Release Date: 07/15/2009
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LucasArts’ SCUMM engine games hold a great fanbase for those who grew up in the 80s computer gaming scene. They were bright and colorful. Revolutionary, for their time, in terms of gameplay and art. They were also later updated with voice acting which was some of the first of its kind. While the games were short (running around 6 hours per game) they were memorable and had a special sense of humor that was considered top of their class. The series got a much-anticipated remake starting with the first game. While not much was really added, the entire game was redrawn from scratch with all new lines of dialog recorded by the original cast.
The game definitely plays like an old point-and-click adventure of yore. Clumsy controls (which were never really fixed), slow pace, obtuse object hunting, and no puzzles. That’s not to say the game is bad. While it doesn’t feel as modern as The Longest Journey or even David Cage’s games with quick-time events and button pressing that’s part of the charm. Thankfully the game has a hint system that slowly gives you more specific hints including full-on arrows pointing to the exact spot you need to be. This was really helpful and a must-have for first-time players or those who aren’t familiar with this era of adventure games.
The game has two main areas. The first one consists of some small areas, a town, and a large overhead map to get to these areas. Most of the game is gathering items and figuring out where to use them and how. You have multiple commands such as talk to, push, pull, look at, use, open and close. These are used by pulling up an action command menu and then you have your inventory. To use these commands you need to pull up the command menu and then the inventory. This is cumbersome and took a while to figure out. You control Guybrush by clicking around on the ground, but his walk cycle is pretty slow. There’s a lot of backtracking in this game and this slowed the progress a bit. One thing I didn’t like was the insult for sword fighting. You have to lose to pirates to learn their insults and comebacks. You need to learn enough to defeat the first “boss”. There was a lot of trial and error doing this and it got really frustrating.
The star of the show is the characters and the writing. The salesman Stan for example is hilarious. Using overexaggerated arm waving and an obnoxious coat to look like a sleazy salesman. The pirate LeChuck doesn’t get much on-screen time, but neither do most of the characters. The main character Guybrush is who you will get to know the most. There is an optional dialog for most characters to get to know their personality more than their backstory. There just isn’t enough time to get to know them more. So, it makes up for funny writing and witty humor which the game does solidly.
I liked the visuals in this game. The hand-drawn art is beautiful and still captures the classic LucasArts look. Some of the animations feel a bit stiff still, but again, that all adds to the charm. The voice acting is awesome, there is some funny use of items and small little tidbits of humor thrown in that did make me chuckle. I have to say that this game won’t hold everyone’s attention. It is slow to build up and takes a while to get going. A lot of people might feel lost clicking on everything and not realize what order to do things in, but the hint system makes this game much more enjoyable. I highly recommend this classic remake, but it won’t be to everyone’s taste.