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5 years after my first playthrough, and 19 years after release, LucasArts have improved on their greatest game!

9.5

Editors' Choice
Difficulty:
Hard
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Masterpiece"

Summary

It's been five years. I've been a Monkey Island fan since the beginning of 2005, in which I bought and played all of the games in order. After those playthroughs for the first time, I wanted more, I hoped for more, but I wasn't expecting anything to happen. Suddenly, out of the blue at E3 2009, the first Monkey Island game is getting a remake with voice, remastered music and new visuals! I almost fainted. Then...what's this? Telltale are producing a BRAND NEW Monkey Island series? I did faint.

Telltale's Monkey Island series worked out extremely well, and took the characters and plot in very interesting directions, making Tales of Monkey Island one of my top-half favourites in the series. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, however, while enjoyable as a game, suffered a little in the remake department. From the first game's remake, I got the sence that LucasArts had moved on from Monkey Island given that some of the art had an unfinished look to it (pixels still present, inconsistent art styles, inconsistent quality), and the voice direction seemed slightly off from what many of us fans may have had in mind, the voice casting was spot on, though, and given that LucasArts made the effort to bring back all cast from the previous games was very good of them. The score was also fantastic and proved that Jesse Harlin was more than capable of adapting this classic score.

While I liked Monkey Island: Special Edition more for the fact that it happened rather than for what it was, there was a gaping hole between Monkey Island 1 and 3 now, meaning that Monkey Island 2 was now the only game in the series not to have the voice treatment and high-quality audio and visuals. Before March 2010, I decided, "Ok, if LucasArts can find it in their classic, old-school hearts to remake this game, I'll respect them as a company forever, even if the majority of their modern games are complete tripe." And lo and behold, Monkey Island 2: Special Edition was announced at GDC in March 2010!

Now it's here, and I couldn't be much happier with it.

Sorry if this review is a little longwinded so far, but this game has been a long time coming, and I'm treating this review as a sequel of sorts to my review of the original game five years ago, to this day, the only game I have reviewed on Gamespot. Here's all the points I listed from my original review, and how I feel they have been adapted in the Special Edition:

2005 - I think this game is the second best in the series (Coming really close to The Curse of Monkey Island).
2010 - I have developed a whole new appreciation for Monkey Island 2 these past few years, though Curse is still as excellent as ever, putting Monkey Island 2: Special Edition as my favourite title in the series seems right to me!

2005 - There are two versions of the game, a lite version (which is the medium version) and the normal version which is very hard.
2010 - The Special Edition only comes with the normal version of the game, though if you know where to look on the internet, you can find a patch that forces the game to run in easy mode. All of the exclusive easy mode dialogue and easy mode material has been made, so nothing missing. For players that are stuck, they can use either a hint system, or an object highlighting system to guide them in the right direction.

2005 - But still this is one of the funniest and best games ever made.
2010 - This still stands, I found a whole new level of comedy and enjoyment after playing the Special Edition, the strong voice direction of this game really helps.

2005 - My favourite characters are Guybrush, LeChuck, Wally and Largo LaGrande.
2010 - Love these characters and had a lot of fun interacting with them. Dominic Armato gives his best Guybrush performance yet in this game, and Earl Boen brings LeChuck to life in his usual brilliant performance. James Arnold Taylor as Largo LaGrande grew on me overtime, despite my dislike of Largo's voice at first. Neil Ross returns as the voice of Wally after 13 years since playing the character in Curse, however, his performance is significantly different to the one in Curse, in MI2, it feels a lot more like an exagerrated high voice, as opposed to a fairly normal british voice in Curse. However, it was still a good acting performance, the same can be said about almost every character, except for Kate Capsize. She comes across as very bored during most of her deliveries, and seems to have no idea of the context of her dialogue.

2005 - The music was fantastic (my favourite musics were the Closing Credits, LeChucks Theme, Largos Theme, Captain Kates boat and of course the Monkey Island theme!)
2010 - The music is just as well adapted in this game as in the first. The Monkey Island 2 Theme sounds wonderful, though there is no intro (dancing monkeys) to go along with it in SE mode. Largo's Theme sounds wonderful with live instuments, as does the many variations of LeChuck's Theme. The closing credits medely sounds great and Kate's Boat sounds great with steel drums. The only point where the music seems to suffer is on Booty Island, in which many of the pieces of music are either out of tune (intentional or not), or incorrectly used (the theme from Ville de'la Booty is missing and replaced with the Mardi Gras theme heard later). The iMuse system has been faithfully recreated in the SE and sounds almost as good as the MIDI based iMuse system, especially in Woodtick.

So, in short, excellent remake. This game has proven LucasArts as a company commited to their fanbase, from fixing problems in the first Special Edition to being so faithful to the original game underneath the Special Edition (which can be accessed at the push of the F1 button). However, this game is not the most complete version of the game. The SE removes Guybrush's "Nice ___" lines and replaces them all with "Nice." A few minor music technical faults are noticed from time to time (LucasArts recently fixed the most serious fault with a patch though, and that's the famous "Bone Song"), a few of the more complex iMuse transitions are missing, but congratulations to LucasArts for even attempting to pull off the complex system.

So, aside from being slightly incomplete in terms of some dialogue being changed (copyright or non-voice advantage reasons), this game is basically a near-perfect version of an already near-perfect game.

9.5/10
:)

Oh, and one more thing:
2005 - One of my other favourite LucasArts games is Sam and Max, which I have just started playing and I am really enjoying it.
2010 - Finished Hit the Road this year. Good game. :)




Roger is a very well done, long, nice looking, and playable adventure, though its lack of sharp writing holds it back.

8.0

Superb
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Ambitious"

Summary

"Indie" adventure games can be very hit or miss. Machinarium -- awesome. Some of the SCUMM fan games -- pretty awful and tedious. Jolly Rover tends more towards "quite good but not great". (like this review...)

This is straight point-n-click adventure fare -- you get items, talk to people, do fetch quests, etc. It does offer some fun unique aspects (e.g. there's a game mechanic where you learn "voodoo spells" to solve some quests), and its overall attention to detail and the massive amount of work they've put into this game with minimal budget makes for an entertaining game.

Sometimes my brain wants this to be Monkey Island due to the comedic pirate setting, and it's definitely not, but it holds its own.

The good:
+ Lengthy, meaty adventure game
+ Logical, sometimes challenging puzzles.
+ Good voice overs (though I hate the protagonist, which is a shame...)
+ Colorful and well done hand-drawn artwork.
+ Clever multi-layered hint system

The not-so-good:
- The writing is a little bland, but the light game atmosphere makes it tolerable.
- The main character is a little bit of a wuss... you're basically a prissy Brit (think a British Niles from "Frasier")
- Like many point-and-clicks, there are times when you're walking back and forth between scenes and just want Roger to GET THERE ALREADY... I really don't need to see him walk and walk across a large scene.
- Hint system seems to pop up unexpectedly for no good reason, requiring you to click through its menu, which is annoying. Bug?

Overall, a very solid adventure game, and better than my commercial releases recently. Well worth your "indie" dollar on Steam.




Jolly Rover is a fun little game.

8.0

Superb
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
10 to 20 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Solid"

Summary

To start off, I'm going to say I highly enjoyed Jolly Rover, part of this might be due to the fact I didn't have high expectations when I started playing, I thought it would be a decent game (in the best scenario) that I would have to force myself to finish and hopefully pass some time, it ended up being not like that at all, I even hoped the game was a bit longer, but I do have in mind that it's not sufficient having a longer game simply to theoretically keep the player playing but failing to maintain the experience rock solid throughout the entire play-through, it's better have a brief but intense play-time, than a long-lasting game that doesn't succeed in entertaining the player the whole time. The game will keep you playing for about 5 hours, many multiplayer-focused games of today have that for their single player experience, of course Jolly Rover doesn't have multiplayer but it also doesn't cost 60 dollars, serves to show it's not bad actually. It's just sad that the replay value is practically non-existent, except if you wish to complete the game 100% and couldn't do it the first time, which isn't really hard to perform anyway. Jolly Rover, despite its simplistic approach and low-budget production value, will hand the player a good time.

This is a point-and-click adventure game, so it's essential for you keep in mind that you won't find action moments of any kind, this is all about following the light-hearted story, traveling through many backgrounds and finding solutions to the problems in hand, to do that the player will have access to many items collected during the adventure, many of which can be combined for distinct effects, using these items in the correct location or on the correct person is the key to victory. You should use tips from conversations you had with people, hints from a parrot you team up early in the game, or just plain logic to advance. If you're having trouble with something you can always ask the parrot for help, he'll give you a clever little sentence that should point you to the right direction, if you find his advice insufficient, you have the option to feed the bird with crackers. Crackers are one of the collectibles found in Jolly Rover, along with pirate flags bits and pieces of eight coins (an ancient historical currency from the old times); finding these items will earn the player some bonus features like art gallery with concept art or some cool stuff like character/locations art development, music tracks, etc. Another cool gameplay element is the Voodoo book, which lets the player perform some magic enchantments with results like making fruits fall down from trees or raising up dead spirits, every voodoo spell has a contrary spell to back it up (like a spell for making a fruit fall and one to make it go back up), the way James Rover performs the movements to make the incantation is also hilarious.

Jolly Rover has its charm, it's crafted within the funny dialogs and peculiar ways the story unfolds presented by each charismatic character, the story takes place in the 18th century and has piratey references all over it- which automatically brings to memory a classic point-and-click adventure, the Monkey Island series. It appears to happen in a world dominated by dogs, dogs of all kinds, one of these dogs is none other than Gaius James Rover, the protagonist, someday he's sailing his ship and sees a pirate ship, he decides to say "hello" and with that ends up kidnapped, from there a series of events take place, telling the reader anything more than that would spoil things up, since a game like this bases itself heavily upon the story. Of course the story doesn't amaze, but it's so funny and charming that it's hard not to feel hocked. The voice-over is pretty good, the characters all speak in a very piratey colonial-style, James Rover's voice takes the crown, with his British-sounding voice.

Of course Jolly Rover is not destined to be the best game ever, but it's certainly not the worst, not many gamers today would have the patience to endure even the minimal 5-hour play-through, since this is not about bullets flying or blood splashing, but for those who would like to experience a nice little story of a dog sailor who happens to find trouble just as easy as you'd find stars in a cloudless night sky, then you should give this game a go. If it's not your thing, then it's not your thing, that's life.




What happens when you blend Monkey Island with a world of dogs? A surprisingly good adventure.

8.0

Superb
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Surprisingly good"

Summary

This game clearly takes a lot from the Monkey Island series. Not only is it a classic point and click adventure, but the pirate theme, the terminology, and the humor all ring a familiar bell. This doesn't mean it's a blatant rip-off, though, and Jolly Rover definitely has its own merits.

Gameplay: 4/5
+ I really am not a big fan of point and click adventure games. I have played a number of them, including Monkey Island, and I do have to say that I was surprised with Jolly Rover. I actually really enjoyed this game. The puzzles were never really that hard and they were always approachable and logical (something that is not always apparent in other adventures). This is the one thing that struck me as solid because my experience with other adventures is that you use a combination of random items in your inventory with random items in the world that don't seem to make any sense unless you're reading a walkthrough. Jolly Rover's puzzles, however, are put together very nicely and there are only a few that are really challenging and time consuming. I also liked the fact that you have a book of Voodoo spells that you learn throughout the game that will cause various effects like luring animals, scaring animals, and heating iron objects. If you're ever really lost with what to do, you have a parrot in your inventory that you can talk to. The first request will give you a general hint and if you're still stumped you can feed him crackers that you collect and his clues will grow more specific. I found that most of the time his general hints were good enough to point in the right direction and everything fell into place from there. If you're struggling even more, you can press the space bar and all the items on screen that can be interacted with will highlight. Overall, you still have the fundamental gameplay of a point and click adventure, but the puzzles are really put together in a very structural and solid fashion.

Story/Presentation: 3.5/5
+ The story may not be too exciting, but it's decent enough. What I didn't like is how there was no real introduction to the game. When you start a new game you're just kind of thrown into it without a clear sense of what's going on. There's a very very brief cutscene to start it off, but I think it would have helped if there were just some explanation of who you are. You will eventually learn and understand everything after you've played but to start off it's somewhat confusing. One thing I did like, though, is the humor. Just like Monkey Island, there are some pirate jokes, a few subtle adult jokes, and a number of random and silly jokes. It really helps to have that light-hearted humor in the game.

Graphics: 4/5
+ All of the drawings are put together very nicely. It's unfortunate that you can't really adjust the resolution of the game, but I can somewhat understand if it helps preserve the artwork. Every location seems to be a unified picture that can be frozen at any moment and still look real good. The coherence of the background, foreground, characters, and items are rather impressive. One little quirk is the way in which Jolly Rover flails his arms whenever he walks like they're made of rubber.

Value: 3.5/5
+ The game is a little short for $10 (just a few hours) but it's still a fun game, especially if you like classic adventures or you like Monkey Island. After I beat it, I did have the slight urge to want to replay the game. Maybe not immediately, but at some point I think I would like to revisit it again. There are also a number of things that you can collect throughout including pieces of eight, crackers, and pieces of pirate flags. I didn't collect all of them in my first playthrough, but it might be fun to go back and try and locate all of these items.




Everybody get out your glove it's time to boogy.

9.0

Editors' Choice
Difficulty:
Hard
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Surprisingly good"

Summary

I know what your probably thinking, why is there a Michael Jackson game on the shelf???? BECAUSE HE'S MICHAEL JACKSON! ..... no seriously though, I think this game will only appeal to Michael Jackson fans.

The avatars ain't all that great looking but all I can say is it is pretty fun learning the moves to his most famous songs. The slow songs are easy (Strangers in Moscow, Earth Song, The girl is mine, etc.) but when you get to the faster songs you are bound to start sweating.

The game can have up to 4 players (up to two singers, Michael , and his crew). although we want to play Michael of course. In the beginning it was kind of difficult to keep in sync with the game but after the second day of playing I promise you will get the hang of it and you will have a blast, don't forget to do the ultimate move highlighted in gold (you will probably know what those moves are even if you haven't played the game yet, lol.)

Other than that the game has a good song selection to choose from, and also there is another option to learn the moves from professional dancers. This game isn't Call of Duty but if your looking for a break in between bullets just to let out some stress, I would give this game a try.
7.0

Great
6.6
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