Choice)

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Related Sites +

  • Developer Diary (Mac)
    A developer diary by Aspyr's Isaac Wankerl on the publisher's NonBlog site which discusses the porting process which brought <em>SMI: Special Edition</em> to the Mac. The article pays particular focus to the game's audio engine and the challenges it posed (May 04th, 2010).
  • The Circle is Complete
    An Apple Games article about the Macintosh version of <em>Monkey Island: Special Edition</em>, with commentary being provided by original creator, designer, and writer, Ron Gilbert (May, 2005).
  • The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
    official game website
  • X360A achievement guide
    X360A's achievement guide for The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Sciere.

Macintosh added by Picard. PlayStation 3 added by Cantillon. Browser added by Kabushi. iPhone, iPad added by Terok Nor.

Additional contributors: formercontrib, Zeppin, Big John WV, Patrick Bregger, Starbuck the Third.

Game added July 19th, 2009. Last modified August 27th, 2023.