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The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Good Old Games
Developer: LucasArts
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition takes one of the original LucasArts point-and-click adventure games (and arguably the most successful franchise of that genre) and gives it a massive makeover, while still allowing those who want to experience the game in its original 1990 glory that original experience whenever they want.

The Special Edition means that all graphics of the game were redone, so everything from Guybrush to the backdrops of the island have a new, modern visual flair to them. The modernized look has more than a passing resemblance to the style used in the Telltale Tales of Monkey Island series, which is nice for gamers who aren't as familiar with the series' older titles. The other feature that makes the graphics of the Special Edition stand out is the ability to toggle between the new visuals and the classic pixelated graphics.

Flipping between the modern and classic styles does more than change the graphics though. The game reverts back to its roots so much that the new audio (both reworked music and new dialogue) goes away. That's right, not only was the game's original soundtrack redone to be a much richer sound, but the voice actors used in later titles were called in to read the dialogue from the original game, and both updates to the game's audio sound great.


WhileThe Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition has been given a visual and audio overhaul, the core gameplay and story remain pretty much untouched.

You play young Guybrush Threepwood, a want-to-be pirate who arrives at Melee Island to be declared an official pirate by the island's leaders. Each one of them gives him a task, and each of these missions has a ridiculous and amusing set of prerequisites. Threepwood's three quests including winning a sword fight with the island's swordmaster, stealing a priceless artifact from the governor's mansion and uncovering some hidden treasure, and while completing these quests are Guybrush's first challenge, when the island gets overtaken by a crew of pirate ghosts, the game takes a new direction.

The Ghost Pirate LeChuck not only nabs the island's governor (and Threepwood's new crush), Elaine Marley, be he also takes her to the mysterious Monkey Island. There Guybrush is faced with a new set of tasks and quests in order to rescue the Governor and dispel LeChuck (supposedly for good).

Not only does The Secret of Monkey Island set up the characters and the world for the rest of the Monkey Island series, but it also sets the tone. The Secret of Monkey Island is filled with gags, odd takes on pirate culture and at least a couple of unexpected solutions to puzzles, all of which are referenced heavily in the other four games in this series (including the more recent Telltale Game's release).


Like a lot of adventure games, The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition's true difficulty test is the first time you play through it. Any subsequent play (even those with multiple paths or those you haven't played in a long time) will not be as hard because you've gotten through the puzzles already. That being said, I apparently forgot many of the nuances of The Secret of Monkey Island when it came time to boot up the Special Edition for the first time. I remembered a lot of the big puzzles, like the insult duel and what eventually goes into Guybrush's magical brew, but I had to re-solve most of the smaller puzzles. I do remember the game being harder back during my first play through, but I think that was due more to inexperience as a gamer than the difficulty of the puzzles. Even so, I would grant the original Monkey Island game a solid medium difficulty for a player taking it on for the first time. The occasional absurd solution to puzzles is enough to slow down most fans of the genre.

Game Mechanics:

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition's two visual modes have different feels to them when it comes to point-and-click adventuring. The classic view brings back the Verbs and Inventory boxes that were iconic for these early SCUMM games, while the modernized version has a streamlined U.I. with context-sensitive hotspots that suggest what you might want to do to the item you're hovering over rather than forcing you to choose an action. The classic view is the foundation to most point-and-click adventures and has a certain level of charm, not to mention the nostalgia factor, but the streamlined U.I. means more screen real estate for the Monkey Island world. While either mode keeps the game firmly in the standard point-and-click model, being able to switch between the views at the tap of a key makes it obvious just how much the genre's mechanics have been simplified.

The visual overhaul of the game means that newer gamers who have enjoyed the more recent Monkey Island tales are more likely to enjoy this classic adventure. This same overhaul, plus the ability to go back to the older style, means that anyone who loved the first game should have no problems wanting to grab the Special Edition. You can't even complain that the game was "ruined" but updating the classic look, and given the fact that the same voice actors for the subsequent games were involved in doing the voicework for this one, I feel like any complaint over the new audio aspects is moot as well. Obviously, The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition isn't for everyone, but it should at least be considered for anyone with an interest in the adventure genre.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP/Vista/7/8, Intel Pentium 4 3GHz or AMD Athlon 64 3000+ Processor, 256 MB RAM, 512 MB for Vista, 128 MB with Shader Model 2.0 capability DirectX: 9.0c (March 2009) Graphics Card, 2.5GB free hard drive space, DirectX 9.0c compliant sound card, Xbox 360 Controller Supported

Test System:

Windows 8.1 64-bit, Intel i7-4770K 3.5GHz, 8 GB RAM, Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Card, DirectX 11

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