Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge, the classic Lucas Arts point and click adventure game, claws it’s way out of the grave like an undead zombie for the Special Edition, but unlike most reanimated dead bodies, LeChucks’s Revenge looks way better than a decomposing corpse. In fact, it looks and sounds better than it ever has. The visuals and sound have gotten massive overhauls, but does it still feel like the original?
I cheated. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I cheated. You know why? Because sticking a banana on a metronome was not my first instinct when it came to stealing the monkey from the bar to work a mysterious water pump. Perhaps some of you out there have the sharp intuition to understand such things, but not me. I have to ask for hints.
And therein lies both the appeal and difficulty of Monkey Island. It’s ridiculous and genuinely funny with it’s absurd characters and self-referential humor, but it often doesn’t makes sense. Every now and again, logical gameplay is sacrificed for the random joke. This makes the game difficult, but it is hard to complain when there is a hint system implemented into the game to help you out. The only real penalty for taking advantage of the hints is missing out on a few achievements, but the game and story itself is not hindered in any way by admitting defeat to the many brain burning challenges.
Where’s the Easy Button? Oh, It’s the Left Bumper
It’s not really a knock against the game to say it’s hard. As I mentioned, there is a hint system in place. Basically, you keep holding down the (X) button until you get a hint that is so straightforward and suddenly obvious, that you feel like a complete fool. There is also a new feature in the game where all of the interactive elements of any screen will be highlighted with the push of the left bumper. You will get stuck (if you haven’t played the original -- which I had not) but when you do figure something out on your own, it is extremely rewarding. You will teeter on the precarious plank of frustration and reward often, moving back and forth quickly, and that is why Monkey Island is fun. It’s hard, but when you win, you really feel it, and since it is a point and click adventure, there is very little pressure to progress. You can move at your own pace, taking on puzzles as you please.
Guybrush Won’t be Winning Any Footraces Anytime Soon
Speaking of pacing, why does 'Guybrush Threepwood' move so slowly? It’s not a stretch for me to point out that most point and click games, Monkey Island especially, are really nothing more than a series of entertaining fetch quests. All you are really doing in this adventure, is moving items from one person or place to another, and back forth, and so on. Since the majority of the game involves walking around, why not pick up the pace a bit Threepwoop? Just about every other game hero anywhere ever has the ability to jog, except Threepwood. A leisurely walk is Mr. Threepwood’s only pace.
Point and click is a bit deceptive this time around. The controls are defaulted to give you direct control of Threepwood with the left analog stick. Technically it’s a move and click, and technically, it doesn’t really work all that well. The game was not originally designed for the player to have direct control of Threepwood, so it’s common to run into some issues, but it does not break the game. It’s very easy to switch to the original point and click controls anyway, so the fact that the option to directly control Threepwood exists, really comes as a welcome addition. If you don’t like it, just turn it off.
Until Every Update Has this Option, I am Boycotting Madden
The ability to switch between the updated graphics and music and the original has returned from the first Monkey Island Special Edition, and I think it is brilliant. For the Monkey Island purists, you have the option to play the original game in it’s entirety, and for those like me, who never played the original, I get to see what the game used to feel like. I find myself toggling between the two modes constantly. I want to see what all the backgrounds used to look like, and what all the old character models looked like. The differences fascinate me! I wish every update had this same option.
They Hired People Who Are Good at Talking
The production value is for 'Monkey Island 2 Special Edition' is phenomenal. The voice acting is excellent. Every character sounds and effectively feels diverse. The animations are purposefully stilted out of respect for the original release, but Guybrush and LeChuck look and move especially well. It’s a testament to the graphical art style for me to say that I’m not really sure how Threepwood and Lechuck are animated. It looks like those two characters are 3D models, situated into a 2D plane so that they appear to be 2D. It works really well, and they look great.
The music has all been re-recorded using actual instruments, and even though the classic iMuse bit tunes are great, it’s nice to hear actual instruments lend a hand to those tunes.
Three Funny Dudes Talking About Monkeys
Another new feature that merits mention is the audio commentary from the original Monkey Island creators. There is an option for 'Ron Gilbert,' 'Tim Schafer' and 'Dave Grossman' to literally pop on screen talk about Monkey Island while you play. It’s great to hear insight from the guys who made the original. They’re all clever dudes, (they wrote the Monkey Island games after all) so the commentary is unsurprisingly entertaining. The commentary is available right from the beginning which is great, especially if you are a veteran of title. You can passively play the game you already know while listening to these guys talk about the game you love.
'Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge' is a great update to a classic. The original game exists for those who stubbornly refuse to live in the HD era, but if you do like your games in HD, you won’t be disappointed. As someone who never played the originals, my enjoyment of this game is a testament to it’s timelessness. There are games that become unplayable after a few years, bowing to the superiority of games that do bigger and better things. 'LeChuck’s Revenge' is not one of those games. If bizarre circumstances had prevented me from discovering the classic mode, or realizing that this was an update, I could have easily believed the game to have released for the first time last week. Now if they could only make the puzzles a little more intuitive, I would be happy.
Final Score: 8.7
Reviewed by Kyle Hilliard | 07.16.10
- High production value. Great art, great music and great voice acting
- The original exists untouched for those who avoid modern gaming conventions
- Was legitimately funny then, and is still legitimately funny now
- Hint system helps make sometimes non-sensical puzzle solving bearable
- The puzzles can be unclear at times, to a point of frustration
- Controlling Guybrush directly isn’t perfect
- Guybrush Needs to seriously hurry up with the walking