When LucasArts released The Secret of Monkey Island for the iPhone last year, I was thrilled.
Like many male North American gamers of a certain age, I had grown up on the Monkey Island franchise of point and click graphical adventure games. I enjoyed their wise-cracking anachronistic humour. I identified with the bumbling goofy hero, Guybrush Threepwood, I liked the silly plot and had fun solving the puzzles required to win the game. And, of course, how could I resist pirates?
But The Secret of Monkey Island on the iPhone was a bit of a letdown. Yes, the voice-over dialogue was great and the updated graphics were slick. But the small screen size and tiny speaker made the game too frustrating to really enjoy.
Fast forward to 2010 and LucasArt’s first iPad game, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge ($4.99). Despite my bad experience with the iPhone version of The Secret of Monkey Island, I willingly paid my $5 for the sequel, reasoning that if the major problem with The Secret of Monkey Island was the small screen size, there should be no issues with MI2.
And there weren’t. Monkey Island 2 was one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences I’ve had on the iPad, ranking right up there with Angry Birds, Warpgate HD and X-Plane-9. The iPad is the perfect platform for point-and-click adventures — the size of the screen is just right and pointing and clicking is a natural for a touch screen device.
For those of you unfamiliar with point and click adventure games, you maneuvre your avatar around the screen using your finger. You can pick up items (it’s a good idea to pick up as many as you can, because you’ll need them to solve the various puzzles). You engage in dialogue with other characters by selecting from a menu of possible responses. You play the game at your own pace — there’s no penalty if you get up to stretch, take a bathroom break or go for a coffee.
The plot of LeChuck’s Revenge involves finding the treasure of “Big Whoop” with the help of a Rasta-talking shipowner, a shushing librarian, a used coffin salesman, a bartender who cleans his mugs by spitting into them and other characters. There are spitting contests, voodoo spells, jailbreaks, crossdressing and glass-bottom boat cruises. What more could you ask for from an iPad game?
The new version of the game includes a couple of features designed to take advantage of the iPad’s unique affordances. Double-swiping across the screen causes the graphics to revert to their original EGA-style. Triple-swiping gives you a situation-specific hint.
If you’re a fan of 3D first person shooters you’ll probably get impatient with MI2’s leisurely pace and lack of violence, but if you enjoy a good story, wisecracking dialogue, gorgeous graphics (and pirates!), it’s well worth the $4.99 price. LucasArts has recently re-released Secret of Monkey Island for the iPad and free lite versions of both titles are also available. I am eagerly anticipating the rerelease of the later titles in the series (The Curse of Monkey Island, Escape from Monkey Island and Tales of Monkey Island) and catching up on Guybrush’s later piratical adventures.
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