Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge SE
Guybrush Threepwood is on a quest to find the fabled treasure of Big Whoop. Content to do things in his own unique way, he’s the kind of guy who would get you fired from your job for the sole purpose of filling the position himself, before grabbing the advance pay and making a break for the next island. Nor is he above a few counts of thievery either. Yet for all his sarcasm, woeful ineptitude and cowardice, the anti-hero of Monkey Island 2 is surprisingly likeable; you might even find yourself rooting for him with no idea as to why. The truth is; you’ll be so eager to solve the latest riddle that it really won’t matter how it’s done, provided that you’re a fan of the genre.
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge is the second instalment in the successful pirate adventure series and the HD gloss in this Special Edition is even more effective than that of its predecessor; it’s bright, colourful, with each island evoking a different atmosphere than the last – the artwork really is worthy of praise. As before, a mere push of a button will allow you to swap modes, revealing just how far the game has come since its pixelated beginnings. There’s very little reason to play the game in the original mode sans nostalgia, yet its inclusion is nonetheless welcome for curiosity’s sake. The looping animations might not hold up all that well in today’s more fluid era but it seems to have been designed this way on purpose, representing how point-and-click adventures were back in the day, albeit in a much more eye-pleasing way.
The adventure will take you from the swampy Scabb Island to the more serene Phatt and Booty Islands, presenting a greater sense of freedom for the remainder of the game. Each land plays host to a range of weird and wonderful characters, most of which serve an important if unforeseen role at one time or another. Some will provide Guybrush with information while others will grant him a special item in exchange for another, frequently resulting in a convoluted fetch quest. The sense of satisfaction upon completing such a quest is great, if a little short-lived. There’s almost always someone standing in your way, meaning the next half hour or so will be spent trying to find out exactly what it is you should be doing and when – it’s something of a double-edged sword and won’t appeal to everyone. If you’re the type of gamer who demands constant action and a quick pace then you should look elsewhere, as the head-scratching antics of Monkey Island 2 are most definitely not for you.
Although the original control scheme is an option, the revamped settings work just fine, combining classic ‘look here – pick this up’ cursor movement with an analogue-controlled Guybrush. It’s much less cumbersome than before, sitting well with the rest of the overhaul while keeping with the deliberate nature of the series. Clearly, there’s not a whole lot you can do with the controls of a point-and-click adventure designed around a mouse and keyboard. The ability to combine items then use them with objects is often required, making the answer less obvious than initially assumed. The ever-vigilant Lucasarts has included a hint system to alleviate the common issue of ‘being stuck’, with the hold of a face button revealing a clue or waypoint arrow, which may appear to guide you after several attempts.
There are occasions when the game offers a clue and leaves it at that, particularly once you’ve been given multiple main objectives. Moments of hair-tugging frustration are inevitable, as will be the desire to consult any number of online walkthroughs. Resist the urge – doing so defeats the very purpose of the game and cheapens any sense of victory earned from conquering the puzzles yourself. It can take minutes, hours, even days as you try to make your way through this intricate adventure, but the hint system and ability to highlight interactive objects in a room will be enough to see you through the majority of the game. Some objectives will have you hopping across islands many times and while this can become tedious after extended periods, the sense that everything is leading to an interesting and creative place will likely keep you hooked until the end.
This is due in no small part to the tale itself; the characters come to life thanks to the superb voice acting and top notch script. Comical lines are plentiful, as the game consistently offers dialogue options that play on the sarcasm of the lead character. Stalwart fans will be pleased to know that the humour has been left very much intact, with Lucasarts making light of itself as well as past Lucasfilm productions – most notably Star Wars. Performing menial tasks such as setting up a library card is kept entertaining through this tongue-in-cheek comedy, revealing a level of creativity from which many of today’s high-flying developers could benefit.
Although most of the puzzles require finding and using a specific item at your own pace, there are a handful of instances where time plays a factor. Usually this involves opening the item menu then selecting which item to use, then quickly activating it before a specific event occurs. The conditions change according to context and things can get awkward later on, when several items must be combined under these timed conditions. There seems to be no real penalty for failure, so what it boils down to is a simple test of patience and joypad dexterity.
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge is everything fans of the series would expect from a high-definition remake. Lovingly recreated with an art-style and sense of humour that will appeal to players of any age, this is a game that the whole family can have a hand at cracking. Of course, it’s still a point-and-click adventure and undeniably shows its age, but it’s also an enjoyable title in its own right – it just never comes close to transcending the limitations of the genre and consequently has a limited core audience. Patience may be the key word here but those willing to see past the frayed edges will find a fascinating world of intrigue, so long as they don’t go in expecting a combat system of any kind or indeed a contemporary control scheme. It may have rusted a little over the years but make no mistake; Monkey Island 2 is still a treasure worth discovering.
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