Monkey Island Retrospecticus
Part II
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge

Written By: Jeff, Gringo, Joe


 GRINGO SAYS: My favorite of the Monkey Island games, and the point at which the series stopped being great.

As much of a dorkmaster general as this will make me appear, I love this game because it creates a world that I'd actually want to live in. That's virtual reality craziness, dude! The atmosphere in this game is awesome, from the town of shipwrecked galleons (an idea that the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie stole) to the creepy voodoo lady's house on the swamp, from the lush graphics -- for the era -- of each unique island to the eerie finale set in an underground seemingly below a buccaneer-themed amusement park.

None of the jokes make me el-oh-el -- in fact, LucasArts games have always had more of a tendency to induce smirks or charm me rather than provide any gutbusting laughs -- but this game has the Holy Grail of wit, great plot, rich characters and locations, and a general all-round feeling of brilliance.

Plus, Guybrush with a goatee and scruffy long hair just looks so DAMN HOT yo.

Whoops, just channeled my inner teenage obese girl for a moment. Won't happen again!

 JEFF SAYS: Ah, LeChuck's Revenge, I remember when I first got the chance to play it. I picked up an issue of PC gamer with a demo CD of Curse of Monkey Island and, as a bonus, it had the first two games on it as well. Of course it cost twenty bucks to unlock them but, at the time, I didn't care, even though I already had a copy of the first one and I could pick up the second at a Babbage's in the area for cheap. I figured, I've got a copy sitting here going unused so I might as well pay up and see what I was missing, besides the CMI demo wouldn't run on my trusty Packard Bell 486.

By the time I played Monkey Island 2, I was already knee deep in the adventure game genre, switching between titles from several companies. During my first run through, I was pretty unimpressed, mostly because I had already finished LucasArts games that had come after this one like Full Throttle, Day of the Tentacle and Sam & Max Hit the Road. About a week or so later, I decided to play it again, just to mess around and ended up enjoying it more than the first time.

It's easily one of the best sequels ever released. The whole thing is on a much grander scale then the original. There's new characters, four islands to explore, improved sound/graphics, everything is just bigger and better than before. Guybrush and LeChuck were given new looks and even more personality with Threepwood acting more like a pirate and LeChuck becoming an evil, voodoo-powered zombie. Even the relationship between Guybrush and Elaine is made interesting by trying to figure out why she suddenly hates the sight of him.

The jokes here are also pretty high on the Humortron 1138 and it's got some of the best sight gags of the entire series. The ever changing wanted poster and Dinky Island telephone (to the LucasArts Hint Line) are probably the most well known and with good reason. For me, the best joke is the build up to meeting Captain Dread as you're given the impression that he's a murderous psychopath from all the locals of Scabb Island only to find out that...well, I'm not going to ruin it but I will say that his boat is my favorite from the series based on its name alone.

As much as the game gets right, there are a few things I didn't care for like the weird finger guessing game and the “Dem Bones” labyrinth puzzle. While getting the lyrics for the latter made for a pretty funny scene, actually doing the puzzle later on was just kind of a chore to me. Then there's the game's ending which is all kinds of a mind fuck and would've remained so if the series had stopped there. Luckily, it didn't.

Those are pretty much just minor complaints; nothing really brings the game to a stop like Insult Sword Fighting did in the first one. I'd also mention the soundtrack, which is good, but the only song that really sticks out for me is the one that plays during the campfire scene in the opening. So, yeah, LeChuck's Revenge is an awesome game that everyone should give a shot at least once.

 JOE SAYS: Let us be very frank here. If you're going to get real dork-anal about all this, and I am, this is the last Monkey Island game. Period. Further, it's therefore the best "real" Monkey Island game. The simple fact of the matter is that the core creative team behind the first two games never again teamed up to produce another entry in the series so, fun and awesome though the games after it (some of them anyway) may be, they most certainly did not capture exactly what Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer (emphasis on Tim Schafer), and Dave Grossman intended for the series' future. Perhaps you are thinking, "Well, surely, Joseph, that's not too big of a deal." GO TO HELL, YES IT IS.

The most fantastic aspect of Monkey Island 2 is that, though it is not entirely dissimilar to its predecessor, I mostly remember and respect it for all the things it did so incredibly differently. The music, the art (which, while dated, is beautifully detailed and still strikes me as gorgeous), the tone -- it's all darker and just cooler somehow. For me, this game seems like what the team was truly striving for all along and makes the original Monkey Island feel like it was mostly just the setup for this one-two punch of awesomeosity. In comparison, the later games, probably because the people behind them respected the originals and didn't want to piss off the fans, have felt very "safe" in a way and were content to revisit a number of the jokes and story elements from The Secret of Monkey Island. Monkey Island 2, however, gleefully tosses out or at least redefines what it had presented us with in its first incarnation.

As mentioned, the art is superb. For example, the town you begin in, Woodtick, is still my favorite location out of the whole series. Also, Guybrush, in keeping with the whole "okay, here's the real pirate game now" feeling, looks like a badass with his sweet coat and beard and, while he's still essentially a numbskull, the idea here seemed to be to actually allow him to be a cool, dirty-looking, swashbuckling pirate (having earned the right in the previous game and all). Sadly, a return to Guybrush as a far more innocent acting and looking character was initiated in the following game, The Curse of Monkey Island, and Guybrush has never reached such heights of cool again (emblematic of that aforementioned "safeness"). I also love LeChuck's design as a zombie and it remains my favorite look for him. His limpy walking animation and the fact that he can't talk without spitting everywhere adds up to give the impression that he's a shambling corpse that could fall apart at any moment.

I'm torn between whether I prefer the music in this game or Curse, but a lot of the themes in LeChuck's Revenge have definitely stuck with me. The IMuse system was in full effect on this game, meaning that most songs came complete with multiple variations, all wonderfully composed by Michael Land. To bring up Woodtick again, I am still completely in love with the town's theme, all the changes it goes through when you enter into the various houses and stores on the island, and Jojo the Monkey's piano version of it. If you are able to play the latter on a real pianer yourself, you hold a special place in my heart, dear reader. ;-* I also still have a great fondness for the "Dem Bones" song, the underwater music, and the Governor Phatt theme. Aside from that, even if the rest of the music didn't burrow its way quite as deeply into my brain, it all fit the game exceptionally well and further solidified its impressive, unique style.

This game isn't perfect. There are a fair amount of irriating-as-hell puzzles (as a kid, I think I probably cheated through the majority of it) and I still don't think it's very funny aside from the part where Largo says "What the HELL?" and the part where a delivery guy says "Gee. What a butt." and those are mostly funny because of the words "hell" and "butt." Also, when discussing this particular game, one must mention the ending which, while cool in how incredibly insane it is, can hardly be called a good piece of storytelling as, well, pretty much everyone who ever sees it is confused by it. It's also another reason that it's unfortunate the game never got a sequel from the people who knew what they wanted from it because, without that knowledge, when left with such a clusterfuck of an ending, any attempts to explain it are likely to be incomplete and shoddy at best, and the explanation provided in The Curse of Monkey Island is, in fact, just that.


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