“Well you’re obviously not Dr. Kildare, then!”

Let's raise a peoples' army and seize control of the state!

Patience. It’s a virtue, apparently. Recent revelations have also lead me to believe that I now have significantly less of it than I used to have in the past, especially when it comes to games. The release of the hi-def remix of The Secret of Monkey Island on Xbox Live Arcade almost had me reaching into my pocket – this was, after all, a game which I remembered very fondly indeed. Back in the dim and distant past when I was but a spotty youth I must’ve gone through the entire game at least a dozen times on my trusty Atari ST despite the fact that it came on four disks and took seemingly forever to load. Then once I upgraded to a PC I went through the whole thing again – several times. This was one of my favourite games, and one which was undiminished in my memory – an all-time classic which obviously would never age. Hmm.

Never being one to spend needlessly (i.e. I am a tight git), I decided against buying the hi-def remake. For one, I’m not keen on voices in games (because I read much faster than people speak) and for two I couldn’t see joypad control being a patch on the original mouse control. Not wanting to be left out of the Monkey Island party, however, I decided instead to replay my original PC version of the game via ScummVM, an excellent LucasArts (and others) interpreter.

Given the amount of time that had passed since my last play-through, I was hopeful that I would have actually forgotten a chunk of the puzzles and would effectively be working it all out again. This, at least, proved accurate – although a number of the earlier sections were burned into my brain in indelible ink, I quickly found myself stumped by issues which I would’ve known off by heart ten years back. Good, right? No, not good. Bad.

I’ve no idea what’s happened in the meantime, but it didn’t take me long to get irate. Guybrush walks really slowly. You spend a frustratingly large amount of time wandering aimlessly between screens trying to figure something out (quite how I ever managed this on floppy disk, I have no idea). Puzzles are often bizarrely obscure, and sometimes you’ll discover something that only triggers if you happen to press on that pixel rather than the one next to it. There’s no way to speed the conversations up or quit out of a repeated conversation without completing the whole thing. Stan the used-ship saleman’s pitch specifically appears to go on for about three hours. By the time  I actually reached Monkey Island itself, I was kind of itching for it to be over. As it is, I kind of… lost interest and left it.

A few weeks later I picked up Full Throttle for the first time and gave that a go. Given that this was ‘several years later’, I figured that it would have ironed out most of these interface kinks and obscure puzzle solutions and would be a much more streamlined and enjoyable experience. Except it wasn’t – if anything it was worse (the interface specifically is absolutely hideous), and I gave up after just a few hours of next-to-no-progress.

This is a bizarre and unexpected turn of events. When I was at university the LucasArts adventures were basically my favourite games – I’d regularly stay up into the wee hours trying to get a little further on Sam and Max or Indiana Jones. And yet now I find them… well… kind of boring. Drawn out, almost.

Games have obviously moved on in the interface department, but I’ve been more surprised at how little patience I have for this kind of thing now. Quite often in the past I’ve campaigned for a return of the point n’ click adventure, but now I’m beginning to wonder whether they aren’t better off left as a rose-tinted memory.

One which I’ve now spoiled for myself by attempting to revisit it… damn. 😦


About Blerk
A pain in the arse of the video gaming industry.

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