Monkey Madness
Product: Secrets of Monkey Island, Tales of Monkey Island
Company: Lucas Arts
Date: 06/07/2009
Avaliable On:

LucasArts made a couple of announcements recently, and both were dealing with one of their most classic and cherished (non-Star Wars) I.P.'s. Not only are they pairing up with a lot of former employees at Telltale Games to produce a new adventure (spread across five episodes in only the way Telltale can), but they are also taking the first game from the series, Secrets of Monkey Island, giving it a fresh coat of paint and putting it on XBLA and PC. And I have to say, as a fan (boy?) of LucasArts, Telltale and adventure games (both classic and current), what I saw for both games has got me really excited.

First off, the new game. Secrets of Monkey Island follows our favorite pirate, Guybrush Threepwood, after he has made his money and fame through copious amounts of pirating. But when he finally gets the chance to get rid of The Chuck once and for all, a strange series of events causes The Chuck's powers to be released into the world, and into Guy's hand.

The demo started with Guy being washed up on shore of a new island, Washup Island, and Guy's current task is to get off the island and figure out how to stop a strange new Voodoo Pox that is spreading to all of the pirates and making them ... well, jerks.

From the little bit of the new episode's story that I got to see, it was evident that the humor and nature of the series is coming through loud and clear in this latest game. And while the five episodes won't be quite as independent as Telltale's previous episodic games, the episodes will be complete experiences. The main difference is that you won't find yourself starting each episode in a hub environment like Sam and Max's office or Strongbad's computer. Instead, Guy will actually travel between games and the overall story will be pushed a lot harder in each episode.

Interesting notes about this new game is that Guy is once again voiced by Dominic Armato, and many of the other voice actors iconic to the previous games have reprised their roles. Characters like Elaine and The Voodoo Lady will certainly return, but they will be mixed in with a whole new cast.

The other Monkey Island game shown at E3 was Secrets of Monkey Island: Special Edition. In this PC and Xbox Live Arcade release, the core game that came out in 1990 is left untouched. In fact, when I asked if any of the original game code was actually edited, the developers said that they left everything like it was. The only changes to the game itself was the addition of a light hint system, Spiffy the Dog (fans will get it), and the ability to switch between the new high-def hand-painted graphics and the classic pixelated visuals (yup that's right, on the fly).

I found this last tidbit to be the best. I loved the fact that a simple press of a button changed the screen from the new stylized look to the display that appeared on my computer monitor when I was 8 years-old, complete with Verb Box and cross-hair cursor. Of course, the original game had minimal voice acting, but when you are in HD mode, instead of displaying the text across the screen, you will be treated to full VO's to bring it into the modern age that much better.

These releases are just a hint that LucasArts is finally starting to take a look back in it's archives and realize that they had a ton of great products that they could bring to a whole new audience (or reintroduce to their old one in a new way). The other piece of this puzzle is the inclusion of 1992's Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis as an unlockable in their new Wii Indy game, Staff of Kings.

The first episode of the new adventure, Tales of Monkey Island will be available for download on both the Wii and PC in early July, while the Secrets Special Edition will hit XBLA and PC this Summer.

J.R. Nip aka Chris Meyer

GameVortex PSIllustrated