Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Retro Review: The Secret of Monkey Island SE

I am often saddened that my friends - in my formative years - were not as geeky or nerdy as I was. It may have been that I did not have a wide group of geeks to get new ideas for games to play or it may just be that the internet was not what it is today. The end result was that I missed out on a lot of older games that I am now finding myself enjoying.

"Look behind you, a three headed monkey!"

Not going to fall for that? Well then, this review is all I have: 

The Secret of Monkey Island SE comes with both the HD revamped graphics (that makes it a Special Edition) and the classic edition. For purposes of this review and my personal enjoyment I decided to play the classic edition before indulging myself in the new graphical style. I wanted to experience what I did not have the chance to all the way back in 1990.

The game starts on Melee Island with Guybrush Threepwood looking to become a pirate. The beginning of the game starts when Guybrush arrives at a village on Melee Island, somewhere in the Carribean.

The game is witty, clever and is often hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occassion. They do not make games like this anymore but with any luck the success of this and the new Tales of Monkey Island series the adventure game genre might be revitalized. The "point and click" controls transfer over well to the controller as they did with Sam and Max Save The World. There are times where the player has to "click" back and forth numerous times where the controls can become cumbersome but other than that playing the game with a game controller is a breeze. If you have not played the game before you will know what I am talking about when it gets to the mug o' grog and the storekeeper's safe parts.

One of the best parts of the game is that I do not think the nostalgia factor is lost on me. The game was made for someone my age, probably by guys who were my age at the time (mid 20s). I do not think I could have appreciated this game at the ripe age of five. I do have a nostalgia for the graphical style which is really nothing more than a few pixels heaped together. There are close-ups of the characters at certain points and one can tell that this took up the primary portion of the game's memory.

The story is simple, unbelievable, short and sweet. It is the exact story that one should expect from this game. In less words, the story was great.

Where the game succeeded in story the game lacked in challenging puzzles. The answers to puzzles were often common sense or just involved clever word use. The game still makes one feel rewarded for having solved the puzzle at hand if only barely so.

Because there are definitive answers to everything the second run through of the game was considerably less exciting than the first but I did switch to the new graphical style so that it would still feel fresh.

The controls for the SE version of the game are only okay and they feel more cumbersome than the classic version's controls. The D-Pad is used as a hot key for quickly selecting actions (ex. pick up, give, etc.) and while this works, it does not necessarily work well. The 360 controller's mushy pad is most likely at fault here but it still put a damper on the gameplay when I had to push my finger to the upper right of the D-Pad several times before I could select the "use" action.

The achievements also add to the replayability but once again, if you know what they are (they are all secret achievements (get it?)), you will probably only be playing through the game twice. I managed to mop up all of the gamerscore on three playthroughs but I would still say that I only spent 10 hours with the game.

Having just finished the game I can see that the jokes far outlive the short amount of time that you will spend with the game so if that adds value for you then this is your game.

At the end of the day the game is worth its ten dollar asking price (but never pay more than 20 dollars for a game) because it made me feel richer for the experience. Game's do not often make jokes at their own expense and when they do these days it might turn out to be something like Matt Hazard.

No comments: