Tap-tastic puzzle games are all well and good on the iPhone, but this particular puzzler is something different. Something vintage. This isn’t old, this is a classic. A must-own. And, curiously, entirely new at the same time. Read the full Monkey Island for iPhone review below to find out how.
The Secret of Monkey Island earned its place in the annals of history when it was released in 1990. Built on Lucasarts’ legendary SCUMM game engine, it let players tap around scenes to move their character, interact with objects and hold conversations. It’s much-loved by adventure addicts, and the port to iPhone has been handled with grace and obvious care.
Rather than tap the screen directly, swiping a finger across it moves the cursor as if it were a trackpad. At first it seems alien. After all, most iPhone games respond to direct prods and taps. But after a while you’ll find that the trackpad technique has several advantages.
Small objects are easily selected and fine movements can be made without squinting at the screen. It’s a stroke of genius.
As this is a special edition, all the graphics in The Secret of Monkey Island for iPhone have been completely re-drawn. In typical Lucasarts style, they’re slightly dreamy and look the business. For a taste of nostalgia a quick two-fingered swipe will “zoom out” to the original’s blocky pixels, serving as a reminder that you’re playing a completely re-drawn title.
Underneath the new sheen, however, this is the same Secret of Monkey Island. Guybrush Threepwood is the same hopeless protagonist and in a crucial touch, all the original voices are included too. Dialogue is crisp, clear and as funny as it ever was.
The game remains an absolute peach, and a worthy break from fast-action and one-hit puzzles. The Secret of Monkey Island will last more than one bus journey, and likely work you into furious frustration at times, due to its oddball puzzles and obscure challenges. But then, that’s the point.
Our only gripe comes from Lucasarts’ selection of in-game actions. The Secret of Monkey Island is designed to execute default actions on objects with a quick double tap, but it’s a bit quirky, sometimes working, sometimes not. There’s always manual action selection to fall back on, but it’s a niggling annoyance.
Overall, however, The Secret of Monkey Island for iPhone plunged us back into the 90s with gleeful nostalgia. The game looks better than ever, but remains the grin-inducing, head-mangling adventure we know and love. Download it now. It’s a lesson in timeless gameplay, and a break from the typical games on iPhone.