Monkey Island 3: The Curse of Monkey Island – Review

After the success of The Secret of Monkey Island (1990) and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (1991), is it any wonder that LucasArt would continue with the franchise? However, fans would have to wait another six years before the third instalment appeared…The Curse of Monkey Island!

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

The Curse of Monkey Island is a point and click adventure game develop and publish by LucasArt. It was released in 1997 for Microsfit Windows. For this review, I played the version downloaded from Steam.

Plot

Once again, we follow our hero Guybrush Threepwood. After being stranded at sea for many days on a bumper car, the tides drift him to Plunder Island and caught between LeChuck’s bombardment of Elaine’s fort. It seems LeChuck still wants to marry her and won’t take no for an answer. After foiling LeChuck’s assault, Threepwood finds a diamond ring amongst the pirate treasure. He then formally proposes to Elaine, who accepts. As soon as she puts the ring on, she transforms into a gold statue…the ring is cursed! She is stolen soon after. Threepwood must save Elaine and find a way to lift the curse. Easy right?

Gameplay

The game continues with the point and click style. Your cursor is an ‘X’. When you hover over items, characters, or scenery, that you can interact with, the name of it will appear on the screen. The interface is in the style of a gold pirate doubloon.  To access it, simply hold the eft mouse button over an item and the interface will appear. The hand icon instructs Threepwood to pick up, use, or hit someone; the eyes allow you to examine something; and the parrot head instructs Threepwood to talk to or bite/eat something. To access your inventory, you simply click the right mouse button.

When talking to characters, there are usually several options that appear which usually involves comical quips or questions that help you progress.

A new feature in the series are the sea battles. Using left click to steer and right click to fire, you must learn to manoeuvre you ship into range before firing a volley broadside into the enemy whilst evading their fire.

The new graphics look fab! (screenshot taken by the author)

How Does It Handle?

The user interface and the number of commands has been simplified to make the game more enjoyable (in my opinion). This game is easy to learn and easy to navigate. No complaints here. The ship battles easy, but fun and a good way to mix up the action. They may not be everyone’s bottle of rum though.

Apart from the usual: examine everything on screen tactic used by point and click fans everywhere, which offers quips from guybrush, there are two other aspects to the game that add to this gaming experience. The first is by adding a banjo duelling scene where you must compete with another banjo player by plucking the correct strings in order. The second is by sword battle where you win by hurling verbal assaults at your opponent or countering their insults with even bigger burns. These two aspects of the game are alot of fun!

Graphics

As one may expect after such a long hiatus, the graphics are vastly improved. Not everyone was happy with the more comical style that the characters took on, but I loved it. The scenes are quirky an colourful with plenty to investigate, and the characters are larger than life. Bravo!

Music and SFX

Once you’ve selected your difficulty setting, you begin to hear a few primates chattering away. Over the next few seconds there is clearly some excitement as the voices become louder and more animated. I loved this intro to the game…but then again, I love chimps too.

During the story introduction, you are met with a beautifully animated introduction to the game with some fab Caribbean-style music played over the top. The in-game music doesn’t grab your attention, but its subtlety really works and is fitting for the game.

This game is the first in the series to have voice acting. It stars Dominic Armato as Guybrush Threepwood, Alexandra Boyd as Elaine Marley, and Earl Boen as Ghost Pirate LeChuck.

Replay Value

You have the option of playing a simpler game with less puzzles for a harder game with more puzzles. This is a neat feature and adds replay value to the game. This game is certainly worth revisiting and I know amny of my firends who have played through this more than once.

“I am rubber, you are glue!” (screenshot taken by the author)

Did I Complete The Game?

Yes, but I probably used more hints from a walkthrough than I should have. Oh, the impatience of age!

What the Critics Said:

Computer Gaming World: Outstanding animation, plot, dialogue, and puzzles add up to the most satisfying adventure game of the year. Overall 5/5.[1]

Next Generation: “…despite its flaws, Curse, like its two predecessors, is still fun enough to remain a satisfying experience. The Monkey Island games are massively popular for a reason: people enjoy playing them. So it’s hard to find too much fault with LucasArt for epitomizing the axiom, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Overall 3/5.[2]

Gamespot: “There simply isn’t much to dislike about this game, except possibly the ending, which seemed a bit abrupt and anticlimactic after 20 hours of gameplay. Still, The Curse of Monkey Island should more than satisfy the cravings of the Monkey Island faithful and even appeal to gamers who don’t typically go in for graphic adventures. Overall 9/10”.[3]

PC Gamer US: “If this isn’t destined to be a classic, I’ll swallow a cutlass. Overall 95%”.[4]

PC Zone: “Essentially, then, The Curse Of Monkey Island offers more of the same. That’s no bad thing because there are still mad fools out there who’ve never laid their eyes on Monkey 2, but of course to us old ape hands, Monkey 3 is no longer startlingly ‘new’. It’s far more polished than its prequel, yet at the same time familiar and reassuringly tip-top territory. Overall 9.2/10.[5]

PC Games: The Secret of Monkey Island was an enormous success. By contrast, LeChuck’s Revenge seemed weak, and the laughs intermittent. The Curse of Monkey Island, though, features all the vitality of the original release. If you want inventive puzzles, fine graphics, and, above all, enough wit to power an entire season of prime-time television, don’t miss this game. Overall A.[6]

Awards:

Adventure Game of the Year 1997 – Computer Gaming World[7]

Adventure Game of the Year 1997 – Computer Games[8]

Best Adventure Game 1997 – Gamespot[9]

My Verdict:

What’s not to like? This game looks awesome, has fab music with great SFX and voice acting with larger than life characters. It is also incredibly fun to play and is a worthy sequel to the ever-popular Monkey Island series. I’m now itching to play the next instalment.

Rating:

What are your memories of The Curse of Monkey Island? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.

[1] Green, J., ‘Review: The Curse of Monkey Island’. Computer Gaming World. (March 1998). Issue 164:152-3.

[2] ‘Rating – The Curse of Monkey Island’. Next Generation. (March 1998). Issue 39:113.

[3] Ryan, M.E., (Nov 25 1997) ‘The Curse of Monkey Island’. Gamespot. (http://www.gamespot.com/pc/adventure/curseofmonkeyisland/review.html Accessed 18th April 2022).

[4] ‘Curse of Monkey Island, The,’ PC Gamer US. (February 1998). (https://web.archive.org/web/19991206173715/http://www.pcgamer.com/reviews/289.html Accessed on 18th April 2022).

[5] ‘PC Reviews – Monkey Island 3: The Curse of Monkey Island’. PC Zone. (https://web.archive.org/web/20080407171909/http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=3210 Accessed on 18th April 2022).

[6] Brenesal, B., (01/05/1998). ‘The Curse of Monkey Island’. PC Games. http://www.games.net/pcgames/articles/0%2C1034%2C1211%2C00.html?CHANNEL=pcgames&AD_SECTION=review Accessed on 18th April 2022).

[7] ‘CGW 1998 Premier Awards: Adventure Game of the Year’. Computer Gaming World. (March 1998). Issue 164:76.

[8] ‘The winners of 1997 Computer Games Award’. Computer Games Strategy Plus. (https://web.archive.org/web/20050206152953/http://www.cdmag.com/articles/009/194/1997_cgsp_awards.html Accessed on 18th April 2022).

[9] ‘Best & Worst Awards 1997 – Best Adventure Game’. Gamespot. (https://web.archive.org/web/20010210224852/http://www.gamespot.com/features/awards97/adven.html Accessed on 18th April 2022).

Star Trek: Judgement Rites – Review

Star Trek: 25th Anniversary (1992) was a commercial success and highly praised by critics on MS-DOS. Star Trek fans everywhere were treated to the reunion of the original cast with episodic-type missions that contained all the atmosphere and charm of the television series. A sequel would be released a year later. Would it achieve the same success as its predecessor?

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

Star Trek: Judgement Rites is a single-player point and click game developed by Interplay Productions and released for MS-DOS in 1993. A version would be developed by Mac OS and released on the Mac in 1995. I chose to review the PC version downloaded from Steam.

Plot

Judgement Rites picks up directly after the final mission of 25th Anniversary (1992). Once again you take command of the USS Enterprise bridge crew and are instantly thrown into a scenario that could spell disaster for the Federation. There are eight missions or “episodes” for you to complete with the emphasis on brains over brawn. The main story arc consists of the crew becoming aware that the missions they are embarking on seem to have been created by a superior race of aliens who are testing the Federation’s suitability for contact.

Captain’s Log…(screenshot taken by the author)

What’s New?

During each mission, Kirk, Spock and Mccoy beam to a planet or another spaceship. They are joined by a fourth member of the crew whose speciality is needed for that particular mission. In 25th Anniversary (1992), the focus was very much of Kirk, Spock and McCoy but this game also allots time to other characters such as Uhura and Scotty, allowing them to come to the fore and shine.

Gameplay

The gameplay is identical to 25th Anniversary (1992). You use the cursor to direct your characters to interact with objects and characters. When speaking to other characters, there are times when you have the option to choose a diplomatic or terse response. This will directly affect your end of mission score. If your end of mission score is too low, you will be ordered back to Starfleet Academy to retrain, ending the game so save multiple games and save often.

The missions and story are more complex than 25th Anniversary (1992). The game really tests your problem solving skills (screenshot taken by the author)

How Does It Handle?

The interface is very user friendly and I can’t imagine anyone not being able to learn easily how to work the game.

There are a few differences between Judgement Rites and 25th Anniversary (1992). Firstly, 25th Anniversary (1992) focussed on individual missions much like the TV show. Judgement Rites sees most of the missions follow a story arc throughout the game. Also, unlike 25th Anniversary, you do not have to fight in a starship battle which I was a little bit disappointed in. After all, we all love a good starship battle don’t we?

Graphics

Once again, the vibrancy of the colours and the detail of the sprites and background are very pleasing to the eye. Apparently, Judgement Rites had sharper graphics and SFX than 25th Anniversary, but after comparison I can’t say I noticed it really. Maybe the backgrounds were more detailed but the improvements maybe so subtle as to go undetected by my aging eyes.

I found this game harder and the missions more complex than 25th Anniversary, especially the mission called “Through This Be Madness…”. I felt that the puzzles were harder and there was greater depth to the material of each mission.

SFX & Music

The original cast all return to voice their characters which, naturally, makes you feel as if you are playing an episode from the Original series. The game just wouldn’t be the same without the dulcet yet unemotional tones of Spock, or the comedic bickering of Spock and McCoy that we know so well from the television series.

The music has improved a little I feel. As well as the regular Star Trek themes, there are some original pieces which are very distinctive and add well to the atmosphere of the game.

A character from the Original series makes an appearance and no it’s not Harry Mudd (screenshot taken by the author)

Personal Memories

I first played this game almost 20 years ago. If memory serves, the voices of the original cast were not available then. I can’t remember if the issue was my computer or not but according to my research, the voices of the cast were only available on the CD-ROM versions. I wish more of these games were created as they are so much fun, and not just for Star Trek fans. I’m sure point and click fans would also enjoy the challenge of the game.

Together, 25th Anniversary and Judgement Rites feel like the final season of the Original series that the crew and fans deserved. With the passing of DeForrest Kelly, James Doohan and Leonard Nimoy, games revolving around the Original series are incredibly unlikely.

Did I Complete The Game?

Yes, but I did need to use a walk through several times. Much more than I did with 25th Anniversary (1992).

What The Critics Said:

Electronic Entertainment: “Judgement Rites captures the feel of the original show, down to the nuances of the dialog. Other than Kirk, though, the characters in the game aren’t used to their fullest potential, so there’s room for improvement. Overall 9/10.[1]

Awards:

Game of the Month – Electronic Entertainment (March 1994)[2]

My Verdict:

“Complex and challenging puzzles, fantastic dialog true to the TV show, bright colourful graphics and excellent SFX. There is more depth to the peripheral characters although, it is still the Kirk, Spock and McCoy show. Pity about the lack space battles though.”

Rating:


[1] Olafson, P., ‘Game of the Month – Star Trek: Judgement Rites’. Electronic Entertainment. (March 1994). :80-1.

[2] Ibid,. :80-1.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis – Review

“It belongs in a museum!”

I was introduced to the Indiana Jones movies by my older brother. I soon became a huge fan as a consequence. Controversially, I don’t think the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a bad a movie as most think. For the record, these films had nothing to do with me going into archaeology as a profession. Time Team holds that honour.

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is a point and click adventure game developed and published by Lucas Arts. It was released in 1992 for the Amiga, FM Towns, MS-DOS and Macintosh. In 2009, a version was also released on the Wii. The version I chose to review was purchased from Steam.

“We do not follow maps to buried treasure, and X never, ever marks the spot.” (screenshot taken by the author)

Plot

It’s 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II. After a Nazi agent tricks Indy into opening an artefact before running off with its contents, Indy finds himself in a race to find Atlantis before the Nazis do. Whilst dodging Nazi henchmen, Indy must solve a plethora of puzzles and learn the secrets of Atlantis. Indy is accompanied on his adventure with colleague Sophia Hapgood, a former archaeologist turned psychic.

“What is Shankara?”, “Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.” (screenshot taken by the author)

Gameplay

The game plays in a similar way to the early Monkey Island series. You have several commands at the bottom left part of the screen (“talk to”, “pick up” etc.) and need to use your cursor to highlight a command before clicking on the object or person you wish to interact with. Your inventory is located in the bottom right of the screen. When talking to a person, dialogue will appear at the bottom for you to select. Asking the right questions will help you progress in the game.

How Does It Handle?

The game is easy to play but this old style of point and click can get frustrating when you are stuck and relying on specific commands to solve a puzzle. I have no real complaints about the controls though.

“Half the German army’s on our tail, and you want me to go to Berlin?” (screenshot taken by the author)

Graphics

One thing I will say about Lucas Arts is that they know how to make a game look great. The graphics and animation are fantastic! The characters and backgrounds are very detailed and beautifully illustrated and animated.

Music & SFX

Originally, there was no voice acting. This was added to the enhanced version released in 1993. Alas, Harrison Ford didn’t reprise his role as Indy, which, for me, shatters the illusion of the game. The theme music is an 8-bit version of the film’s main theme which, let’s face it, would have been ridiculous if Lucas Arts couldn’t get the rights to a movie theme produced by Lucas Film.

Replay Value

There are three “storylines” giving the game good replay value, but I struggled to maintain my interest for one storyline let alone try the other two. There are also two alternative bad endings. I have been reliably informed by chums who have played the game that it is best to allow Sophia to join you on your quest, so i will no doubt return to this game in the future.P

Personal Experience

Although this game was critically acclaimed, I just didn’t enjoy it but I can’t quite put my finger on why. Some of the puzzles were frustrating and convoluted, and I question whether an Indiana Jones game works in this format. Surely, an action-adventure game would work better!? After all, the beauty of Indiana Jones films is not necessarily the intellectual intricacies of archaeology, but more the action of swinging with your whip, fighting a foe who is twice as large as you, and beating him, and running from falling boulders or indigenous tribes.

Did I Complete The Game?

No, I’ve yet to complete this one.

What The Critics Said:

Dragon: “We can’t speak highly enough of this offering, and we ask Lucas Arts to consider future Indiana Jones game releases to please gamers of all ages. Overall 5/5.[1]

PC Review: “Fate of Atlantis is simply brilliant. I can honestly say I haven’t really enjoyed playing an adventure game as much since Indiana Jones and the Crusade. Overall 9/10”.[2]

Electronic Games: “The graphics here are spectacular, studded with the sort of period effects expected from the Indy films. Overall 97%.[3]

Mega Zone: “Overall, this is one of the best adventure games I’ve seen in a long time (and I’ve seen a few). The combination of excellent graphics, great game play and the multiple plots (sheer genius) makes for great value for money. Overall 94%.[4]

Awards:

Best Adventure – Mega Zone Game of the Year Awards ‘92[5]

My Verdict:

“This game is beautiful! The detail and animation of the sprites and backgrounds are first rate. The game play is simple but can get tiresome when trying to find the exact command needed to progress. I have to confess that I just didn’t enjoy this game all that much. I found myself becoming easily bored with it. For me, Indiana Jones is an action-adventure, not a slow-paced point and click.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] ‘Reviews – Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis’. Dragon. (May 1993). 193:60-1.

[2] Presley, P., ‘PC Review – Indiana Jones and The Fate of Atlantis’. PC Review. (September 1992). 11:40-4.

[3] Video Game Gallery: SNES – Indiana jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Electronic Games. (October 1992). Volume 1 Issue 1:823.

[4] ‘Review: – Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis’. Megazone. (October/November 1992). Issue :46-7.

[5] ‘Game of the Year Awards 1992 – Indiana jones and the Fate of Atlantis’. Megazone. Issue 25:20.

Star Trek: 25th Anniversary – Review

“Space…the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilisations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

Star Trek: 25th Anniversary is a single-player adventure video game in the point and click format. It was developed and published by Interplay for DOS in 1992, Amiga in 1994, MacOS in 1995 and OSX and Linux in 2015. For this review, I played the Enhanced CD version.

Plot

Based on Star Trek: The Original Series, the game sees you take control of the crew of the starship USS Enterprise. There are seven missions to complete, with each mission styled like an episode of the series. During these missions you encounter strange new species, as well as run-ins with more familiar alien races such as the Klingons and Romulans. There is even an encounter with notorious con-artist Harry Mudd. However, the game isn’t just point and click based. There are also opportunities for space battles too when dealing with the Elasi pirates.

On the bridge of the USS Enterprise (screenshot taken by the author)

Gameplay

The gameplay is mostly point and click based. You can select whether to walk, look, speak to, or interact with; scenery, people, and items. Your inventory is available at the top left of the screen where you can choose to wield weapons or items when interacting with your surroundings. You also have the ability to select characters to interact with your environment which adds to the realism of the game…you wouldn’t ask Bones to decipher a computer lock would you…”Damn it Jim I’m a doctor, not a locksmith!!”.

When talking to the many characters you encounter, you sometimes have several options of how to interact. Only one is the correct way to reply or ask a question. The others are considered too hostile for Federation standards and affect how the other character reacts and, ultimately, your end of mission score.

Occasionally, you may be called upon to use your phasers against an enemy. You will have the option not to fire, fire on stun setting, or set your phasers to kill. Again, your decision affects not only the safety of your crew, but also your end of mission score.

It’s the Klingons!!! (screenshot taken by the author)

How Does It Handle?

This game is a bit more complex than most point and clicks of its time. The main point and click parts of the game are straight forward. However, the starship battles take practice as you need to learn to fix your ships damage whilst flying your starship.

The puzzles have varying degress of difficulty. Most are simple enough, but some of the missions allow for more than one outcome which greatly affects your end of mission score. One mission however, is very tough, especially if you find maths difficult. I don’t know anyone who worked it out without using a walkrthough.

A particularly nice touch is that before you beam to your destination, you are able to access the ship’s computer and type in keywords from your mission brief. A computer voice will then read out the relevant information and then, like Wikipedia, you find yourself scribbling down keywords and going down a rabbit hole gaining more and more information about the mission ahead.

Be advised, if you buy this game online, you will need to Google for the star map which came with the original instruction manual wise you won’t know which solar systems to navigate to and will end up in counties space battles with Klingons, Romulans or Elasi Pirates.

Graphics

Graphics wise, the game looks brilliant. The sprites are bright, colourful and clearly defined. The backgrounds are incredibly detailed and well-illustrated. The only downside to the graphics are the pixalated look of the starships and planets during the intro and beginning of each mission. During battles, the starships are designed to give the illusion of the ships being 3D but they clearly are not, and at times look less than smooth.

SFX

What makes this game particularly great, is that it contains the actual voices of the original crew, with authentic music from the show (albeit an 8-bit version). The background sound FX, especially when you are on the bridge of the Enterprise, are very reminiscent of the TV show and really immerses you in the game. Additionaly, what brings this game to life is the interactions between the characters which makes you feel as if you are watching an episode of Star Trek.

“Fascinating” (screenshot taken by the author)

Spoiler Alert!!!

Beware on the last mission. There seems to be a bug which leads you to a dead end. I spent a lot of time revisiting rooms before looking online to see where I’d gone wrong. This was where I read some walkthroughs and realised, I’d gone wrong. I only used the walkthrough to help progress on Mission six where some advanced mathematical skills are needed to find a code.

Did I Compete The Game?

Yes, many years ago, but I did need help for mission six when you need to work out a code for a door lock.

What The Critics Said:

Computer & Video Games: Frank O’Connor “The graphics are in super mega VGA-o-Vision and look dreamy. The sprites are excellent, right down to the high-heeled boots for the male characters. The music is a spot-on rendition of the TV themes, with a smattering of groovy sound effects for good measure. Overall 93%.[1]

ACE: “The only real problem is the overall longevity, as defined by the number of missions – with only eight of them, seasoned adventurers may find the challenge distressingly short-lived. Those new to the genre, however, would be hard pushed to find a friendlier, more enjoyable and absorbing experience. Overall 960/1000.[2]

My Verdict:

“Authentic, fun, challenging…one of the best Star Trek games ever made. Point and click fans should also enjoy the game, even if they’re not Star Trek fans.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Star Trek: 25th Anniversary? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] O’Connor, F., ‘Review: PC – Star Trek: 25th Anniversary’. Computer & Video Games Magazine. (April 1992). Issue 125:60-1.

[2] ‘Screentest – Star Trek: 25th Anniversary’. ACE. (April 1992). Issue 55:60-5.

Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror – Remastered – Review

With the success of Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars, it was inevitable that a sequel would follow…but how do you follow up such a compelling story of conspiracy and murder?

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

Broken Sword 2: The Smoking Mirror is a point-and-click adventure game developed by Revolution Software and published by Virgin Interactive. It was released in 1997 on Microsoft Windows and the PlayStation. A remastered edition was released in 2010 on Microsoft Windows, OSX and iOS. For this review, I looked at the original version on the Playstation and PC, and the remastered version on the PC.

Plot

It has been six months since George Stobbart and Nico Collard stopped the Templar plot. Stobbart has returned to France from the US, where he was visiting his ill father, and plans to resume his relationship with Nico. Together they visit the house of archaeologist Professor Oubier in order to learn about a Mayan artefact that Collard has been researching. After arriving at Oubier’s house, they are ambushed, and Nico is kidnapped. Stobbart must rescue her whilst learning about, and preventing, a conspiracy to release the Mayan God Tezcatlipoca during an imminent eclipse.

Gameplay

The gameplay is unchanged from its predecessor, that is, you can control George and Nico (at separate times during the game) and direct them to walk or interact with objects by using a cursor. The cursor icon will change depending on what action you can do. For example, if you place the cursor over an item you are able to pick up, the icon will turn into an animated hand that motions as if to pick up an object. It’s all very clear and straight forward. You are also able access your items from your inventory by moving your cursor to the top of the screen, where your collected items will appear. Similarly, when talking to another character, icons will appear at the bottom of the screen, indicating that more information can be gleaned from that person.

A large brick building

Description automatically generated
A comparison between the original (top) and the remastered (bottom) versions (screenshot taken by the author)

How Does It Handle?

The game easy to learn and play. I think if I had one criticism though, it’d be that I think the action is a little slow when you get George or Nico to interact with an object.

Graphics

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”, or so the old saying goes. The graphics have remained in the classic animated film style, which I am a fan of.

Music

The music, whilst subtle, is atmospheric and fitting, and usually indicates either danger or that an important puzzle has been solved.

The Remastered Version

After replaying the game years after its release, Charles Cecil, who originally designed the game, wished to fix several issues he noted about the original version. He felt that the backgrounds were too pixelated, the movies were of poor quality, the audio needed sharpening up and that some of the dialogue seemed a bit out of place. With these issues addressed, Cecil explains that they decided to add a diary and a hint system. He also enlisted the help of illustrator Dave Gibbons to create new artwork for an interactive-comic bonus.[1]

There is a small difference with the original in how you gain access to your items. In the corners of the screen are slightly translucent icons. The bottom left is a satchel where your can find your collected items; the bottom right is the diary, reminding you of your journey; top left is the option menu, and top right is a question mark for when you need help. When talking to another character, a box will appear onscreen with icons that you can click on to gather information from that person.

A person standing in front of a building

Description automatically generated
A comparison between the original (top) and the remastered (bottom) versions (screenshot taken by the author)

Remastered Graphics

In the remastered version, the graphics do look a lot smoother, and the colours have been toned down a bit to add more realism to the scenes. The little portrait character boxes that appear during conversations is a nice new touch too.

Personal Memories

I enjoyed playing this game, but I think I still prefer the first instalment. It was great to see some familiar faces from the first game, and there were some interesting new characters added too. For me, there are two things that let this game down. Firstly, I felt that they didn’t provide enough information on the Maya and Tezcatlipoca. Other players may not feel they needed more information but I’m an archaeologist and a historian by trade, and so my curiosity naturally seeks more information on such subjects. My second gripe was slightly rectified in the remastered version in that I wish they had added something new to the game too.

Did I Complete The Game?:

Yes, but I found this game tougher than the first and so probably used hints more often.

What The Critics Said Of The Original Version:

Gamespot: (Playstation) “The horrendous loading times that plagued the original have been trimmed a great deal, and the animation runs a lot smoother. Still, the game is not for everyone. Earfuls of semi-relevant conversation and the digital pad’s inability to properly replicate a mouse make Broken Sword II tedious at times. But while Broken Sword II certainly isn’t revolutionary, it’s still refreshing to see a game of this nature done well. A compelling story, plot twists, offbeat humour, great graphics, and solid sound makes Broken Sword II a game with great aspirations. It’s simply too bad the game’s format and the Playstation’s limited capabilities keep Broken Sword II from fully realizing them. Overall 6.9/10.[2]

Gamespsot: (PC) “George is slightly more sophisticated (a consequence of all that traveling he did in Circle of Blood no doubt), Nico has been fleshed out a bit and takes on a few adventures of her own, and the quirky humour of Circle of Blood raises its oddball head once more (i.e., the minor character who gets up from his desk only to reveal that he works in bikini underwear – not pants – because it makes him feel friskier). It’s Circle of Blood with new characters, a new storyline, a new threat to world harmony, and a few omissions and additions that help to streamline the adventure. Overall 7.9/10.[3]

Next Generation: (PC) “What’s new helps the game immensely, and the already intuitive interface is still there. Smoking Mirror may not be an outstanding leap in graphics adventures, but much like the sequel to a good book, it’s a fun romp with familiar characters and well-worth the price of purchase. Overall 3/5.[4]

Computer Gaming World: (PC) “All in all, Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror is above average, but it’s not great. While the engine and the graphics have been refined, there are some minor slips in plot, dialogue, puzzles that bring the whole experience down a bit. Overall 3.5/5.[5]

What The Critics Said Of The Remastered Version:

Gamezone: (PC) “Among the most impressive things about the Broken Sword series are its animated cut scenes, which look fantastic on the iPad. The animation itself is a bit dated, but it also brings a sense of nostalgia, reminiscent of cartoons and animated movies of the same time period. The voice acting is solid, and the game sounds great on the iPad. The remastered version of The Smoking Mirror is compatible with both the iPad and iPhone, and though the game can look a bit stretched and blurry at times on the iPad, the bigger screen is preferable for gameplay purposes. Overall 8/10.[6]

My Verdict:

“A great sequel and enthralling storyline. Great graphics, and tougher puzzles than the first instalment. Pity about the lack of innovation in gameplay, and information regarding the Mayan culture”

Rating:

What are your memories of Broken Sword II? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] Hoggins, T., (January 4th 2011). ‘Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror Interview’. The Telegraph. (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/video-games/8238685/Broken-Sword-II-The-Smoking-Mirror-interview.html Accessed 7th March 2020).

[2] Stohl, B., (May 5th 2000). ‘Broken Sword II Review – Playstation’. http://www.gamespot.com. (https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/broken-sword-ii-review/1900-2545928/ Accessed on 7th March 2020).

[3] Muldoon, M., (May 1st 2000). ‘Broken Sword II Review – PC’. http://www.gamespot.com. (https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/broken-sword-the-smoking-mirror-review/1900-2538230/ Accessed on 7th March 2020).

[4] ‘Rating: PC – Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror’. Next Generation. (December 1997). Issue 36:170.

[5] Nguyen, T., ‘Review: PC – Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror’. Computer Gaming World. (March 1998). Issue 164:162.

[6] Chase, S., (May 4th 2012). ‘Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror – Remastered Review’ Gamezone.com. (https://www.gamezone.com/reviews/broken_sword_ii_the_smoking_mirror_-_remastered/ Accessed 7th March 2020).

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge – Special Edition – Review

Avast me hearties! Guybrush Threepwood be back with a new adventure for ye. So, grab your mouse and be ready for more whacky adventures says I.

Original title screen (screenshot taken by the author)
Special Edition title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge is a single-player point-and-click adventure game, and the second game in the Monkey Island series. It was developed and released by Lucasart in 1991 for the Amiga, FM Towns, Mac OS, and MS-DOS. The special edition was released in 2010 for iOS, Microsoft Windows, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. I chose to review the version downloaded from Steam.

Now I realise that I only recently reviewed The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, but I felt that I had to play this second instalment straight way.

Plot

Seven months after defeating the pirate LeChuck, wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood finds himself back in the Caribbean in an attempt to locate the treasure of Big Whoop. From finding ingredients to make a voodoo doll, to attending fancy dress parties, rigged gambling, and drinking and spitting contests, Threepwood attempts to locate the map that’ll lead him to Big whoop.

Gameplay

The gameplay and are identical to The Secret of Monkey Island. You use your mouse to select a command (Pick Up, Use, Open etc.) and then click with the person or object you use to interact with. Speaking to and asking questions of individuals often leads to hints as to what do do next.

Graphics

The graphics are also identical to The Secret of Monkey Island: 8-bit but incredibly detailed and colourful. Once again you have the option of switching between the original and updated graphics at the click of a button.

Was The Game Any Good?

Lucasart have done it again. They have produced yet another fun game with plenty of humour, challenging puzzles and plenty of head scratching moments. The animation is smooth, the characters and the backgrounds are colourful and detailed.

However, for some reason that I can’t put my finger on, I didn’t enjoy this game quite as much as The Secret of Monkey Island, and that may be because there was nothing new to learn. Then again, that may just be me being very picky.

Did I Complete The Game?

Yes, I did complete the game with the assistance of a walkthrough on several occasions.

What The Critics Said About The Original:

Amiga Computing: “…horribly close to being a perfect game. It’s certainly the best adventure game I’ve seen in ages… Overall 95%[1]

Computer and Video Games Magazine: “Already Monkey Island has staked a claim to the best game of this year…. Overall 96%.”[2]

What The Critics Said About The Special Edition:

“…good, but the lack of keyboard support took something away for me. That said, the game picked up on the problems I had with the first and changed it for the better. I did feel that this game took away some experiences, so that brought its score down a little. There are things you should be told but you should also learn on your own, and they gave away too much to the player this time around. Overall B+.”[3]

Awards:

Winner – 1992 Computer Gaming World ‘Best Adventure Game of the Year’[4]

My Verdict:

“A worthy sequel. Funny, challenging and beautiful to look at…just keep your walkthrough guide close by.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] Whitehead, D., . ‘Review: Amiga – Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge’. Amiga Computing. (August 1992). Issue 51:10-1.

[2] Boone, T., ‘Review: PC – Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge’ Computer and Video Games Magazine. (February 1992). Issue 123: 15-7.

[3] Meitzner, B., (Sept 19, 2011). ‘Review: Monkey Island 1 and 2 Special Edition’. Gaming Bus. (https://web.archive.org/web/20110927164615/http://www.gamingbus.com/2011/09/19/review-monkey-island-1-and-2-special-edition/ Accessed 14th December 2019).

[4] ‘CGW Salutes the Games of the Year – Best Adventure Game of the Year’. Computer Gaming World: Collector’s Edition. (November 1992). Issue 100: 110. (https://archive.org/details/Computer_Gaming_World_Issue_100/page/n109/mode/2up Accessed on 6th February 2020).

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition – Review

Get ready for a swashbuckling adventure and set your wits against the cream…well the dregs, of the Caribbean. Only by solving mind-boggling puzzles and matching your witty repartee with your enemies will you win the day.

Original title screen (screenshot taken by the author)
Special Edition title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

The first in a popular franchise, The Secret of Monkey Island was developed and published by Lucasfilm Games in 1990. The Special Edition was released in 2009. It can be found on many platforms including the Amiga, MS-DOS, Atari ST, Macintosh, CDTV, FM Towns, Sega CD, OS X, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. I chose to review the Version downloaded from Steam.

Plot

This single-player point-and-click adventure game starts with Guybrush Threepwood declaring “I want to be a pirate!”. What ensues is an adventure full of humour, perilous pirate trials, the rescue of a damsel in distress and the defeat of the ghost pirate LeChuck, all set in the Caribbean. Along the way Threepwood must complete tasks to progress in his adventure, many of the tasks are peculiar and to solve them involves thinking not just outside the box, but outside of any other shape you can think of as well.

What’s New?

The Special Edition sees the game get a makeover with slick new graphics, improved music and sound, and vocalisation which adds to the humour of the gags. However, for the purists you are able to revert back to the original music and graphics at the click of a button. On many of the screens you can opt to hear commentary from the games creators explaining how they created the graphics and music, which I think should be incorporated into more games.

How Does It Handle?

In order to interact with the world around you, you must choose from 12 commands at the bottom of the screen. These commands include ‘pick up’, ‘talk to’, ‘open’, ‘close’ etc. This can become quite tiresome, especially when you are stuck and need to enact the “try everything with everything” method of problem solving.

Graphics

Although cartoonish, and originally in 8-bit graphics, the backgrounds and characters are very colourful. Oddly enough, when close-ups of characters occur, they look very life-like, which is the opposite of the Special Edition. The music also sounds great and captures the pirate mood exceptionally well. For me, the Special Edition graphics adds more life to the environment.

Original graphics (screenshot taken by the author)
Special Edition graphics (screenshot taken by the author)

Music

The main theme is incredibly distinctive and will get stuck your head very quickly. The cartoonish pirate style in-game music works well.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

The only thing that let’s this game down, and it is only one thing, is that some of the puzzles are so convoluted that you will need to use a walkthrough to find the solutions to many of the them. I like a mental challenge as much as the next person, but most would never think of using a rubber chicken as a zip-line.

Did I Complete The Game?

I did finish the game, but there were many times that I needed assistance from walkthroughs.

What The Critics Said Of The Original Version:

Computer and Video Game Magazine – “Usually the entertainment you get from an adventure is derived solely from solving puzzles, but the hilarious characters and situations, and the movie-like presentations make playing this more like taking part in a comedy film so it’s much more enjoyable.  Overall 94%[1]

Dragon Magazine: “If you enjoy a great graphic adventure spiced with humour top-notch graphics, and a soundtrack filled with really good, original compositions, this is a must buy for you. We haven’t stopped laughing yet! 5/5.[2]

Zero Magazine: “At last an adventure game that’s enjoyable rather than frustrating. Overall 84%[3].

What The Critics Said Of The Special Edition:

Eurogamer.net: “Few games can stand the test of time with such confidence, and whether your interest stems from its genre-defining significance or its reputation as an unforgettable game, you won’t be disappointed by time spent on Monkey Island. Anyone who disagrees probably fights like a cow. Overall 9/10.”[4]

IGN.com: “The Secret of Monkey Island has a special place in the museum of videogames for its quick wit, its personality, and the way it surprises us at every turn. Playing this adventure will take you back to a simpler, more innocent time before games needed to bash us over the head with ultra-violence to get our attention. They definitely don’t make ’em like this anymore. The Special Edition doesn’t offer any new gameplay, so its appeal may be limited if you’ve already been initiated. But if you’ve never seen a three-headed monkey, download this now. Overall 8.7/10.[5]

Gamespot.com: “If you’ve got opposable thumbs, a sense of humour, and a brain that you’re not afraid to use, this puzzle-filled adventure is one well worth taking. Overall 8/10.”[6]

My Verdict:

“Avast me hearties, here be a fun, classic point and click pirate game for ye. The puzzles be tough, but there be plenty of laughs for a landlubber such as yourself. Now pass me the grog!”

Rating:

What are your memories of The Secret of Monkey Island? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] Glancey, P., ‘Review: PC – The Secret of Monkey Island’. Computer and Video Games Magazine. (December 1990). Issue 109:112-4.

[2] ‘Review: PC/MS-DOS – Secret of Monkey Island’. Dragon Magazine. (April 1991). Issue 168:49-50.

[3] ‘Review: PC – The Secret of Monkey Island’. Zero Magazine. (November 1990). Issue 13:58.

[4] Whitehead, D., (16th July 2009). ‘Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition’. Eurogamer.net.  (https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/the-secret-of-monkey-island-special-edition-review?page=2 Accessed 13th December 2019).

[5] Hatfield, D., (Jun 14th, 2009). ‘The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition Review’. IGN.com. (https://web.archive.org/web/20111208163158/http://xboxlive.ign.com/articles/100/1003651p1.html Accessed 14th December 2019).

[6] Calvert, J., (April 23, 2010). ‘The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition Review’. Gamespot.com. (https://web.archive.org/web/20120804010019/http://www.gamespot.com/the-secret-of-monkey-island-special-edition/reviews/the-secret-of-monkey-island-special-edition-review-6260007/ Accessed on 13th December 2019).

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars – The Director’s Cut – Review

Original cover art

Ah the city of Paris, home of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre. A city that countless visitors seek for romantic getaways, art and culture. American lawyer George Stobbart was visiting Paris. He was enjoying a coffee and minding his own business…then a bomb exploded in the café he was sitting at.

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars (also known as Circle of Blood) is a point and click game developed and published by Revolution Software in 1996. It was released on multiple platforms including Android, Game Boy Advance, iOS, Linux, Mac OS, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Switch, Palm OS, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii, Windows, Windows Mobile, Xbox, Xbox One. Here, I will review the Director’s Cut which was released in 2009.

Director’s Cut cover art

Plot

This is the first instalment of the Broken Sword series. You play as American George Stobbart who witnesses the assassination of a man named Plantard. Whilst enjoying a coffee at a Parisian Café, Stobbart observes the assassin enter and then leave with a briefcase moments before an explosion destroys the establishment. Naturally Stobbart begins to investigate the murder because, let’s face it, the explosion almost killed him too and to rub salt into the wound, he appears to be a suspect. During his investigation he meets and allies himself with French reporter Nicole “Nico” Collard. What starts as a murder investigation soon unravels as a conspiracy plot involving the Knights Templar, which takes Stobbart and Collard to several different countries including Ireland, Spain, Syria, and Scotland in search of the murderer.

The animation style is in the beautiful classic animation tradition (screenshot taken by the author)

Gameplay

Like with all point and click games, you control a cursor on the screen. By hovering it over certain objects or characters, you have the option to look at or interact with them. By moving the cursor to the lower part of the screen, you will gain access to your inventory and any objects you have picked up. When talking to characters, a number of pictures will appear and when these pictures are clicked, George of Nico will engage in a line of questioning.

How Does It Handle?

The gameplay is easy to learn and intuitive. The story is engaging, especially if you love a good conspiracy theory, and I felt immediately drawn in by it. The puzzles are challenging but not convoluted like in the Monkey Island series. I did need assistance to help with the odd puzzle, but I never got bored of this game.

Graphics

The game is designed to be reminiscent of the classic animated film genre. The scenes are incredibly detailed and the characters are well animated.

George and Nico’s adventures see them meet a number of undesirables (screenshot taken by the author)

Music

The music is rather understated and takes a back seat in this game. It is mainly used in cutscenes or when you solve a major puzzles. This game doesn’t need music though. The silence and minimalist SFX adds to the realism of the game.

Differences With The Original Release

The Director’s Cut has several differences when compared with the original release. The graphics have been improved and are smoother. There are extra scenes; in the original you begin with Stobbart at the Café, but in the Director’s Cut, you begin with Nico needing to escape Plantard’s house. Artwork of character profiles appear during conversation scenes, and there are extra puzzles to work your way through.

Did I Complete The Game?

I did, but there were one or two occasions when I had to use a walkthrough.

What The Critics Said About The Original Version:

Gamespot.com “Without question, Circle of Blood is an adventure of epic proportions and ranks as one of the most intriguing games to roll out this year. Its only drawback is that the graphics might be too real. After playing the game, you might find yourself wanting to pack your bags and take in the European sights first-hand. But if you’re lacking for travel funds and must stay home and play computer games, Circle of Blood definitely won’t disappoint you. Overall rating 9.2 superb[1]

What Critics Said About The Director’s Cut:

PC Gamer Magazine “Wonky visuals, but this is as close to the Da Vinci Code meets Monkey Island as we’ll get. Did I mention the hot French accent? Overall 69%[2]

Awards For The Original Cut:

Best Adventure 1997 – Generation 4 Magazine

Best Quest – Quest Magazine[3]

Awards For The Director’s Cut:

Pocket Gamer Gold Award 2010 – Pocket Gamer [4]

(Wii version) Best European Adventure 2011 – European Game Awards[5]

My Verdict:

“I love this game, and am a huge fan of the franchise. I love the graphics, the story, and the puzzles. If you like point and clicks, and even if you don’t, I’m sure you will find this game entertaining.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] Anderson, R., (October 3rd, 1996). ‘Review – Circle of Blood’. Gamspot.com. (https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/circle-of-blood-review/1900-2538410/ Accessed 10th December 2019).

[2] PC Gamer. (October 31st 2010). ‘Review – Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars Director’s Cut’. PC Gamer. (https://www.pcgamer.com/uk/broken-sword-shadow-of-the-templars-directors-cut-review/ Accessed 10th December 2019).

[3] Cecil, C., (July 18, 2011). ‘A New STEAM Age’. TED. (https://web.archive.org/web/20131217015330/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcUcl23D7mA Accessed 10th December 2019).

[4] Usher, A., (Jun 28, 2012). ‘Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars – The Director’s Cut’. Pocket Gamer. (https://www.pocketgamer.com/articles/042432/classic-point-and-click-title-broken-sword-the-directors-cut-makes-its-way-onto-android/ Accessed 13th December 2019).

[5] European Game Awards. (https://web.archive.org/web/20120415092901/http://www.european-games-award.com/ Accessed on 13th December 2019).