When you think of point and click graphic adventures, you think of LucasArts….and when you think of LucasArts, you think of Monkey Island….and when you think of Monkey Island, you think of the ghost pirate LeChuck….and when you think of the ghost pirate LeChuck…I think you get the drift. It’s the turn of the second Monkey Island game in the series to get a make-over, and if you enjoyed the first LucasArts re-make, then get set for some more pirating adventures in Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge.
We pick up proceedings from where we left the previous game. You once again take control of Guybrush Threepwood – the bumbling wanna-be pirate (well, he thinks he’s actually one already) and his attempt to thwart off the vengeful ghost pirate LeChuck, who’s intent on a little pirate payback. To escape LeChuck though, Guybrush has to find the legendary treasure known as Big Whoop. What exactly that is, is not known.
“….and so I said to him “Look behind you, a three-headed monkey”….”
Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge is split into four chapters, each with a specific overall task. The first chapter for example – The Largo Embargo – sees Guybrush’s efforts in abating the control that the bully Largo LaGrande has over Scabb Island. To reach such a goal certain events must take place in a certain order, specifically through a combination of the items you collect and use, the people you meet and the dialogue you choose in conversations with them.
Play is very basic (for this day and age, anyway) and involves travelling to and from various locations via the map, solving small puzzles along the way. Clicking on the array of objects that light up at any one location is necessary to ascertain whether they’re of any use to you. If integral to your progression, they can be added to your inventory and then used elsewhere – you’ve just got to figure out exactly where. It’s a very basic form of gaming. But within it lies what’s so great about this genre – the great fun had explorating, finding new locales and meeting and chatting to the games colourful characters.
“….errrr….I woodn’t know”
The appeal of Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge (and all Monkey Island games for that matter) is definitely enhanced by the silly humour that’s present throughout. There are many laughs to be had and it helps to keep one engaged. You’re guaranteed that at least one of your dialogue response options will be ridiculous, and some have adult undertones. The story can be a bit bizarre at times, but for the main part this old school adventure oozes charm that will keep you enthralled right through to the end.
As for the “Special Edition” elements in this remake, you’ll be able to switch between this new version and the original game from 1991, as you could in the first remake. It shows just how far graphics have progressed over the last 20 years. Hitting the ‘A’ key, when prompted, allows you to hear a short commentary piece from the games creators that offers insight into the particular part of the game you’re at. This could be, for instance, “how tough the music was to implement here” or “how we came up with an idea there”, and it’s a nice little feature.
You can switch back to the original version at any time for some nostalgia.
The new edition is not entirely the same as the old however. Using an item is now conducted via the pointer (right click) instead of from a list of actions at the base of the screen, as in the original. It now offers only actions that you can perform, and cuts out the time-wasting process of trialing the whole array of actions . There is also now an objects shortcut that highlights all the interactive objects on the screen – saving even more time for the ‘impatient’ out there. These features do reduce the level of thought needed to solve puzzles somewhat – and the satisfaction one gets from them – but you can always swap over to the old interface.
The biggest upgrade in Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge comes in the visual department. From the slick menus to the watercolour-like in-game graphics, all are a pleasure to view. Special mention goes to the wonderful background artwork, with subtle movements – like blades of tall grass blowing in the breeze, the ripple effect of water and the slow moving clouds that creep across that sky. The blurring effect of objects in the foreground also looks great. Character animations are smooth and follow the old game’s style – they’re nothing special – but they don’t really need to be for a game such as this.
“Crickey! I thought I’d taken care of you”
The soundtrack to Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge was quite revolutionary in its day. It would smoothly transfer from one track to another when switching locations, using a system called “iMuse”. While this incarnation does not contain iMuse, the soundtrack is still as good as ever, and has a more “jazzed up” vibe to it. The soundtrack sits nicely in the background, (as do some atmospheric ambient sounds), and never gets in the way or ever goes missing.
The same actor from previous Monkey Island games again does Guybrush’s voice here, which is excellent because it’s perfectly suited. Other main characters voice-over actors have also returned, but it is strange hearing some new voices of characters that have not been heard before. A few are not what I’d imagined them to be, and as such seem a little out of place. Regarding the sound effects, occasionally some of the more comical ones are too over-the-top, and therefore don’t have the right impact.
Yep, these are the bad guys.
If you’ve ever played the original Monkey Island 2: Lechuck’s Revenge be rest assured, all the new features only enhance the game, bringing it to life and increasing the entertainment value. It is a relatively easy game in this day and age, and not all that lengthy. It’s also fairly uncomplicated (there aren’t a million objects to pick up) and the puzzles aren’t too difficult, but it is possible to get stuck and some lateral thinking can be required. There’s also some cool production concept art that unlocks upon completion of a chapter. They contain works of the characters in the chapter just completed, detailing various versions that were considered for the game, along with some location art. It’s top quality stuff.
The Final Verdict
They don’t make terribly many point-and-click adventures like the Monkey Island games anymore, but when they’re of such a high quality as Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge, it’s hard to wonder why. I’m not sure how the younger gamers of today receive such “old style” games, but I’d definitely encourage them to check this one out. As a sceptic of remakes – whether it’s a game, a movie or even a song – I have to say that Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge gets it right. It’s an absolute must for fans of the series and nostalgic gamers. One of the best adventure games ever gets an update that loses none of the charm or absorbing qualities that the original contained. It really is classic adventure gaming at its best.