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    dkirschner's The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition (PC)

    [March 6, 2012 08:24:55 AM]
    Why oh why can't I get into adventure games? I don't think I lack patience. The puzzles aren't over my head. They have plenty of humor, engaging stories, lovable characters and beautiful artwork. So what the hell is it?

    Adventure games just don't seem to make sense!

    When I was a kid, I played a lot of the old LucasArts games like The Dig and Full Throttle, alongside Myst and others. I liked them. I was good at them. I kept journals in Myst and got pretty far. I beat The Dig and I beat Full Throttle over and over because I wanted to be in a motorcycle gang.

    Then I grew up and didn't play adventure games.

    Then one day I saw Machinarium and oooh'd and aaah'd and clicked "buy now." It was so cool at first, the cute robot, the mean policeman, the mechanical city, the music, the gorgeous backgrounds. I eventually became frustrated by some of the puzzles and relied heavily on a walkthrough to finish.

    I've also tried out some Sam & Max, which went similarly. The solutions seemed random and didn't make good sense.

    I also downloaded Secret of Monkey Island 1 & 2, and Syberia 1 & 2, the former for being point-and-click classics, and the latter for looking really interesting.

    Fast-forward to me being bored on an airplane. I boot up my computer and go to start a point-and-click adventure of The Secret of Monkey Island because I have only a touchpad and can run the game on low power. I'm excited. It's supposed to be one of the most-loved point-and-click games ever. Maybe this one will bring me back to my childhood and reinvigorate my love of adventure games.

    Pros: the usual suspects -- like the style, good voiceovers in the special edition, lots of personality, interesting characters and intriguing story and setting...

    Cons: clunky interface -- Pushing buttons doesn't always work and I have to push things repeatedly to register sometimes. This can be really annoying for timed events, like carrying a mug of acidic grog and switching mugs before the grog melts the first mug. The button inevitably doesn't work and my mug melts, forcing me to go do the whole thing over. Also, there's a hidden edge to the screen. If you mouse to the apparent edge, the game cursor gets over-riden by the Windows mouse cursor and you can't click on anything. So you can never mouse to the edge of the screen. Want to move to the edge of the screen? Too bad! You have to take baby steps! The clunky buttons also make it so you can rarely skip dialogue that you've heard 20 times and really don't want to listen to anymore. Just mash that Backspace and hope it skips. The voices are great, but they get real old having to listen to the same lines over and over.

    And then, the usual suspects -- too many of the solutions don't make any sense! They're not puzzles in this game. There aren't any patterns or anything like that, like I found in Machinarium. There are just objects you use on other objects.

    Examples:

    My first need for help was when I had to find a helmet so some carnies would let me launch out of a cannon. So I went looking for a helmet. I had a pot I'd found, but I was busy trying to fill it with grog to poison some dogs. It wouldn't fill up. I used the "H" hint system, which told me to give the pot to the carnies. Oh, okay. Yeah I guess a pot could be a helmet. I've seen that. But that particular pot doesn't look like a helmet. And when you get shot out of the cannon, the pot falls off your head anyway. Why did I need it?!

    So the pot made some sense. But the next one is why I can't seem to get into these games. There's a part where you have to poison some dogs. I thought I needed to poison some meat I'd found to feed to the dogs to get past them. I'd figured out how to evade the cook and get some meat, figured out how to season the meat, but couldn't figure out how to poison it. There is grog all around, including a barrel of it with a skull on the side, and it's leaking slime green (poison alert?), so I just knew I needed to get some grog on the meat too. There was a chalice elsewhere I couldn't pick up, and the pot-helmet I couldn't use to fill with grog because 'I don't need that much.' So again, nothing left to do. Used H. H tells me to poison the meat with something in my inventory. I look. There is nothing in there. Breath mints. A flower. I use the mints. Nothing. Push H again. "Poison the meat with the yellow flower." What? But why? There is no indication that the flower is poisonous. If you 'look' at it, it just says it has a striking yellow color. How is that intuitive or indicative of poison? Sure, some plants are poisonous, but why would I think this flower is, especially with the presence of the obviously toxic grog? Lame.

    At another point, I had to give an object to a troll as a toll to pass his bridge. He wanted food. I'd tried to give him everything under the sun, and finally obtained a carrot cake from a prisoner, who needed a file to get out of his cell. When you inspect the carrot cake, it just says "It's heavy." Okay. So I take it to the troll, who doesn't want it. That's like the 5th piece of food I've tried on him. I can't do anything else so I use H. H says "Look inside the cake." What? Why would I ever decide to look inside the cake? Because it is heavy? It's totally normal for cakes to be heavy. So, really? I can't go on because I didn't figure out to dig into a cake? I can't go on because I didn't figure out to use a flower to poison some meat? I can't go on because I didn't walk to the end of a pier to step on the edge of a plank and flip a bird off a red herring? I thought I could actually scare the bird like a normal person using any variety of things? Nope!

    So. I've been using H whenever I get stuck. Usually it just tells me to do what I've already been trying and I then figure out a way to do it slightly differently and quite right. Sometimes I'd rather just play this game like an interactive movie with a walkthrough. It's very frustrating, but I do like the characters and am intrigued by the story.

    Le Chuck.

    Le sigh.
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    Status

    dkirschner's The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Wednesday 22 February, 2012

    GameLog closed on: Thursday 8 March, 2012

    Opinion
    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Surprisingly entertaining! And surprisingly frustrating! ---------------- Just use hints when you need to and don't feel bad about it. Such a different way to approach a game.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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