Firstly, hi! This is my first post on GHR, I’m still learning how to write gaming reviews, so I hope you find it a little interesting
During last year on the PSN (and other systems/see below), the classic point-and-click adventure game The Secret of Monkey Island was born again as a HD remake. I wasn’t born when it was first out, so this release was great for me. I played them as if it was a new game. Of course going online to work out solutions that stumped me isn’t the best idea of fun for most people (although try and tell me you didn’t when going for 100% on Arkham Asylum once or twice). The creators of Monkey Island, Ron Gilbert (DeathSpank & HotHead designer), Tim Schafer (Double Fine creator) and Dave Grossman (Telltale designer) made Monkey Island and other games like Manic Mansion which was the first computer game I had ever played. They were employed by LucasArts when they used to make good games that weren’t star wars related. Monkey Island indirectly gave birth to many games that I consider at the front of the ‘comedy’ video game genre
In this article I want to share my experience with the first HD remake I had played and the first of the emerging platform of ‘episodic’ downloadable games of companies Telltale and Relentless
Haven’t done my research but The Secret of MI might actually have been the first HD remake of any game, and if not it would have to be one of the first. The original trio were in on the remake, creating a genuine experience of the original. Hardcore fans might have been put off by the inclusion of voice acting, but at any time the option to switch to ‘classic mode’ (the original untouched game) was available at any time. I chose to play in the new mode, which included the original detailed concept artwork put into the game to replace the original 1990 blocky representation of that artwork. It’s a beautiful looking game, and for a PC conversion played on my PS3 the controls weren’t just ported, the control scheme was custom fitted to console. I could tell a lot of love went into this game as everything was completely remade graphically while remaining faithful to the original dialogue and storyline. When Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge was inevitably remade and released I got it day one. The game was even better looking (near 3D appearance of the upgraded 2D artwork) than The Secret of MI and the story and dialogue was the same as the original sequel. I happily completed the game three times, first for the first play, second for the developer commentary (with the original trio) and third for 100% trophies.
Some criticize HD remakes for being a money grabbing scheme, I criticize most games of this generation for being too short or too pricey or both. With remakes (20 years old or 5 year old, doesn’t matter) they are cheap as chips and are the original length of that game, which is longer than a brand new game, plus they usually come as the whole series. I’m looking forward to getting more HD remakes soon (sly collection, ISO collection, Stranger’s Wrath) because not only are they cheap from day one, the originals are highly rated and include all the original games, not just one.
Now, I’ll take a turn tell you about the new episodic style games emerging recently due to the internet being able to deliver full games to your house instantly, no fuss. Telltale would be the most prominent developer of this genre, with Sam & Max, Monkey Island, the current Back to the Future and the future Jurassic Park under it’s belt of game/movie inspired episodic games. I have played Tales from Monkey Island by Telltale Games on the PS3. My main criticism of episodic games overall is they cost too much for what they’re worth. I purchased Blue Toad Murder Files for the PS3 at the same time (which is a dog’s breakfast of a game for any price) and was surprised they passed that little bit of average content for the same price as a disc-based game that’s been out for the same time. Tales of Monkey Island was worth the pricetag though. I wasn’t going all Monkey fanboy on it unless the price was right, and during the PSN christmas sale, it was.
I began playing it not too long ago but it was around 6 or 7 months after I had played the HD remakes of MI. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a game made by a different company and with only one of the original creators. ToMI is a 3D adventure game in the style of Monkey Island, retaining it’s dialogue choices and interaction with people and items. If you are looking for a flashy Unreal Engine game you won’t find it here, the graphics are cheerily cartoony and reminiscent of the Monkey Island HD remakes. In fact at some points when playing ToMI I forgot the first two I’d played were 2D. I made sure to play each episode over different days to give me a break as if I were playing it during the first release.
My impressions of the game were at first a little underwhelming. The first episode set the scene and had simpler puzzles compared to the original games. It was like watching part 1 of the new Harry Potter. Upon the second episode though, I was engrossed in the story and the game, it’s puzzles picked up the original ‘check the internet when you get stuck’ difficulty. The third episode flowed on all the way to the fifth and final episode, the game full of twists and turns that didn’t make you feel annoyed that maybe Telltale were trying to push out another episode by adding an unnecessary obstacle. ToMI isn’t a game made for kids but it is kid friendly, there are dark elements streaked through the story like death and a tad of dismemberment. Of course I don’t mean that MI had gone for a God of War hack and slash, it still retained the original game’s quality of no combat all puzzles. Like truly great puzzle game should be, it didn’t make you feel like you were playing a game that heaps of people had solved before and the game doesn’t play exactly the same each time (the dialogue changes by your choosing) it feels like you are blazing your own trail and that feeling is what got me hooked on Adventure games and Manic Mansion all those years ago.
This has been my journey through DL HD remakes and episodic games…how appropriate, you fight like a cow
Games in this article:
Tales of Monkey Island (PSN, XBL, PC) 14.45 (AUS Christmas Pricing) check your PSN, XBL or Telltale website for your country pricing, Australian pricing is usually around 5 dollars more than US
The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition (PSN, XBL, PC, iOS), Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (PSN, XBL, PC, iOS) 23.95 bundle (AUS) check your PSN, XBL, Steam or iTunes Store for your country pricing
Blue Toad Murder Mystery Files (PS3, PC) 19.95 (AUS Christmas Pricing) Check your PSN or bluetoadmurderfiles.co.uk for your country pricing – although I suggest you don’t buy this game without researching about it first
More of my reviews/ideas/thoughts/bizarre at twitter.com/warmanator