The Secret of Monkey Island SE [iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad]

July 28, 2010 Off By Chris Hinton

There’s one style of game I remember with great fondness. Well, actually there are a few, but there’s one that really stands out: point and click adventures. Games like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Beneath a Steel Sky, The Adventures of Sam and Max, and particularly The Secret of Monkey Island. So imagine my joy when I found that The Secret of Monkey Island (can I shorten that to TSoMI? Do you mind? It’s quicker to type) had been given a makeover and released on the Apple app store.
You play aspiring pirate Guybrush Threepwood, who has arrived on Melee Island to seek fame and fortune. Unfortunately, all the local pirates are sitting in dock, scared to venture out because of the ghost pirate Le Chuck. This is a tale of love, adventure, swashbuckling sword fights, and a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle.

Controls

The original game was played with the mouse (hence the term “point and click”). You selected various items on the screen, moved around with clicks, and combined items and environment objects to solve puzzles. The iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad version treats the screen a bit like a laptop’s trackpad. Rather than just touching where the pointer should go, you move it around by swiping your finger across the screen. At first that seemed like a ludicrous way of doing things, but it actually makes sense. If you just had to tap some of the puzzles wouldn’t work and you’d be changing the playing experience by a large amount. This way the game still retains the point and click feel, and it starts to feel natural quite quickly.
I did run into a bit of difficulty with telling TSoMI whether I wanted Guybrush to open and close doors or walk through them. It can be done by manually selecting “open” or “walk” but the quicker way is to double click to open and close, and single click to walk through. It seems simple enough now that I write it down, but I kept forgetting it in the game and closing doors I wanted to go through.

Graphics and Sound

The graphics have been updated to make TSoMI look a bit more respectable to today’s game¬†connoisseur and the characters are now fully voice acted and backed by music recorded on real instruments. At the time the original came out, we were still in the days of picking a sound card based on whether you wanted good music or digital sound… not both. So TSoMI (original) just had music on the map screens and subtitles for the dialogue. The voice acting is actually pretty good, and fits the characters well. And the music? It’s unobtrusive (as it should be) but when you pay attention to it you realise it’s scrubbed up a treat as well.
A really nice touch is that you can swipe across the screen and switch to the original version… blocky graphics and hardly any sound. Retro geekiness ahoy!

But is it fun?

What!? You’re asking if Monkey Island is fun!? Well, it takes a certain sense of humour to enjoy it. It helps if you’re a bit unhinged ūüėČ If you enjoy puns, silliness, and good puzzles, then I think this is one for you. There are times when it’s¬†devilishly¬†difficult, times when it’s brilliantly funny, and there are more than a few “aha!” moments as you finally understand what that odd item in your inventory is for.
The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition is available from the Apple app store, and if you want to try before you buy, a lite version is also available. I wholeheartedly recommend that you download it today and enjoy a bit of old skool gaming.