This game is an absolute gem.
Otis: Oh, come on. Don't be bitter. I'm here to help. Not just for the money.
Guybrush Threepwood: Money?
Carla: Yeah, we are getting paid for this, right?
Guybrush Threepwood: How appropriate. You fight like a cow.
Carla: You never did know when to use that one.
To any of you who played this back in the early 1990’s that quote should have caused an uncontrollable grin to play across your face. The Secret of Monkey Island (hereafter referred to as Monkey Island) is nothing if not utterly hilarious and LucasArts have finally seen fit to catalyse a point and click renaissance, thankfully the iPhone is not being left out in the cold.
Monkey Island, for the handful of youngsters reading this that never got to experience the original, is a dialog heavy adventure game that see’s you playing the role of Guybrush Threepwood, a young man on a quest to become a genuine bonafied pirate. You move around a Caribbean island by quite literally pointing and clicking where you want Guybrush to move. An actions menu allows you to interact with things in the environment letting you push, pull, pick up, give, use whatever you may come across. As a rule you’ll generally want to try and pick up anything, who knows when it might be useful later!
The iPhone rendition has a slightly revised interface that initially put me off but after ten minutes of adjusting to it I soon came to love it. Instead of simply tapping where you want on the screen you instead use your finger to drag a pointer around the screen. It will seem slow and counter intuitive at first but it allows for far more precision, furthermore the pointer has an icon next to it which indicates which action is currently selected. Though “walk to” is the default command you can select the others from a menu, alternatively a context sensitive command can be used by double tapping. For instance if you hover over a pirate your cursor will indicate that a single tap will cause you to walk to him while in the top left of the screen it will say “Talk to” letting you know that a double tap will initiate a conversation instead. It’s an elegant solution and one you will come to appreciate.
As you may have noticed this is a Special Edition of the game and as such it boasts a whole fresh coat of paint with beautifully redrawn graphics and new character animations. Not only that but all of the lines of dialogue are now voice acted and voice acted brilliantly. Perhaps the coolest feature however is the ability to switch seamlessly at any moment between the new graphics and interface to the original pixelated graphics from the original release by simply sliding two fingers across the screen. It’s a wonderful feature and it becomes great fun to swipe across now and then to see how faithfully the new art team recreated the original scenes (Spoiler: they are recreated excellently).
I could talk at length about the ingenious puzzles you’ll have to solve in Monkey Island, they are numerous and oftentimes utterly bizarre. It’s not unusual to find yourself stumped for quite a length of time, at least this was the case back in the 1990’s! Fortunately for the uninitiated LucasArts have built in a superb hint system that will save you the effort of hunting down an FAQ or game walkthrough. Whenever you find yourself at a loss for what to do next simply shake your iDevice and a hint will appear, a second shake will produce an even bigger hint that basically tells you what to do next. This can be particularly useful if you haven’t played the game for a few days and can’t remember where you were or what you were doing.
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is an absolutely essential purchase. At £4.99 it’s cheaper than purchasing the same game on any other system and you have the added benefit of being able to play it anywhere at any time. The production values are immense, the story is superb and the writing is as hilarious today as it was almost two decades ago. Buy this immediately and with any luck LucasArts will give this same love and care to future iPhone re-releases. Allow me to leave you with another classic...
Meathook: You've got a real attitude problem!
Guybrush: Well...you've got a real hair problem!
Meathook: You just don't know when to quit, do you?
Guybrush: Neither did your barber.
- Sound: 9
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 10
- Longevity: 8
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