Arrr! The hilarious adventures of the Caribbean’s mightiest pirate are back in an enhanced re-release of the classic adventure game The Secret of Monkey Island. Featuring new high-resolution artwork in the style of the original, voice acting by the same actors from The Curse of Monkey Island and a re-recorded soundtrack, this special edition faithfully brings the game into the twenty-first century.
For those of you who are new to LucasArts’ Monkey Island franchise, it’s a series of five (to date) point-and-click adventure games that are what you would get if you put Myst, a Terry Pratchett book and the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and movie in a blender: a hilarious pirate story that requires a bit of thinking to complete.
You play as Guybrush Threepwood, a hapless pirate wannabe who blunders through three quests set upon him by the Pirate Leaders of Melee Island while simultaneously becoming the nemesis of the evil pirate captain LeChuck.
Guybrush must complete the three trials to prove his prowess in “swordplay, thievery, and, er, treasure huntery” before the Pirate Leaders will allow him to call himself a pirate. That entails defeating the Swordmaster at “insult swordfighting,” finding buried treasure and stealing a statue from the Governor’s mansion.
Each task involves a bit of legwork, traveling around the island talking to people and pocketing unattended items. In order to fight the swordmaster, you must first obtain a sword somehow (there are two ways to do so, depending on the order you do things) and then pay for sword lessons.
If you’re expecting Monkey Island swordplay to involve lots of button mashing to swing a blade around, you’ve played too many action games. The characters do all the fighting while you worry about the important part: the insults. At a break in the battle, your opponent will say something like “I got this scar on my face during a mighty struggle!” You must choose the most appropriate response (too many weak retorts will lose you the fight). In this case, you would say “I hope now you’ve learned to stop picking your nose.” If your retort is successful, you get a chance to use one of your insults.
In order to successfully defeat the Swordmaster, you must build up a sufficient repertoire of insults and comebacks by fighting pirates wandering the island.
One character you have to deal with in all three of your quests is an amusingly cantankerous shopkeeper. He’s the one of the few who know where the Swordmaster is, for one. (You can ask the shopkeeper to go talk to her, and then stealthily follow him as he walks halfway across the island.) You also need to buy a shovel from him to dig up the legendary Lost Treasure of Melee Island, and you can optionally purchase a sword.
After working your way through all three of the Pirate Leaders’ tasks, LeChuck captures the Governor and takes her back to his hideout on Monkey Island. So Guybrush decides to put together a crew, buy a ship and go rescue her. This involves convincing three characters to join your crew, stealing a note of credit from the Shopkeeper’s vault after memorizing the combination, and bargaining with Stan the used boat salesman.
Finally, you complete the first half of the game and set sail. After a little bit of navigational voodoo at sea and a mutinous crew, you reach Monkey Island, where many more misadventures await.
The Secret of Monkey Island is one of my favorite games, along with the rest of the series that I have played. (I have yet to try the third and fourth games, as neither has a Special Edition or is widely available currently. Telltale Games’ Tales of Monkey Island is a worthy continuation, though.) It expertly combines the right balance of witty dialogue, slapstick humor, puzzles, story and playability.
The Special Edition release is available on Windows, Mac OS X, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, as well as others.