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Written by  :  Paul Graves (42)
Written on  :  Dec 29, 2011
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars

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Summary

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!