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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (41003)
Written on  :  Sep 18, 2009
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars

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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.