The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition is a remake of the classic point and click adventure by LucasArts. It replaced the old, low resolution pixel art with amazing painted scenes and hand-drawn characters based on original concept art.
The game also has some quality of life improvements, such as the saviour of frustrated point and click adventurers – a hint system. This is my first time playing, or even seeing, a Monkey Island game. I can safely say this is a very strong start to the series of games and I’m now playing through the fourth game in the series.
My first recommendation for new players would be to read the help pages. I was wandering around like an idiot for an hour, talking to everyone in sight, unable to progress because I didn’t know there was a verb menu. The verb menu gives you lots of options for interacting with the environment: talk to, look at, push, pull, pick up, use etc. Without this, all I could do is look at things and talk to people.
Something I was completely unaware of on my first playthrough is that you can switch between the original game and the modern game by hitting F10. As low resolution as the first game may be, it has some pretty incredible pixel art so it’s worth flicking between!
In The Secret of Monkey Island, you play as the ridiculously named Guybrush Threepwood on his quest to become a pirate. After a conversation with a near-blind lookout, Guybrush enters the SCUMM bar on Melee Island to find out how to become a pirate from the three pirate leaders.
The SCUMM bar is a reference to the video game engine used to make these point and click adventures – Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion. The pirates will give you a series of tasks you must complete; defeat the Sword Master of Melee Island, find some treasure and steal something from the governor’s mansion.
As you progress through the game you’ll get cutscenes to show what’s going on with evil ghost pirate LeChuck. LeChuck will eventually become an important part of the story, but for now Guybrush will just mess around on his quest to become a pirate.
There’s a few areas open at the start of the game, so Guybrush can walk around, get his bearings and talk to the locals. Talking to people will often give you useful information, so keep a keen ear out for any clues that might be worth remembering.
Once you’re done exploring the areas, you’ll find there’s a couple of things you can do; you can try and negotiate with a troll who’s blocking your path, or you can head to the circus and help out some of the performers who are arguing over who gets to be shot out of a cannon.
The cannon puzzle I worked out without much trouble, but the troll had the most hilariously ridiculous solution. It requires you to give him a specific item and the troll gives you a clue to determine what the item is. My issue with this was the way you actually obtain this item – there’s not really any clues to show you what to do, so most people probably accidentally stumbled on the solution.
Fortunately the newly implemented hint system came to save me in this situation. I feel bad for those who played this game with no internet access.
Defeating the Sword Master is my favourite part of the game. First you have to obtain a sword. An aspiring pirate you may be, but sadly Guybrush can’t get away with obvious theft, so you need to earn some Pieces of Eight before you get your sword.
Once you’ve purchased your sword, you have to practice a bit of sword fighting before you can face the Sword Master.
The sword fighting is entirely done through the point and click interface. Rather than developing actual sword wielding skills, you have to learn insults and retorts to get the upper hand over your opponents. Once you think you’ve learnt enough insults, you may go challenge the Sword Master to try and best her. Well, you have to actually find where the Sword Master lives first.
When you face the Sword Master, she has some fresh insults that you won’t have heard before, but from your repetoire of retorts you learnt, you can come up with some snappy comebacks to defeat her. She admits defeat, and hands you a commemorative T-Shirt to prove you’ve beaten her.
Brawl at the Governor’s Mansion
This game is filled with jokes and fourth-wall breaking humour, and the best example of this is when you break into Governor Marley’s mansion. A fight between Guybrush and the Sherriff takes place. Guybrush handles this himself and the brawl requires no player input.
The fight takes place almost entirely in a room off-camera, and the only way we know what is happening is by reading the point and click interface. An excessively long scene entails involving a quarrelsome rhinoceros, a tremendous yak, wax lips and any amount of other things.
Onto Monkey Island
Once you’ve gathered all three commemorative T-Shirts to prove your worth as a pirate, disaster strikes. Evil ghost pirate LeChuck kidnaps the Governor and Melee Island falls into despair.
Since Guybrush has somewhat of a crush on the Governor, he must head out to rescue her. To do so he must assemble a crew, obtain a ship and set sail to Monkey Island.
The next part of the game is onboard the ship, and we have to work out how to make it to Monkey Island using the clues available – such as the previous ship owner’s Captain’s Log. I did have some trouble here because it’s easy for interactible items to blend in with the background. Most puzzles I couldn’t solve was simply because I didn’t have the right item.
Eventually we will land on Monkey Island and our crew will decide they don’t want to help us anymore, leaving us to explore Monkey Island on our own. Here we’ll find an expansive tropical island with a tribe of cannibals living here. They’re quite polite and health-concious, however, and will help us find our way to LeChuck’s ship.
After our escapades on Monkey Island, we find LeChuck’s lair and his ship. By some twist of fate, it turns out that LeChuck plans to marry Governor Marley on…Melee Island. So we head back to where we started to stop the wedding.
As it happens, we did pick up some useful items on Monkey Island which we can use to melt ghost pirate LeChuck and save the Governor, so it wasn’t a total waste of time.
After a few short scenes, we see that Governor Marley actually had the whole situation under control and our journey was essentially a huge waste of time, but we dissolve ghost pirate LeChuck anyway and she appreciates the effort, so Guybrush and the Governor have a happy ending. Until Monkey Island 2, anyway!
The Secret of Monkey Island is a well remembered classic for a reason, it has well thought out puzzles, a very good sense of humour and a great cast of characters to meet. The Special Edition brings it into the modern world with amazing artwork and full voice acting.