Back in the bygone era of PC gaming, the adventure genre was at once a unique and flourishing one, allowing for experiences that you simply couldn’t find on consoles at the time. Publishers like Sierra and LucasArts were releasing classic games left and right, many of which would be considered the best titles the genre has to offer even today. Certainly at the top of the heap was LucasArts’ Monkey Island franchise. Combining classic point-and-click mechanics, great puzzles, and extremely funny dialogue, the Monkey Island series was a hit with gamers and definitely fantastic for adventure fans at the time.
Last year marked a great moment for fans of the Monkey Island franchise and its swashbuckling hero, Guybrush Threepwood, as LucasArts released an updated HD version of the classic first entry to the series. Now, LucasArts has revisited the original franchise yet again with the release of Monkey Island 2: Special Edition. Monkey Island 2: Special Edition applies the same model to the original game’s sequel, updating it for modern consoles and PCs with streamlined controls and high-def visuals while still keeping the original foundation of the game in place, including great puzzles and snappy humor. If you loved last year’s trip back to Monkey Island, then you should definitely check this follow-up remake out.
Monkey Island 2 finds our hero in a precarious position, dangling from a rope with one hand while holding onto a full treasure chest with the other. Your potential love interest Elaine Marley seems to drop down on a rope to assist Guybrush, demanding an explanation. It seems that following LeChuck’s defeat at the end of the first game, Guybrush has become somewhat of a blowhard, regaling his exploits and courageous journey to anyone within earshot. Sporting a sprouty pubescent beard and wearing fancy pirate regalia, Guybrush is searching for a mythical treasure, known as Big Whoop, when it appears that the once ghost pirate (now zombie pirate) LeChuck is back and champing at the bit for revenge against his one-time dispatcher.
The original game’s sharp wit and sense of humor return in fine form in this updated sequel. The characters are rife with snappy one-liners, and the game’s puzzles are pretty funny, often requiring you to think a bit unconventionally in order to complete them. This can mean enticing a rat into a trap with the clever use of cheese doodles, or positioning a practical joke above a bully’s door in order to proceed.
Instead of simply updating the game exactly the way last year’s The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition did, the crew at LucasArts did one further and updated the interface. The game is even more polished to work on the Xbox 360 controller, moving the control of the cursor to the right thumbstick, while controlling Guybrush’s walking with the left thumbstick. By pressing on the right trigger when highlighting an object of interest in the environment, you’re able to open up a menu of contextual actions, while the left trigger will open your inventory. The new control scheme is comfortable, and does a great job of modernizing the overall experience.
The new controls are definitely an improvement over the first Monkey Island remake, but they’re still not perfect. While it’s generally agreeable, using the analog stick to walk can cause you to get stuck on objects in the environment, can feel a little cumbersome at times. For some reason, Guybrush gets slow and twitchy when moving at an angle as well.
Graphically, Monkey Island 2: Special Edition has received a comparable update to last year’s Monkey Island: Special Edition, and looks even better. The hand-drawn environments and character models fit well with the overall humorous tone of the game, sporting a clean, cartoonish look. The music and sound have also gotten a once-over, with the soundtrack being updated very nicely and great voice work throughout. Additionally, Monkey Island 2 allows you to listen to the developer’s commentary, listening to the creators’ for a inside look at the game’s creation. Of course, if you’re an old-school purist, the game is playable in with classic graphics, MIDI-based music, and the original SCUMM interface, just like last year’s iteration.
Aside from some finicky movements, Monkey Island 2: Special Edition is another outstanding remake of a true adventure game classic. Whether you’re a gamer that missed out on this game the first time around (shame on you), or someone who simply wants to experience this hilarious adventure in a new light, this is your chance.