The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition Review (Xbox360)

LucasArts adventure darling, The Secret of Monkey Island, has returned in a slick new HD version for the PC and Xbox Live Arcade. Can this 19-year-old video game hold a candle in comparison to today’s standards? Wait a minute, this is The Secret of Monkey Island we are talking about; of course it can! Brilliantly crafted and hilarious till the bitter end, this Special Edition holds true to the series and delivers the goods where it counts most: a gratifying adventure that still stands the test of time.

Newcomers to the series will find that the home of Monkey Island series has a comfortable roof to live under. Once you start the glorious journey through The Secret of Monkey Island, there’s no turning back as it’s a joyous game to become lost in. If you are a returning fan and are wondering if the game has held up, you’ll be glad to hear that only the visuals and voice-overs have changed in this Special Edition – everything else remains the same. Nostalgia doesn’t overcoat the experience as the thrills are as exciting in 2009 as they were in 1990.

Playing as Guybrush Threepwood, gamers join a wonderful story about a man who will do anything to become a pirate. As a point-and-click adventure, it doesn’t get any better than The Secret of Monkey Island. Employing cheerfulness in the dialogue, pointing and clicking your way across the islands as you talk to the natives and interact with objects has never felt better in the last decade. The genre needed the return of Monkey Island; though, Sam & Max and Wallace & Gromit, two superb point-and-click adventures are doing well for themselves too.

With a little bit of trial and error, you’ll be able to perform adequately by solving puzzles with a new hint function that is mapped to the X Button when you hold it down. The puzzles are entertaining as they are difficult, so be prepared for a quest that is unforgettable. Add in the fact that you can’t die, gamers shouldn’t become overly frustrated with the gameplay to have to restart over from a checkpoint or even the entire level.

As a fan of the old art style, I can see where complications will come in with the new HD graphics. But fret not, the visuals are still pleasing on the eyes and shouldn’t hold anyone back from completing The Secret of Monkey Island. While the characters do, in fact, look a little different, at least the animations were able to capture the heart and soul of the original release. On top of that, if you do enjoy the old visuals so much that you can’t play through the Special Edition, the developers have included a feature where you can revert back to the old graphics to see how the old experience holds up. Even the old soundtrack is found with the classic version, so there shouldn’t be any complaints on the updates when you can simply switch on over.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition isn’t without its complications. Interacting with objects with the Xbox 360 controller isn’t the easiest solution to point-and-clicking, and from time to time, there’ll be objects that are hard to click on. While this will easily be overlooked by the fans of the series, newcomers might find it frustrating to struggle to click on the object in front of them. Thankfully, the hint button will help out everyone in assisting in figuring out where to click – unless you are totally against the addition since you want to play it true to the original.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is an excellent arcade title that should find a home with new and old fans alike. The adventure can last anywhere from six to nine hours depending on how you play, but rest assured, every minute spent with this game is outstanding.

Top Game Moment:
Learning new insults for Guybrush to retort.