Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Video game review number one hundred and ninety three: The secret of Monkey Island

Video game review number one hundred and ninety three in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "The Secret of Monkey Island".

Almost exactly 20 years ago, I played a little game call Maniac Mansion for the NES. This was my first text-based adventure game. It was one of my favorite games on the NES, and I must have beaten it at least a dozen times (no less than twice with each character). Had I discovered Monkey Island around this time, I think I might have been in heaven, but alas....I did not.

Fast forward to today. Monkey Island 2 has been released on Xbox Live Arcade. I see lots of people are excited about this, and I figured I'd pop in the original to give that a try. Frankly, I simply don't see what all the fuss is about.

You can read my review of Monster Hunter Tri to get a better understanding how I feel about RPGs in general. I realize this isn't an RPG by defintion, but man...all it is is talking. You walk into a room, you choose one of 9 verbs (open, walk, talk, use, etc, etc) and click A. If you're talking to someone, they'll say something, then you'll have a choice to give one of four responses. You do this until the conversation is done, and then you move on to the next one. It's like Mass Effect, without any of the gameplay.

Like some other "retro" arcade game updates, you're able to switch the game from the new updated graphics to the originals. I actually found the original text and still image cut scenes to have a little more character than the new one. At least when you play it in "old school mode" you can remember the days when games like this were considered "amazing". When you go to the modern mode, you have a bunch of third rate voice actors reading you the dialog. Regardless of the mode you choose, the game is all just a text story with absolutely no action whatsoever. IMHO, this is great for books....not so much for video games.

Overall score? 2/10. Blasphemous? Maybe...but I spent less time with this one than almost any game I've reviewed yet. 22 minutes in total. It's a funny story, but honestly...when I play a game, I want to play a game. This game is more like a book on tape. It's basically a lot of talking during poorly rendered cut scenes. I didn't care that all of the games 200 gamerscore can be earned in under 3 hours if you skip the cut scenes...I just wanted to be done with it and never play it again. Why is not a one or a zero? Because I didn't hate was just...too boring. I recognize that teenage me would have gotten a huge kick out of this. If you had a connection to this game in your youth, you'll probably love it...but I did not. If they ever re-release Maniac Mansion, that's going to be a whole different story.

Achievements? This is pretty pathetic, but after 22 minutes, what can you expect? I got one...for pressing the back button and playing this game in the old school mode. There was an achievement for performing the "three trials"..but I didn't finish that. It was too much work. :-)

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