October 17, 2009

Apparently there are two different endings, too. Wierd.

Back on Talk like a Pirate Day, Steam had a sale, as they usually do. What was on sale? Why, only the most pirate-y games! This included The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition, a game which I had been meaning to pick up anyway. So I did. Then, eventually, I finally got around to playing it, even though I have two whole episodes of Tales of Monkey Island sitting there, unplayed! I am so awesome sometimes.

So how was it?

There were some weird decisions made in this game. They decided to re-draw all the graphics, but not re-animate them? They just redrew the frames. So although the art looks great, it also animates like shit. They then decided to totally re-do the interface on the PC version (mostly to make the XBLA version easier to play, I’m sure) which made the game actually harder to play, just so they could fill the entire screen with graphics. I mean, yes, the whole SCUMM interface is pretty archaic, but there were multiple puzzles that were made HARDER by the new interface, just because there was a time element and it was so cumbersome to interact with. I actually had to hit F10, which switches the entire game back to the original graphics (a nice touch) in order to complete these puzzles. That’s kind of bullshit.

Still, it was great to visit a classic, and see where this series I love quite a bit came from. I had tried it a long while ago, back on a Monkey Island Collection disc, but I just couldn’t get into it. I need voices in my Adventure games! I just suck like that. Luckily, Lucasarts did a great job getting everyone they needed to get in on this game, and it sounds great. Although I do have to admit I was surprised to learn that I agree with Chris Remo on the voices. In this early game, Guybrush was not, by default, a lovable cartoon character that is voiced so well by Dominic Armato. Depending on what you chose, he could very well be a very serious guy. There are almost always options for being an actual swashbuckling adventurer as opposed to a comedy guy, something that’s mostly gone in something like Curse of Monkey Island. As such, Armato’s voice does potentially detract from the game a little. Not enough to ruin the fun, but it’s interesting to note. I could definitely see how someone who played the original back in the day might not like it.

Those are pretty well the only drawbacks to the game, though. The game, while old, is still amazingly clever. Even though Insult Swordfighting had been iterated on several times in future games, the original was still quite a lot of fun and funny to read. The text in the game is very strong comedy, and there are only one or two bullshit puzzles in the whole thing, and those I solved with just a couple of presses of the new in-game hint system, which does a pretty good job of keeping you from having to go to a walkthrough if you’re stuck.

So yeah, I totally got my $5 worth. As Guybrush says at the end of the game, Never pay more than $20 for a computer game. So I didn’t. If you’re in the least interested in the history of the series, you owe it to yourself to pick it up for $10 or whatever. It’s a good time. Now here’s hoping they get Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge Special Edition underway at some point. Cause once again, I’d love to play through it and see more history, but damn. Voices, man! I need voice acting!

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