Friday, 17 July 2009

Boy, do I have some stories to tell you

Actually, i don't.  Otherwise I would have said something since umpteen years ago.
Today's excuse for silence: Monkey Island.

"But faithful internet blogger!" I hear you shriek."This is 2009.  The age of point and click is long dead."
"So's your face!" I cry, and I penetrate it with the closest sharp thing to hand. (Some sort of broadsword I'm hoping.)

Hopefully, you'd see this as less of a violation of my parole, and more of a way to try to explain that point and click adventure games are still going strong, just not getting the recognition they deserve. 

This summer has seen the revival of the Monkey Island series, 9 years after Escape From Monkey Island in 2000, and a remake of the original Secret of Monkey Island.  First off, we have Telltale's take on the Monkey Island series with Tales of Monkey Island.  Telltale like to release their adventure games in episodes, rather than one full game, with each episode being a fraction of the price of a retail game.  In my case, each episode was about £5, with the entire 5 episode series coming to about £22.   The episodic nature worked with Sam & Max, so I was eager to place my pre-order a month early, and spend the 6th July cooped up in my room, sleeping, ready to endlessly click the refresh button all of next day on Telltale's website. 
And that I did.
For 5 hours.  (Those real-life friends have a habit of dragging me outside when I'm busiest, otherwise it would have been double figures.)

During these 5 hours I took a trip to the forums.  Expecting to see a few fans like myself, hoping to relive some of the magic from our youth, I saw a massive amount of users ready to download and play the new Monkey Island game.  I'd never knew the genre still had this much life within it's fan-base.  Ironically, this 'life' caused the website to crash a lot and caused the forums to go down for maintenance. 

The wait was worth it.  Though LucasArts has little to do with the game they made famous, Ron Gilbert made a couple of trips to Telltale's studios to make sure they stuck to the old Monkey Island ways we fell in love with.  The first episode, in my eyes, was a hit and I loved every second of it.  The game took me 4 hours to complete, with the puzzles being challenging, but easy enough to spot the obvious solution with a little thought.  Hopefully the difficulty curve will increase as usual to make the next few games as awesome.
Dominic Armato continues his voice over to ToMI to voice Guybrush Threepwood, a fact which made me bring out my credit card ready to pre-order before I even realised what was going on.  He does, yet again, a brilliant job at capturing the charm and wit of Guybrush.

Next we have The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition.  A remake of the original game in 1990, with updated graphics and voice overs.  Once again, Dominic is there to take us through the Tri-Island area,hoping to be the next mighty pirate.  A clever feature of the game is the way you can press a button and it will digress to the original game, a-la pixels and crosshair.  This makes for an easy comparison between the games, and I find myself switching between each just to compare animations and scenery. 
The puzzles are the same as the original game, but now there's an added hint system.  On the PC version, press 'H', and you get a handy tip on screen.  This helps in some cases (as I found myself earlier) where I just couldn't figure out a solution to a puzzle, and didn't want to check a walkthrough for fear of spoiling a later puzzle. 

Away from the Monkey Island series, we also had Sam and Max season one hitting Xbox Live recently.  Though I've not played the Xbox version, I have played the PC version, and recommend the series to anyone who hasn't played either.  The humour of the game is on par with Sam and Max: Hit the Road.  That is to say, hilarious. 

All in all, I'm loving the recent revival of a genre that doesn't get nearly enough acclaim as it should.
You can stick with your Halos and your Calls of Duty.  I'm sticking with my three headed monkeys and funny haired pirates.

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