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Written by  :  Stijn Daneels (85)
Written on  :  May 01, 2015
Platform  :  PlayStation 3
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars

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Summary

Raise the anchor and get Jolly Roger in the sky! We're heading for Monkey Island!

The Good

Aye! The Secret of Monkey Island is yet another of these awesome adventure games that I didn't give myself the time to play until recently. Yeah, you could consider me a contemptible sneak. After having regained my appetite for classic adventure games after playing Gabriel Knight - Sins of the Fathers, I downloaded Monkey Island I and II from PSN at a discounted price. And having finished this first iteration of the legendary Monkey Island franchise, I've become very hungry for more!

Just as a reminder, this review is about the Special Edition of the game. I've never played the original version when it first came out, so no nostalgia goggles for me. The original version, however, is included with the special edition and I played both versions of the game consecutively so I'll make a few comparisons between them.

You play as Guybrush Threepwood, a young, naive everyman who has but one ambition in life: he wants to become a pirate! Unfortunately, Guybrush has few pirate-related talents, he fights like a dairy farmer, looks like a flooring inspector, can't swim and stutters like crazy when he encounters beautiful women. He can, however, hold his breath for ten straight minutes, so that certainly deserves some praise! Not to mention that he has the brass balls to enter a ghost ship filled with undead pirates all by himself!

But becoming a pirate isn't an easy task, as Guybrush not only has to complete certain trails and has to find a ship and crew, but he also has to face off with the infamous ghost pirate LeChuck, who rules over the Caribbean with an undead iron fist! LeChuck keeps all other pirates to the land and, worst of all, he kidnaps Guybrush's lover, the beautiful governor Elaine Marley! Guybrush wastes not a single minute and goes to the rescue, a trip that will take him to the mystical Monkey Island, with inhabits idol-worshipping cannibals, lava-filled caverns and let's not forget, a three-headed monkey!

The Secret of Monkey Island is a point-and-click adventure using Lucasarts' famous SCUMM engine. The basics for this engine (and the gameplay as a whole) is that you pick a verb, than you click on an object in your environment or in your inventory and see what happens. For example, chose the verb "talk to" and then click on a person on the screen to have a chat with him/her. Or take the verb "use," take the chunk of meat from your inventory and then click on the bowling stew pot to put the meat into it. Don't let the huge number of different verbs fool you, this interface is very easy to get used to since it uses simple common sense! The conversations you have in the game are really fun because you can either politely ask for information or downright insult the person you're talking to! Or you can trick them into thinking you're selling fine leather jackets! It's really fun to experiment with different phrases and see how the person you're speaking with will respond to them!

The game's story has many hilarious and memorable moments. One of them is the sword fighting in the first act. Rather than real fencing, you have to out insult your opponent. You learn these insults and their respective responses when you duel with random pirates. My personal favorite insult is: "My handkerchief will wipe up your blood!" A phrase you can rub back into your opponent's face by saying: "So you got that job as janitor, after all." Another fun moment is when you stand on the Monkey Island mountain, go to the far right side of the mountain top and fall into the abyss! You get a "death message" and seconds later you float back to the top of the mountain. A very clever nod to the many bizarre deaths in the Sierra adventure games! Speaking of death scenes, there virtually are no possible ways to die in this game, except when you really have Guybrush hold his breath for more than ten minutes!

The game's graphics are really great. The remake uses hand-drawn images and they give the game a really cool comic book look. It also has some nice special effects and the water in particular is really magnificent to watch. The original version looks more realistic and has more of a painting look. Anyway, you can always switch between the two styles with the mere press of a button on your keyboard or game pad. I found myself doing that a lot during my first playthrough just to see how a particular character or scene looked like in the original version.

But of course, a good adventure game also needs clever puzzles that will challenge your brain cells but whose solutions make sufficient sense. Fortunately, the puzzles in this game aren't too hard, sometimes the solution is less than obvious but if you carefully listen to the dialogue and the description Guybrush gives to certain objects you can certainly solve most if not all of the game's puzzles! And if necessary, you can always access the in-game hint system, that gradually gives you the full solution the more you use it for a particular problem.

This Special Edition has a remade soundtrack using real instruments and voice-acting for all characters. The music in the game is simply perfect, it features flutes, trumpets and drums and they give the game a very light-hearted, upbeat feel. It really gets me in the mood to set course for a grand adventure! The remake's soundtrack is identical in tunes to the original version but the latter uses MIDI rather than orchestra. Both versions are very enjoyable to listen to.

As for the voices, Guybrush Threepwood is voiced by Dominic Armato and Earl Boen takes on the phantom boots of LeChuck. These two actors in particular did a splendid job in bringing their characters to life and they really add to the game's atmosphere. The original version features no voice-acting, so people who enjoy a good read can switch to that version.

The Bad

Act one and three feature giant map screens wherein some locations you need to visit are barely visible on them. Your best bet is to scroll your cursor over every single pixel on the map in order to find all the locations you can visit.

The game is also pretty short, the second and the final act of the game in particular are extremely short. I wished that the game had two or three more chapters. One additional sequence could have been that your ship gets shipwrecked on your road to Monkey Island and that you need to repair your ship using equipment you find underwater or on the island you got stranded on.

The Bottom Line

One of the funniest adventure games I've ever played. The Secret of Monkey Island is another timeless classic that features everything you could want from an adventure game. An engaging story, memorable characters, a user-friendly interface and excellent puzzles. In addition, the game's pirate theme and light-hearted atmosphere really make the game really shine! Highly recommended to every gamer out there, even those who have little interest in adventure games. And now, I want to be a pirate!