Review: Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge

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via Giant Bomb

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (1991)

PC / Rated E10+

Adventure

Publisher: LucasArts

Developer: LucasArts


Things were looking great for wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood at the end of The Secret of Monkey Island.  Guybrush defeated the notoriously evil pirate LeChuck and he won the heart of love interest Elaine Marley.  However, all is not well in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, the sequel from Ron Gilbert, Dave Grossman, and Tim Schafer at LucasArts.  Guybrush has fallen out of good grace with Elaine and thanks to his quest to find the treasure of Big Whoop, his arch-nemesis seems to have resurrected again as the evil zombie pirate LeChuck.  The sequel to the classic point-and-click adventure game manages to retain the charm of the original and continues to offer some of the best adventure gameplay out there.

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Monkey Island 2 is a classic.  The sequel picks up soon after the original, but Guybrush has had some back luck with Governor Elaine.  Despite these unfortunate circumstances, he goes on to carry out his next mission, which is the search for the grand and fabled treasure of Big Whoop.  This quest brings him to Scabb Island, which is one of three islands that you will adventure across over the course of the game.  The others consist of Booty Island, home of Elaine Marley, and Phatt Island, where Guybrush is currently wanted for a laundry list of crimes.  Things only get more treacherous for poor Guybrush when his quest to find Big Whoop’s treasure inadvertently resurrects LeChuck who has a thirst for revenge…and an unsettling fascination with voodoo.  In fact, everyone seems to have a weird fascination with voodoo this time around.  Finally, unlike its predecessor, Monkey Island 2’s ending offers a surprise twist that puts a nice cherry on top of a rather delicious sundae that is this game’s story.

Of course, point-and-click adventure games live or die depending on the strength of their writing and the crew at LucasArts manages to manufacture another charming story full of wry, smart, and sophisticated humor.  Monkey Island 2 is chock full of hilariously ridiculous and laugh-out-loud moments that still stand the test of time.  But the game’s strongest suit is the characters.  The characters this time around are well realized and each have their own quirks that make them all standouts.  There are a host of new characters as well as some series favorites, including Stan S. Stanman, the eccentric salesman from the first game, who is back and better than ever.  This time around he is trying to cut you a good deal on coffins and he still will not shut up.  Even though they did not do much to change the character, he still manages to be one of my favorites from the game.  You do not have to fix something that works like a charm.

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I should note that I played the Special Edition remastered version of the game, so the games mechanics have been modernized.  The original game uses the SCUMM engine, which was the staple for most adventure games back in the day.  The remaster streamlines a lot of the tedious aspects of the aged engine and makes gameplay a lot more convenient with fewer clicks necessary.  Your standard “look,” “pick up,” and “talk,” etc. actions are relegated to the right mouse button, which brings up an action wheel of sorts, allowing you to click on an object or person in the environment and then pick the action you want to perform on it.  The inventory button on the other hand allows for easy access to the items that you pick up along the way.  Monkey Island 2 is truly an adventure game that stands the test of time in terms of its playability.  I never found myself getting frustrated with the mechanics.  Everything works and runs well.

The puzzles are tough, but they are always creative.  Fans of wacky puzzles and bizarre item combinations will feel right at home with Monkey Island 2’s brand of puzzles.  I must give the game credit where credit is due, however, as none of the solutions felt too far-fetched or crazy.  I like to think of myself as a seasoned adventure game player so I am used to the train of thought that these games require, but I still had to look for hints at certain points.  Luckily, the remaster’s included hint system does the trick.  Unfortunately, you do not have to use every item that you acquire to complete the game.  There are some items, including my treasured portrait of Elvis Presley, that go unused and occupy your inventory the entire game, collecting dust.  I am not sure how my lovely portrait of Elvis would have come in handy, but I was sure hoping it would come to the rescue at some point.

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Since I was playing the special edition, the game’s presentation was much improved.  Additional features like HD graphics and presentation, audio, commentary, and concept art are all included in the final product.  The ability to switch between the modern and classic art styles remains my favorite part of the LucasArts remasters.  Although the modernized HD art is well done and true to the source material, I still tend to favor the charm of the old pixel art.  The audio commentary is another welcome addition, but I would have liked a little more.  It felt lacking compared to some of the other remasters of similar ilk and the fact that the audio commentary does not pause the game made me a little sour on it as well.  Gilbert, Grossman, and Schafer often have a lot of enlightening things to say, but you miss the scenes and the dialog that are happening in the background.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Monkey Island 2 from start to finish.  It is a nice and polished experience that was full of charm and humor.  It is also full of nostalgia, especially for those who are fans of the series.  The Secret of Monkey Island was a fantastic game and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge certainly lives up to its name.

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