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The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition Preview

The Secret of Monkey Island is without a doubt one of the greatest adventure games of all time. The title's clever puzzles, witty dialogue and humorous tone made the whole experience great fun and the rest of the series followed suit. 19 years on and Secret is being remade as a special edition heading to both the PC and Xbox Live. Whilst this initially had me worried, after seeing the game in action, this is the kind of faithful update that fans dream of.

Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition Screenshot 1

Staying true to the original but bringing a game up-to-date is always a difficult task but LucasArts appear to have hit the nail on the head here. The team behind The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition know the series well and are clearly huge fans which allows this remake to capture the feel of the games. Instead of just being a simple update there are plenty of new features present to make this appeal to a different generation.

The most immediate change is the visual style of the special edition which is markedly different from the 256 colours of the original. The update has over a hundred richly detailed hand-painted backdrops which are not only beautiful but true to the series. Moving through the locations they are instantly recognisable and somehow still retain the atmosphere of their pixellated counterparts. Characters too have been given a digital overhaul and seem familiar but noticeably crisper. The new design is impressive and easily does the series justice, capturing everything that was great about Secret.

Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition Screenshot 2

Not only are the graphics improved but the game's soundtrack has been completely rerecorded. The classic background music is still recognisable but is now recorded on a range of instruments and sounds more elaborate without being overbearing. Things don't stop there and perhaps the most exciting new feature is the addition of voice acting. Using most of the voice cast from Curse of Monkey Island, including Dominic Armato as Guybrush Threepwood, the spoken dialogue feels right at home. As a Monkey Island fan I found revisiting classic encounters and conversations with voice actors ridiculously exciting.

Not stopping there the menu system has been stripped down and revised. Whilst in the original it seemed second nature to have the various actions listed along the bottom of the screen, in the special edition they have been altered. No longer do you lose so much space and the menu now pops up at the press of a button. This streamlined and improved process is much better and means that you can enjoy the game in full screen 1080i.

Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition Screenshot 3

In order to keep The Secret of Monkey Island as accessible as ever, the developers felt that a new strategy was needed for today's gamers. With so many people resorting to guides from the internet these days, this update features a three level hints system. This decision was made to avoid breaking people's immersion in the game and to keep within the spirit of the series. At the first level of hints, an oblique clue is displayed suggesting you go to a certain location or think about a certain clue. The next stage will give you a little more direction and the final step is to display a gigantic arrow pointing to where you need to go or to the object you require. Whilst this will no doubt have fans gasping in horror, for new players, it is nice to know that it is there and is done in good humour.

Alongside all these innovations The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition provides the original game. This isn't some kind of unlockable bonus, but the new version has been built entirely on top of the original. At the press of a button it is possible to switch back and forth, almost seamlessly, from new game to old. This is a little strange at first, but the transition is great and it is a real joy to have this option. Considering the difficulty of obtaining copies of the original today, it is welcome to have this remake which comes complete with the original.

Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition Screenshot 4

The attention to detail found in this update is fantastic to see. When I was chatting to LucasArts they mentioned that they had reinstated the close up of Spiffy the dog. The infamous canine, found in the Scumm bar early in the game, had a close up during Guybrush's "conversation" with him, but this was removed as the game was 2kb over its space quota for the disc. This level of commitment and understanding of the series is rarely seen in remakes and I am thoroughly looking forward to revisiting such a classic title when The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition is released this summer.

evilgiraffeman | 10th June, 2009
Dead Alive's picture
The hint system is exactly the same as Broken Sword's re-release on the Wii/DS.

It worked really well on there for those who would need it. Regardless of anything...anything at all. I will be buying this and playing it several times over with a gawky grin on my face and laughing (possibly more than i should) at every recognisable joke spoken out loud.

Can't wait!
Looks good although i'm not sure personally of the remake of the original as yet so its good you can still swap back.

Thanks for the preview.
TimmyShire's picture
Good stuff.

I love Monkey Island, it's possibly one of my favourite games/series of all time so it'll be good to be able to play it again. If I'm honest, I'll probably play it in old game mode, as I loved it then so I'd no doubt love it now. It would also stop me from using those hints...
Si^'s picture
Still have one and two and have recently played them. If anyone can spot what is missing in the big monkey head screen shot. i will give you a beer next lan
djd4ws0n's picture
Quote:
Originally Posted by Si^ View Post
Still have one and two and have recently played them. If anyone can spot what is missing in the big monkey head screen shot. i will give you a beer next lan
I win?
Well looking at that we have a statue of a Tentacle instead of a statue of Max.

I love the way they drop in characters from future games and you pick up on it when you play it again at a later date.
Dead Alive's picture
Quote:
Originally Posted by Si^ View Post
Still have one and two and have recently played them. If anyone can spot what is missing in the big monkey head screen shot. i will give you a beer next lan
The mouth isn't open and if I remember correctly, stairs?

Or just in general, it doesn't have the fangs it has in the original.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Alive View Post
The mouth isn't open and if I remember correctly, stairs?
You haven't forgot you have to open it now have you?
Dead Alive's picture
I have actually.

Gonna play it again over the weekend.
Si^'s picture
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nex View Post
Well looking at that we have a statue of a Tentacle instead of a statue of Max.

I love the way they drop in characters from future games and you pick up on it when you play it again at a later date.
Correct no Max Statue.

Dawson Denied but made me lol

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