Monkey Island 2 Special Edition Review

As expected, Lucasarts decided to remaster Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge after doing a most excellent job on the original. It makes sense as both games have similar graphics, similar interfaces (the SCUMM verb-object design paradigm), and similar audio (well at least for the floppy disk versions). So is the remastered sequel as good as the original (or the remastered original for that matter)?

Sound (5/5)
Once again, voice acting has been included and once again they've managed to get the voice actors from previous games such as Dominic Armato (Guybrush Threepwood) and Alexandra Boyd (Elaine Marley). The voice acting is top notch but when I played the audio was sometimes out-of-sync with the animation. Fortunately, a patch was released later to rectify this issue so gamers playing it from now on shouldn't encounter the issue.

Music (5/5)
Once again Michael Land has done a great job with the music and I think in this particular Monkey Island the music is even funkier than the first.

Monkey Island 2 Special Edition Gameplay Video

Graphics (3/5)
As was the case in Monkey Island 1 Special Edition, all of the original graphics in the game have been updated to a higher resolution while still retaining the same artistic style. This was most likely done on purpose to make hot-switching between the original Monkey Island 2 and the Special Edition as seamless as possible. Unfortunately this means the animations haven’t quite improved as the artwork has been simply replaced the existing sprites and Guybrush’s movement looks a bit wooden when compared to more recent adventure games.

Plot (3/5)
Monkey Island 2 follows the exploits of wannabe pirate, Guybrush Threepwood as he tries to once again defeat the evil zombie pirate LeChuck. Many characters make a re-appearance and there are also quite a few memorable new characters as well. In this chapter of the series, Guybrush has broken up with Elaine and he is on a quest to find a fabled pirate treasure known simply as "Big Whoop". Noone quite knows what "Big Whoop" actually is but it's up to you (and Guybrush) to find out.

Once again there are several funny jokes and moments here and the plot is entertaining thanks to many great characters and Star Wars references (hey this is Lucasarts), however the only criticism I have is that the ending is a little bit lacklustre (thanks to a cliffhanger) and it leaves fans wondering what will happen next. This is a criticism of the original too and one of the reasons I still prefer the original Monkey Island over the second, albeit only by a small degree.

Just like its predecessor Monkey Island 2 Special Edition works just like any point 'n' click adventure game. Interaction with objects and characters on screen is achieved by pointing and clicking with the mouse, you're able to store objects in an inventory, and you use verbs in order to indicate what you wish to do with an object… "Wait, using verbs to interact with objects?" you may ask.

Yes, in older adventure games you actually had to specify what you wanted to do with objects. As the years went by, the number of verbs or actions you could perform started to decrease until you got to adventure games like nowadays where sometimes you'd have no choice on what to do with an object since clicking on it will automatically pick the most appropriate action. Monkey Island 2 on the other hand had a whopping NINE verbs to play with and they've still retained them for the special edition. Fortunately, unlike Monkey Island 1 Special Edition which had an equally cumbersome system to select verbs (i.e. scrolling the mousewheel until you got to the one you want or remembering the hotkeys), the new one allows you to right-click to reveal a "verb rose" (think "Neverwinter Nights" or hell "Full Throttle" for that matter!).

The hot-switching feature that allows you to switch between the old and new versions of the game in real-time is a nice feature but most of the time, it’s just a gimmick. There were only particular parts in the game that I would check back to the original to either see how far the game has come or how some animations or jokes have changed.

Also the game doesn't get a perfect score in the gameplay department since its apparently new and improved hint system isn't actually that great. I've always found Monkey Island 2's puzzles to be even more convoluted than the original so there was one part where I'm sure I had to do something but wasn't quite sure how to go about. I went through each iteration of hints that were revealed to me although when I got to the final hint where I expected an answer to be given, there was none which was infuriating. In the end I had to rely on a webpage that had a walkthrough of the original Monkey Island 2 to help me out.

Replayability (4/5)
Just like Monkey Island 1 Special Edition, this is an adventure game and therefore is pretty linear. Consequently it's not very replayable however thanks to the power of Steam achievements, the sequel is actually a bit more replayable than the Special Edition released last year. You get basic achievements for finishing chapters of the game but there are also others which challenge you to do a speedrun of the game or discover a creative way to kill Guybrush, or visit a screen that spawns at random. Sure there aren't many achievements and they're not the world's greatest but at least the developers are attempting to add more replayability to a genre that is usually sorely lacking in that department.

Example of Monkey Island 2 Special Edition Achievements

The game is pretty well polished except for the synchronisation bug I was discussing in the sound section.

Overall - 8/10
Not as well polished as the first attempt but once again, another classic adventure game is reborn!

If you want to get the game, you can purchase it online off Steam.