Who Should Review Monkey Island: Special Edition?

Written by Joe Martin

June 16, 2009 | 12:02

Tags: #adventure-games #behind-the-scenes #guybrush-threepwood #journalism #monkey-island #review #telltale

Companies: #games #lucasarts

Journalistic integrity is something we pride ourselves on here at bit-tech and we always try to make sure that our reviews are fair-minded, open and in-depth. Each of us at bit-tech and Custom PC magazine has a specialty and we always try to play to that expertise. Tim does graphics cards. Richard does motherboards and PSUs. I play games. Harry makes the coffee.

It’s this integrity that explains why you’ll never see me review a hardcore racing sim such as Forza or Race Pro; as a man who can’t even ride a bike, let alone ride a car, I have no right to talk about the flaws in a racing sim.

This integrity though does present one very big problem for us though and that is; who should review the upcoming swathe of Monkey Island games – both the newly announced episodes from Telltale Games and the Special Edition re-release from LucasArts proper?
Who Should Review Monkey Island: Special Edition? Who Should Review Monkey Island?
Look behind you! A three-headed monkey!

You see, Monkey Island is my specialty. Not just adventure games in general, but Monkey Island in particular. I know it back to front, inside out, guts to garters, from skink toes to monkey bladders. If I was on Mastermind then Monkey Island would be my specialist subject. I even have a similar non-beard similar to the one Guybrush has in Monkey Island 2.

I won’t talk about why I know so much about The Secret of Monkey Island or why I love it so much - I’ve done that before - and I don’t want to overindulge myself like the Mayor of Phatt Island. Suffice it to say that the Monkey Island is important to me. The team of developers behind the recent revival of the series claim that the first Monkey Island games were why they got into game development; my claim would be the same, except I’m not very good at maths.

There are people at bit-tech and Custom PC though who’ve never played any of the classic LucasArts adventure games, ever. Shocking, I know. Clive is one of them, having never even seen the opening cutscene to Sam and Max Hit the Road either. Mark has played the game, but doesn't carry as much of a torch for it as I do. Harry meanwhile has played a Monkey Island game before, but only Curse of Monkey Island – and he did it with a walkthrough in his free hand. Obviously he wasn’t massively impressed.

Who Should Review Monkey Island: Special Edition? Who Should Review Monkey Island?
Look behind you! A PRETTIER three-headed monkey!

The question is two-fold then; firstly, do you think I can be trusted to review a Monkey Island game fairly? Secondly, who would you like to review this game instead? Someone who has never played the series before, or someone who is familiar with the genre at least, or an expert? Is it more important to approach the game with a fresh set of eyes, or fore-armed with a boatload of knowledge and game trivia? How can someone reliably review the puzzles in the game if they've already solved the exact same puzzles before and are operating more out of memory and instinct than the puzzle was really intended for?

The second issue involved in the topic kind of stems from Harry’s previous exploration into the series – when is it OK to use a walkthrough in a game? Personally, I’ve never ever used a walkthrough apart from once (a Sam and Max episode where I got stuck for literally four hours). Normally, unless you’re cornered on a particular boss fight then cheats and walkthroughs are never really going to play a part in the review process…but for the adventure game genre things are a little different. You can get stuck and be totally unable to progress.

The new Monkey Island: Special Edition game has a hint system and is so perhaps a little unaffected by this, but it’s still something worth talking about. How long should a reviewer be stuck for before he uses a walkthrough and, if they only use a walkthrough for a single puzzle, should they still mention it in the review? Just things I’d like to know your thoughts on – so drop them in the comments below.

Or should we just tell Jamie to review it instead?
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