Game review: Secret of Monkey Island, 19 years old and funny as ever

The game chronicles the adventures of would-be pirate Guybrush Threepwood. Why this naïve young man wants to be a pirate is one of the mysteries of Monkey Island that's never revealed, but there are plenty of other puzzles that need unraveling. Puzzles are the skeleton around which the game is built. Many of them are fun and clever, some of them frustrating and obtuse. You'll struggle to complete the Three Trials, learn the ins and outs of Insult Sword Fighting, and experiment with the chemical properties of grog. All the puzzles, story and pacing of the new Special Edition are exactly the same as the 19-year-old original, except it has an overlay of pleasing new cartoony graphics and full voice acting for all the characters. But if nostalgia calls, you can shift to the original view at any point and play in low-pixel graphics. One very welcome addition is a hint button, which gets progressively more helpful each time you push it.

But we're not playing for just the puzzles. If they're the skeleton, the heart and soul of Monkey Island is its humor. This is a genuinely funny game. While I often laugh AT games, I seldom laugh along WITH them. While the jokes sometimes fall flat, none of them are painful and more than a few of them left me not just chuckling but pausing the game for a good belly laugh. My advice for maximum enjoyment is to hit the hint button the first time you start to feel annoyed and just enjoy the ride.

The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition is available for download on PC, X-Box Live, and even the iPhone. Pick your poison, but whichever version you choose, the laughs and puzzle-solving fun are more than worth the price of admission.

(Rick Dakan is a former game developer, the author of the Geek Mafia series of novels, and part of the Gamma Testing weekly video game podcast. You can read him here on CL, at, or at

I've lived most of my life playing video games — 37 years that span the vast majority of video game history. We had a dedicated ment in many gamers' lives. It's one of the classics. And until two weeks ago, I'd never played one second of it.

The less said about what happened with King's Quest and why I stopped playing point-and-click adventure games when I was in middle school the better. Suffice it to say, I missed the whole Lucas Arts adventure game phenomenon of the early ’90s. But everyone says that Secret of Monkey Island is one of the best that's ever been, and so, always eager for something new to play (even when it's old), I downloaded the game to see what all the fuss is about.

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