It’s not really a huge surprise that LucasArts opted to do a special edition of Monkey Island 2: Lechuck’s Revenge. The special edition of The Secret Of Monkey Island was a huge success across all platforms when it was released last year, so it made sense for them to drag Monkey Island 2 kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Ask anyone who was old enough to be playing videogames in the 90s, and you’ll find there’s a standard answer for their favourite adventure game: Monkey Island 2. I first got my hands on the first two games in the series in 1997, when a friend lent me a CD-ROM copy of them. I was eleven years old, and still, for the last thirteen years, I find myself returning to them at least every couple of years.
Much like The Simpsons, Monkey Island had humour that is both hilarious to adults and children, and also timeless.
These days, sequels are, regrettably, sometimes just a rehash of the original game with a few new game mechanics in there to keep things fresh enough. Monkey Island 2 kept the spirit and the humour of the first game, but was a far bigger game. In the time it took to dissolve LeChuck into a root beer grave in the first game, you’ll have barely scratched the surface in the second one.
This special edition version of the game is definitely the definitive one. With the surprisingly jaw dropping HD graphics, and the return of original voice cast, you’ll rarely switch to the original game (but it’s still nice to have the option).
One big change from the first special edition is the new interface. Instead of controlling Guybrush using the classic ‘point and click’ interface (which is still there, if you don’t like the new one), you move Guybrush using the analogue stick, if you’re playing the XBLA version.
The triggers bring up the menus in a fashion not completely different from the third game, The Curse Of Monkey Island. At first, this can be a little fiddly, but it works pretty well once you get used to it. It gets a little in the way in some places, though, particularly at the start of the game in Woodtick.
One particularly enjoyable aspect of the new version of this classic game is the use of a voice cast. The cast are the same as the one that has been used throughout the series, but they really help the characters come to life. For the most part, it sounds like the cast had a great time recording the dialogue, and Dominic Armato (as Guybrush) deserves some sort of medal for getting through that ‘How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood’ scene near the start of the game.
The only real criticism is that Alexandra Boyd wasn’t a particularly good choice for Elaine. She makes Elaine sound more mumsy than heroic, and her lines feel stilted at times. Fortunately, as the rest of the cast do such a stand up job, this doesn’t undermine the game and won’t stop your enjoyment of it for a moment.
It’s clear that a lot of love has gone into making this new version of the game possible. Sometimes just hitting the back button (if you’re playing the XBLA version, like I was) to study the differences between the original game and the new version can be extremely satisfying. LucasArts really has pulled out all the stops in ensuring that we all get a very solid update of the game.
The new version of the soundtrack is particularly enjoyable, with real instruments taking over from the iMUSE engine in the original game. The jokes have all held up excellently, and despite having heard them all dozens of times, I still found myself laughing at them all again.
A lot of fans of the series felt that this game should have been the last, as the ending was very final and to make any more felt like a bit of a cop out. This is a fair point as it was the final game in the series that had Tim Schafer at the helm. However, the series has managed to remain strong and if we were to get a nice shiny HD version of The Curse Of Monkey Island next year, I doubt many people would complain.
If you consider yourself a fan of great stories and great games, then you owe it yourself to play this, whether it’s the first time (and if it is, you are very lucky) or it is the tenth. At such a low price, and on just about every platform going, this special edition of Monkey Island 2 is absolutely essential for everyone.
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge Special Edition is available to download now for PS3, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Windows, and Xbox 360.