The Secret Of Lonkey Island (CMDR) (PC (Windows))
Reviewed By Dave E In EGG #005: PCThe Secret Of Lonkey Island
Yes, that's Lonkey Island, not Monkey Island, in this oddity from CMDR. Assuming everyone reading is well familiar with Lucasfilm's classic point-and-clicker, Lonkey Island bills itself as a parody of it, but plays more like a bizarre hack.
In fact, that's not an accurate description; in fact, a better analogy is to compare Lonkey Island to one of the Naked Gun/Airplane movies. You play Grisush Thriftweed who wishes to become Miele Island's chief firefighter. Finding your way to the AdventureGameStudio bar, you'll be set three trials: prove your courage, quench the burning desire of its patrons by providing grog and rescue a cat. The point and click format of the original is preserved, along with many of the collectable items and in-game characters but the puzzles are completely different. Every scene is also flipped horizontally, so every room appears as if you're looking at it in a mirror.
From the outset I should confess that I'm really not a fan of interfering with games in this sort of way. Attempting it with the original Monkey Island will be tantamount to messing with perfection as far as most retro-gamers are concerned. I'm sure I am not the only one who feels it's pretty lazy to take graphics and music wholesale from another game and then fashion them into something else.
Nevertheless, if the game was as hilariously funny as the original - or, indeed, even funnier! - then, as someone who has all the Monkey Islands on every format from the Amiga to the Xbox 360, I'd be the first to congratulate CMDR on wringing a new adventure out of the same elements.
However, I can't. First of all, it's not funny. By which I mean, from what I've seen of it so far, it's not even vaguely amusing. Switching an M for an L is hardly side-splitting stuff and, in the conversations you can have with the same characters - the chef, the pirates, Cannonball Head and the island lookout - they are not only stuck in the exact same locations as the original but say pretty much exactly the same things. (Grisush now says "f***" though because we all know swearing is hilarious.)
Forgive me, but I don't know what this is... but it isn't parody. I persevered with it, but it gave me a very uncomfortable feeling indeed. Something that doesn't help it one bit is that the English language version has been translated from German to English. So whilst the original text was laced with humour, even simple interactions in Lonkey Island are littered with the type of grammatical fluffs that occur when German is translated too literally to English.
In fact, it has only one saving grace. Its puzzles, and to some extent the narrative behind them, are good. For example, to complete your task to quench the pirates' thirst, you'll need to visit the chef's kitchen. In there, you'll find some experimental "just add water" instant grog cans. Water can be had from the sea outside the bar, but you'll also need a mug (handily perched next to the entrance) to mix it all up. Working this out is quite rewarding.
But I must quickly add that you won't get very far at all unless you've not only played the original but can actually remember how you solved the puzzles in it. For example, do you remember the seagull and herring "puzzle"? No? Well, then you'll likely be stumped as to how to "prove your courage" until you've revisted it.
As a stalwart Monkey Island fan, I really wanted to like this. If CMDR had kept the puzzles of this new game but instead brought back the original Guybrush Threepwood to return to the original Monkey Island and changed the backdrops and character graphics to reflect that a few years had passed, my instinct is that this would've worked much better. As it is, they seem to have created something which, whilst not completely nonsensical, is sadly going to have very limited appeal.