A Look at Another Classic - by Lemon Head
Few sequels ever attain higher acclaim then their predecessors, the most recent example of this being The Mummy Returns, which was as time consuming and painful to endure as an enema bag…or so I'm told. However, every once in a while a sparkling gem evolves from an already well-established masterpiece. It captures that special something from the original effort and then adds to it, like when you accidentally get more change back than you spent in the first place, it just feels good. The Empire Strikes Back and Godfather 2 are amongst the most famous examples of these rarities but the movie realm is by no means alone when instances like this are called for. The world of games is also subject to losers (Tiberian Sun) and winners (System Shock 2) but one of the most famous and prestigious of these would have to be that of Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge, the everyman's guide to gameplay and swordplay, take heed.
Can't See The Mass Grave For The Bones
Corpses. Ask someone what comes to their mind when they think of the word 'computer games' and, sooner rather than later, the word "corpses" (or it's nearest equivalent) comes trotting along into their minds and sinks in like a rock into custard. This sort of generalisation is to be expected when referring to RPG's, FPS's, RTS's, and other acronymic game genres because, let's face it, it's correct. But the majority of adventure games, especially those from Lucas Arts, steer clear of the word as though it was a shell suit on Guy Fawks night. This being so, you will be surprised at the carcass-content of this particular title, they crop up all over the place. You'll soon find that a real challenge in this game is to make it through one act without tripping over some poor sod's lifeless cadaver. I'm not sure if I want to know what was going through the designers' minds in the crucial stages of development so I'll just nod, smile and continue on my way because this morbid streak is a mere peculiarity and certainly not a detraction from the overall tone of this great game, it's just…weird. But hey, it's Lucas Arts.
Here We Go Again
Yes, that lovable, incompetent, would-be swashbuckler Guybrush Threepwood is back on the scene with some new threads, a new quest and…er…yes, that's about it. The poor, deluded cub-pirate has fallen from the heights of comfort and is once more shuffling along with the rest of the bums and down-and-outs. Having milked his LeChuck victory for all it was worth and failing to run with the highbrow crowd, Guybrush is just another loser with nowhere to call home, but if you know anything of this ineffectual sap, it's that he's not going to be beaten by mere poverty. He has set his sights on the long sought after treasure of Big Whoop, fabled in song and legend.
As with all sequels, you will meet old faces and new faces, but happily enough this doesn't mean that you get overly bogged down with old material (such as insult something-or-other - MI2 is the only game in the series not to have a spin on this pastime) or force-fed new gimmicks to make the game seem original again, a nice balance is developed between the two which leaves you with a satisfactory feeling of both curiosity and familiarity. This kinship doesn't stop at personalities though; MI2 manages to successfully maintain the old vintage humour of the original and, surprisingly enough, improve upon it. You will often find yourself trying to run through as many dialogue options as possible in a conversation for the sole pleasure of seeing every piece of arbitrary comedy the game has to offer.
Come On, You All Know The Words
One of the first things that struck me about MI2 was its incredible (for those days) music system. When MI2 was first released to the public, its cover was graced with the iMUSE logo to signify the product as being one blessed by the bold, new technology of sound mixing, and to tell you the truth, despite its years, it doesn't sound half bad. The music morphs gracefully and seamlessly between scenes providing solid music throughout around 98% of the game. This may all sound as relevant to the game as moisturisers are to fish, but once experienced, you will understand the fuss. Being midi, the overall sound still has a tinny flavour to it but it's been treated to an overhaul that leaves the tone of the music in a very pleasant and catchy state. For days after completing MI2 I was still whistling the tunes of, not just the main theme, but various scenes throughout, and inducing frenzied infuriation (probably because they cant stop whistling it now) in those I know and live with, the sure-fire sign of a good melody if ever I saw (heard?) one.
Other than the sound, everything else in the game is pretty much as to be expected. The graphics, while not being spectacular, are still very decent in their own right and provoke a high degree of nostalgia in most people. In fact, it's quite interesting to see how the artwork used in MI2 is visibly morphing into the familiar Lucas Arts mannerism of curves, warps, and mis-proportions instead of the more Disney-esque system of straight lines and angles. Unfortunately, this impressive scenery has some minor drawbacks. Owing to the palettes used in the game, a lot of blending can occur between objects and backgrounds, the upshot of which is that some puzzles become infuriating because you just couldn't see the object needed to facilitate the solution. This would not seem so bad as, due to the fact that the puzzles are generally logical or at least understandable, you usually have some idea of what you're looking for to solve a certain issue, but sometimes you find yourself in the annoying position of having a mechanically perfect answer to a problem (yes, even better then battering the wizard with your +1 mace and stealing the bloody master key from his disfigured corpse) but being unable to apply it because it hasn't been accounted for as a possible alternative.
Give It To Me Straight, Doc
Those niggles mentioned above are not nearly as serious as they might seem, and are in fact infrequent occurrences, but it's always necessary to show the other side of an argument no matter how weedy it may be. The truth of it is that MI2 is damn good fun and more than worthy of your attention, if you haven't already had a shot at this game (and I'm sure most of you have) then do so this instant…right now. Where the graphics or sounds might fall down for some players (and they shouldn't), the sheer playability of the game and the enjoyment you get from it makes up for all ills. MI2 is one of my favourite Lucas Arts products and certainly favoured by the majority as the best Monkey Island game, nay, the best Lucas Arts game there is. And if that testimony hasn't swayed you, just remember this: you're stupid.