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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Vintage games: Monkey Island Special Edition on the iPhone

The ScummVM project and the porting on the iPhone were a good omen. But LucasArts' release of Monkey Island Special Edition for the iPhone on July 22, 2009, confirmed the rumors about LucasArts being porting some of its vintage games to the iPhone. Really good news, though, especially for all of the Monkey-fans out there like this 30 years old guy which grew up playing with them.

If right now you're launching the App Store beware the size of the download: 351 MB. If you're not connected to a wireless network then wait for it.  Hurry can cost you very much if you haven't got a flat rate. The size of the application, though, is well justified: a brand new orchestration, spoken dialogs, graphics delivered in two versions (original and Special Edition).

When I first launched Monkey Island on my phone I was really excited. During the application bootstrap I felt that nostalgic impression of remembering  something that you thought it had gone. It's a game, I know, but hey, you're a kid just once. And I was with Monkey Island.

The first impression was pretty good. I didn't remember well the game and the new graphics it bears weren't a shocking surprise to me. They are polished, greatly fit with the application and remember the last Monkey Island PC releases so much. Reading the game instructions I learnt that the gesture to switch to the classic view is a two fingers slide. As soon as it appeared, I clearly remembered. That cross shaped pointer which was a watermark on LucasArts' adventures!

Here are some screenshot of the two look and feels of Monkey Island Special Edition. The first is the map of Melée Island:

The maps are similar and the new look recalls The Curse of Monkey Island. The first thing you should get used to is the new pointer. At the beginning, the good ol' cross pointer was easier to use. The asymmetric pointer with the rotating arrow isn't that usable to me, at the beginning, especially on this device: my brain focuses a point and the finger goes there.

The second snapshot is a view of the village. On the classic view, there you have the verbs and the objects you collected. On the new view, the object are inside the chest on the right corner, at the bottom of the screen whilst verbs are on the face icon on the other side of the bar. A gesture which is available only with the new graphics is that double tapping an object invokes its default verb. Opening a door has never been so easy!

I think the game is really worth what it costs: less than 6 Euros. You will need plenty of time to amuse and get to the end.

The last advice: don't shake the phone. That's the gesture to get an hint. Hints in an adventure are no cool.

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