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Monkey Island Special Edition Collection

For those who already harbour fond memories of this beloved LucasArts adventure, more troublesome questions remain. First and foremost, have they mucked it up? The words "special edition" have taken on a less than enticing air when applied to projects connected with George Lucas, and the prospect of Star Wars-style tampering must surely cause concern to long-serving fans. Thankfully, this makeover is purely technical in nature. The whole game has been redrawn and reanimated in HD, and the soundtrack re-recorded with real actors and musicians, but the game itself remains mercifully untouched. It's the same script, the same puzzles, the same brilliant gags. Even Mr Lucas' fish-munching cameo remains unaltered.

Monkey Island Special Edition Collection

The change in control has been less successful. The classic mode still uses the old LucasArts on-screen menu of actions and inventory items, but the special edition version uses a rather less intuitive combination of pop-up radial menus. The A and B buttons act as left and right mouse-clicks, making movement and basic interaction simple enough, but the d-pad doubles as a quick select for actions and its problematic diagonals means that finding essential commands such as "Use" becomes a bit of a fiddle. Chaining a sequence of actions together with inventory items is just clumsy enough to be annoying, especially when faced with a timed challenge such as the melting grog mugs, and I actually found myself switching back to the 1990 point-and-click menu for these moments. Sometimes the old ways really are the best.

Each game in the series features cameo appearances by Steve Purcell's characters Sam & Max, who were featured in their own LucasArts adventure game, Sam & Max Hit the Road. These are replaced by the purple tentacle from yet another LucasArts adventure game Day of the Tentacle in the special edition versions.

The outset of LeChuck's Revenge finds Guybrush in a tight spot, dangling midair with a treasure chest in one hand and a lifeline in the other. Of course, there's no better time to begin a lengthy retelling of how he managed to get himself into that predicament, and soon enough, you are whisked into the past to live out Guybrush's tale. Your first port of call is Scabb Island, a pirate haven inhabited by washed-up swashbucklers and local businesses that cater to the corsair crowd (including a woodworker specializing in peg legs, a nervous cartographer, and the International House of Mojo). There's also a pirate bully running extortion rackets, and dealing with him is the first major step in an adventure that spans multiple islands and features an array of memorable characters and moments. Monkey Island is a series known for its quirky characters, strange situations, and bizarre puzzles, and the irreverent, inventive humor is still a standout 20 years later.

Monkey Island 2: Special Edition LeChuck's Revenge uses the same clever presentation method as The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition. By tapping a key, you can instantly switch between the original visuals in all their pixelated glory and the special edition visuals, which not only preserve the whimsical detail of the environments and characters, but also add a lot of nice new touches. To switch visuals is also to switch audio. The light calypso MIDI tunes of the original still retain their charm, though the revamped music and sound effects are much richer. The new version boasts full voice acting, which, though not without its weak points, does a lot to liven up the action. You can also turn the voiced dialogue on in the old version or add subtitles to the new version, depending on your preferences.

Announced at the same time, and due for release later in the summer, is LucasArts' internally developed The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition for Xbox Live Arcade and PC. Although still based on the original game, the special edition will include high definition graphics, a re-mastered musical score and full voiceovers. 041b061a72


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