Review by TheHoldSteady
Revenge really is sweet
In 1991 Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge was first released, a moderately obscure adventure game by LucasArts that developed almost a cult following. 19 years later, it's remade and it's special. How special is it, though?
I should start by saying that I'm a life long fan of the Monkey Island franchise. I like the characters, I like the plot, I like the gameplay, I like the humor and I like Ron Gilbert. What do I like about Monkey Island 2 Special Edition? Well there's a lot to like, but I like most of that it's a great remake of an already great game.
Monkey Island 2 SE has the same premise as the original game. It's an adventure game in which the protagonist, dashing pirate Guybrush Threepwood, assuming he has murdered the evil ghost pirate LeChuck, sets his eyes on a treasure called Big Whoop. Along the way he'll meet villains like the foul Largo LeGrande as well as old friends like Stan the used ship salesman, while stopping at nothing to obtain the pieces to find the treasure of Big Whoop. But little does he know that you can't kill what's already dead. The story is as humorous as one would expect from a Monkey Island game, however it's a lot darker than any other Monkey Island game. Guybrush does a lot of nasty things that any long time fan of the series wouldn't expect from the usual kind pirate.
While treasure hunting doesn't strike me as the most interesting thing to do, there's actually a lot more to do than just looking for some treasure. In Monkey Island 2: SE, you'll be entering spitting contests, mixing drinks, borrowing books from the library (Super fun!), blowing horns, stealing hammers and chopping off a pirate's peg leg. The gameplay revolves around collecting various items, either buying them, stealing them or just finding them and using the items you have to solve puzzles, sort of like finding a key and using it to open a door only it gets way more imaginative than just that.
There are 2 modes of gameplay for Monkey Island 2 SE. The first mode is the Classic mode, which is nearly an exact replica of the original Lechuck's Revenge back from 1991. You use the analog stick to move an on-screen cursor, which you use to walk around the Monkey Island world or use items from your inventory. Unlike the original Monkey Island Special Edition which was obviously made before this, you can turn on voice-overs for the Classic Edition which I love. There's nothing like playing a classic game with voice-overs, and the dialogue is all extraordinarily well done, just as you would imagine it to be in an artsy series like Monkey Island.
The other gameplay mode, which can be switched between with a click of a button features an updated engine with all new cartoon graphics with a recolored, remastered world and all new character models. I'm not a fan of the redone controls, the entire HUD with your inventory and list of verbs like "Look At" and "Pick Up" has been doneaway with. It's all moved to a different screen and I'm just not a fan of it, I feel as if it's clunky and unnecessary. Which gameplay mode do I prefer? Well while the newer version has much more beautiful visuals and captured the newer feel of Monkey Island extraordinarily well, I can't help but prefer the classic version because I just don't like the controls of the newer game. After playing through the entire game I never got used to them. There's also the feeling of nostalgia when playing the classic version on a newer console.
The game features a hints system because hey, the internet doesn't exist back in whenever Monkey Island took place. It does just what you'd think it does, the hints start vague and the more you press it, the better hints they give until they practically give it away. I know that there's an achievement for not using any hints during the game, but I don't think there's any other punishment for using too many hints. I feel like a Hint button ruins the concept of an Adventure game where you're supposed to solve puzzles using your wit and dialogue from the NPC, not "Press this button, solve the puzzle."
There are a couple goodies to entertain the Monkey Island fan who waits several years for new releases, like Concept Art and an in-game commentary track featuring the original Monkey Island 2 creators, something you don't see very often. I'd recommend any long time Monkey Island fan give it a listen, as it's very interesting to hear some of the things they have to say.
So all and all, Monkey Island 2 SE is one of the best games the Monkey Island series has to offer. While I dislike the controls of the newer mode, the voice-overs for the classic mode as well as the updated visuals and music make this a remake worth purchasing, I highly recommend it for anyone looking to get into the Monkey Island series or anyone who wants to try out the original Lechuck's Revenge, it just does it right for the most part and if you don't like the newer version, you can always just play the classic.
Product Release: Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge (US, 07/07/10)
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