So I beat this game. Big Whoop, right?
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge is a game I wish I had played sooner. Like, maybe when I was in high school or back when I dreamed of being a plucky wannabe pirate. Alas, I only discovered it after a Special Edition was created, released for the Xbox 360 Arcade, and then put on sale a few weeks ago. Don’t worry; I’ve already said three Hail Marys and two Our Fathers, and even then I know that’s not enough repenting yet.
In this sequel to The Secret of Monkey Island–which I’ve also not played yet, grrr–Guybrush Threepwood is searching for the legendary treasure known as Big Whoop. Unfortunately, during this hunt he unknowingly resurrects his arch-nemesis LeChuck, who he defeated in the previous adventure, as a zombie. There’s also some mini-plot thing about a love interest named Elaine Marley, but that never seemed like a vital focal point of the game. This Big Whoop search will span several islands, taking Guybrush back and forth as he collect items, solves puzzles, and interacts with a host of memorable, charming characters.
This Special Edition is more than just a re-skinned game. Besides the updated artwork, which is simply gorgeous, there’s re-worked controls to help players not familiar with the SCUMM engine get along much easier. Right-clicking on an item or person brings up a wheel of options, such as LOOK AT Wally, TALK TO Wally, or even the dreaded PULL Wally. That might seem like a weird option, but I suggest selecting it, as now, thanks to the addition of voice acting, every selection elicits a smarmy response from Mr. Threepwood. And the voice acting is stellar, with every character having a strong personality that is instantly captured upon speaking. My personal favorites include Wally B. Feed, Largo LaGrande, and the constantly quieting librarian. You can even listen to this awesome voicework with the original, retro graphics and gameplay. Another addition that long-time fans are probably super excited about is that Monkey Island creators Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman recorded commentary to go with the game as you played; I did not give this a listen yet.
The puzzles range from obviously easy to eye-stabbingly frustrating, and for those that need an extra nudge in the right direction, two new features can be used: a hint button and item highlighting. I didn’t use either to unlock Achievements come the endgame (I know, I’m a whore), but they are there if need be. For the tougher puzzles, mainly all of Part II, I had to use the Internet every now and then. Some of them hurt my head, and some of them proved almost impossible, like when you had to give LeChuck a hanky a split-second before he zapped you with some voodoo magic. That one took me at least fifteen tries to get the timing right.
Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge is both a fun and funny game. Entering a new screen and clicking on everything is thrilling, and I mean that as seriously as possible. I just wanted to know what Guybrush thought about everything, whether it was a stool, a parrot, or even monkey playing a piano. Exploration and an eye for detail is what’s important here, and while the story felt a little rushed during the final showdown, it was wonderful to experience. I have the need now for more point-and-click action, and it looks like I’ve missed out on quite a collection of SCUMM-based games. However, I’ve been warned to steer clear of Escape from Monkey Island. No promises, but I will certainly try.