Best Port/Updated Re-release: The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
Creating an updated version of one of the most beloved games of all time is a tricky proposition, especially almost two decades later. It must be sufficiently modernized to appeal to gamers who have never played it before, while staying faithful enough to the original to avoid alienating the fanbase. The developers behind The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition walked this line perfectly by including an ingenious feature: the ability for the player to switch between the original and updated versions of the game at any time. The original graphics, interface, and music are all still there for purists to enjoy, while gamers who are turned off by VGA-style graphics never even have to see them.
When an update is handled as well as this one, even the holdouts and skeptics owe it to themselves to check it out. The new interface has been streamlined to automatically provide the most likely choice, while the full menu of interactive options is only a button-press away. The already-legendary soundtrack was re-recorded with an orchestra and sounds better than ever. The voice actors from Curse of Monkey Island were all brought in to reprise their roles, and the dialogue sounds just like it was meant to be spoken all along. A built-in hint system means players never have to leave the game for help, and the HD graphics, perhaps the most controversial of the updates, are full of new, colorful details and animation. Added together, The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition stands as a shining example of how an older property can be re-imagined for today’s audience, and should be the measuring stick by which future updates are judged.
Runners-Up: Beneath a Steel Sky – Remastered, Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars – Director’s Cut
Readers’ Choice: The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
After so many years of nothing, we obviously agree that 2009 was an embarrassment of Monkey Island riches. But a little embarrassment never hurt anyone, so we all had our fill, not only with the new Tales episodes, but LucasArts’ own clever remake of its seminal classic. Everything old was new again, but still old, then new again, then old... (Admit it, you wore out the version-switch button that alternated between original glory and shiny new update!)
Runners-Up: Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars – Director’s Cut, Myst
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