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LucasArts' Secret History: Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge: Second Opinions

04 Aug, 2008

Mojo's esteemed readership chimes in.

bgbennyboy

No-one needs to evangelise for Monkey Island 2, it stands on its own merits.

"Scream as loud as you want, there are no police on Scabb Island"
"Then who eats the doughnuts and roughs up the transients?"

If you can read that and not like MI2 then you're dead inside. A hollowed out shell of a person, running on a cocktail of forlorn hope and spite. Go away, you disgust me. Urrggh.

Brushguy

I've always liked "Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge" better than "The Secret of Monkey Island" for some inexplicable reason, despite everyone always talking about how great the original is. Maybe it's because, overall, "Monkey Island 2" has more of what made the first one great - silly puzzles, insane dialog, a compelling story, pointless sidetracks that were always hilarious to get lost on, and quality graphics and soundtrack, even still for today. Maybe it's because of my affection for games that have a non-linear, massively open-ended design that allows for endless hours of blissful adventuring with tons of locations and a huge inventory. Maybe it's the incredibly creepy buildup to Ron's planned "Monkey Island 3," despite the fact that all of that buildup comes crashing to a disappointing halt by the close. Maybe it's just because I played the games out of order. But whatever the reason - without any detriment to how great the original is - "Monkey Island 2" is definitely my favorite of the two Ron Gilbert games.

Capn Nacho

What's everyone's beef with MI2's ending? I think it was a brilliantly unexpected stroke, and the way the game world sort of unravels in the last couple hours of the game leading up to it is incredibly effective. I've always wondered how Ronzo intended for the series to continue in his "true" MI3; I've always thought of this as the end of the series."

Clone2727

Simply put, the best game in the series and one of the best adventure games ever created, if not the best. From the beginning, it's just pure genius. The story and gameplay are great, and the music is amazing. The game is timeless. Unfortunately, I only got my hands on the game back in about 2003, so I missed out for so many years.

Gabez

One of the very few games that is as good as the best film or book. The best test for excellence is talking to other people about it: I've never met anyone who's played the game, and hasn't responded by going into a dewy-eyed trance. That's not to say that there aren't people who don't like this game: I just have never met them, and can't really imagine their existence. They're the gaming equivalent of dark matter particles: they presumably exist somewhere in the universe, but I'll be damned if I know where to find them.

I replayed Monkey Island 2 recently, and it was just like reading an old book again. The dialogue is punchy, the atmosphere generously oozes, and when you get past Scabb Island, and the game opens up, it's like being a child again. There's this whole world to explore and you don't even know when to start: but it's going to be fun finding out.

Then you stop playing and realise that you're 100 years older than you should be. Aaah, the depression.

Who am I? What have I become?

GloKidd

Monkey Island 2 shares the same place in my heart as the rest of the MI series, I find it hard to pick the one that I like the most without having my brain explode. As I said in my reader opinion for SMI the MI series lives at the very pinnacle of my favorite games of all time, a position that it they will never lose. Never has a series hooked me so completely. As I believe I may have said before, I grew up in an extremely secluded area that one couldnt get to or leave without riding a ferry for 3-5 hrs down a channel in the douglas river, and as such I would always miss out on game release dates and general gaming info. No net and no PC mags leaves one un-informed and behind on the greatest new games :( I first heard of MI2 from a copy of "the Adventurer" that came with Indy4, little did I know the game had already been released. Imagine my surprise when 2 years of intense waiting later when I finally got my hands on a copy only to realize that the game had already been out for at least three years :P While I was choked that I had missed out that long, it certainly didnt stop me from enjoying the game tremendously. By this point I was longer able to play my copy of the 16 color version of SMI due to the dreaded "Runtime error, Integer divide by zero" error that plaged the game on cyrix 486DX66 processors and was feeling a serious Money Island jones. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's revenge more than satiated that urge, and left me wanting much, much more.

I may be one of the few people in the community that absolutely loved the ending of MI2 and accept the happenings that occur to be cannonical. When I think of what LeChuck might have been like when he was alive i get the image of a gruff Charles L. Threepwood having what would end up being a very similar experience to Guybrush's journey to becoming a pirate. While I realize the consensus is that the end sequence is all just part of the curse placed on Guybrush, I dont think that LeChucks fraternal revelation can rightly be dismissed, especially when you remember that you use your own parents skull to make the voodoo doll that ultimately tears of the big guys leg. I always found it dissapointing that this was never explained in any real way in the following titles. To me the concept of the antagonist and protagonist being brothers and only having this revealed after two games worth of animocity toward each other was both incredibly cool and very compelling.

Monkey island 2: LeChuck's revenge is imho one of the greatest titles of all time, once again I whole-heartedly reccomend this to any who enjoys a humorous adventure title. If you havent played this game yet hurry up and do it already, you're missing out.

Guybrush Threepwood

I'm gonna be very quick and go straight to the point: Monkey Island 2 is an eternal source of inspiration to me (and hopefully lots of other people). Furthermore, it's perfection under every P.O.V.

PERIOD.

ICE(to the)BOX

Any and all who indulge themselves in the back catalogue of adventure games will immediately turn to the Monkey Island series as justification for their often disparaged pasttime. Yet there are few among the LucasArts faithful who would mark the original installment as the series' high point. This is because, in the Second installment, Lechuck's Revenge, Master Ronovan Gilberto not only achieves the perfect blend of fluid storytelling and diabolical conundrums which at its release had become nigh unattainable in the modern adventure game front, but additionally elevates his Magnum Opus to high art via an examination of deeper, universal themes running throughout the game, such as death, revenge, and greed. However, perhaps the strongest statement of LeChuck's Revenge is not humor, not fear, but hope.

The story unfolds with chaotic uncertainty. LeChuck returns, this time grislier, more evil. Whereas in MI1, LeChuck was more of a spook to the characters than to any seasoned player, his resurrection brings a fell terror, something vast and deep like a sepulchral pit far below the oceans bottom. His fortress intimidates, many players tell tales of the underground tunnels, built for a dark, unknown purpose. He is accompanied by a grotesque allegory of wanton hedonism, Governor Phatt, in particular, the character I dread the most, if only for his depiction of Human comfort and consumerism gone appalingly awry. Largo, too, serves as a manifestation of fury, and aggression, reduced to a cold, emotionless shell by his physical shortcomings, he seems like the stereotypical bully, wracked inside by the abuse of his peers. Truly, an unpleasant bunch for Guybrush to oppose.

That is where Lechuck's Revenge proves its mettle, it marks the passage of Mr. Threepwood from blanched adolescent to full-blown Pirate, his transition into manhood. He awakes from his long absence transformed, a fallen hero alongside old salts. Bart and Fink, a Coenesque pair if there ever was one, and my personal favorites in this volume, provide sarcasm and disdain alongside casual warnings, a far step removed from some of the painfully obvious Melee Pirates. Captain Dread too, serves as guide through the mystic underworld of the Caribbean, the perfect embodiment of the Rastafarian ideals which inspire the music and tone of the series. I especially regret his absence in CMI. But unlike both what has come before and after, Guybrush in this, is the only one brave enough, or reckless enough, to fully undo LeChuck's potent evil. His Odyssey must be undergone alone.

Monkey Island 2, at one point, channels a sort of holy power, unlike any other adventure game to date, except Grim Fandango. The beachside conversation, this game's crowning moment, will remain with me after all else has faded. That evil may be overtaking the free world, but even it cannot destroy the sort of innocence roiling out from a flickering campfire and piratey song, has always remained a source of hope in this melancholy heart. It always struck me as the post Ragnarok, the sacred place which will remain after all else has fallen to darkness; the door to all marvels, and source of all light.

Jaap

The first game that got me hooked to adventure games. At the time (early 90s, I was 14) we didn't have a decent PC at home, so I was introduced to MI2 by a friend of mine. I totally loved it, so after school I often went to my friends place to play this wonderful game. However, it was a tad too difficult for me. My English wasn't that good back then, and I was new to the genre. So probably wasted hours walking around, not sure what to do. At some point I suddenly was able to make some progress: I put the mud in the bucket. However nothing new happened: I was really stuck. As we were not aware of walkthroughs in those days, and didn't know any other players to help us, in the end we just stopped playing it. We tried the easy mode though, that was also fun, but not the same.

Many years later I acquired the game and replayed it. Although I was now a more experienced adventure gamer, I still got stuck all the time. It was just too difficult for me.... But with some help, I managed to finish it.

I totally loved the wonderful setting, and still dream of the island as if I've been there long time ago. One of my favorite scenes it the very beginning when you loose all your treasures. Made me laugh all the time. Also the drunk singing was hilarious, I couldn't resist trying to find out when they would stop, after some hours of clicking I realized it: never...

Jayel

I've been playing the first two Monkey Island games since I was ten. I played them so much, I have lost all perspective to view them as a gamer. I know every puzzle, I know every joke, I know every twist, and I can probably write detailed walkthroughs while drunk and unconscious.

But I play them still, years after they ceased to be fresh and surprising. It's no longer a game for me - it's a ritual. And, for reasons I can't quite articulate, I love every moment of it.

Jennifer McMurray

I love LeChuck's Revenge as much as The Secret of Monkey Island, and it is one of my favorite LucasArts games. From the moment the credits started with a darker rendition of the Monkey Island theme, it was clear that this game was going to be darker than the original game (although I'd have to say I almost like this theme better than The Secret of Monkey Island's theme). Even Guybrush seemed a bit edgier than before (especially the creepy parts in the cemetary), but even with the darker elements none of the game seemed like it would be out of place in the game world that was introduced in The Secret of Monkey Island.

I usually don't like sequels, as I prefer off-shoots that use the same setting and some of the same characters but are otherwise mostly story-independent (Day of the Tentacle for example). But, here, the advancement of the storyline seemed to work. The original had slight voodoo overtones, with the Voodoo priestess and the Monkey Island cannabals, but in LeChuck's Revenge it was brought to a whole new level. Voodoo is heavily involved in LeChuck's Revenge, and it all makes sense within the Monkey Island game world.

About the only thing that I wish Monkey Island 2 had was a proper sequel. The Curse of Monkey Island was a wonderful game, but I can't help but feel bummed that the ending of LeChuck's Revenge was never really resolved in either of the subsequent Monkey Island sequels.

Kojo

MI2 was cool.

Lagomorph

If adventure had a name... Well... It probably wouldn't be Guybrush Threepwood...

But what a game, right folks? The Secret of Monkey Island had just left us satisfied but craving for more. What would happen between Guybrush and Elaine? Was the Ghost Pirate LeChuck really history? Did Guybrush' crew or Herman ever leave Monkey Island? Monkey Island 2; Le Chucks Revenge gave us more than answers, it gave us a bigger story, handpainted backgrounds an iMuse soundsystem that'd make George Lucas pee his pants (if his team hadn't designed it) and more pirates than you could shake a bananapicker at!

While the visual style changed a lot in the transition from part one to two, fans felt right at home in the town of Woodtick on Scabb Island, the island that never sleeps, and never sees the light of day for that matter. Everything from the dialogue to the characters made you feel like you where on the island. And you even had an easy mode for stupid pe... I mean differently abled people.

Personally, this is my favorite part of the Monkey Island series. The team had completely mastered the point-n-click genre with the previous installment, and they've only improved it with the second one. The humour was never topped, the story was as great as ever, and of course Ron Gilbert was still on the team. While his presence wasn't necessary to make part 3 work, most people could really feel the loss in the dreadful last part of the series.

All and all, Monkey Island 2; LeChuck's Revenge is one of the tops in the adventure genre. While voice acting was still in the mind rather than in the game, the resolution wasn't exactly high def, and the verb system could still be improved, this was a game that swept you away, and never let you go until you had reached the end. (Which wasn't really what people expected it to be...)

A must play for any adventure fan.

LunaVora

I don't really have to say about MI2. It's just that, in 1995 I had my first computer and with it, a box of 11~12 disk. It was a compilation of LucasArts games, containing Indy4, MI2 and the Luftwaffe game thing (can't remember the name x_x).

That's all, MI2 was the first game I ever played. And since then I play it every where (understand on my Wii, NDS, Dreamcast :D).

Matthew Mullen

I was introduced to Lucas Arts games from my love of Star Wars. I bought the [q]Archives[/q] pack for a Macintosh back in the mid-90s, and after playing the Star Wars games, I got into the other LA games. I've been a fan of LA since, and I've played nearly every game. It wasn't until Curse of MI that I was introduced to the MI series Ð somehow I missed it in all the game collections I purchased. As such, I played the Monkey Island series WAY out of order, starting with 3, then 4, and I only picked up 1 and 2 a week ago. All that being said, I knew the games were good, but I've also had about 20 other LA games under my belt before I played these ones, so I had high expectations.

And I wasn't disappointed. The writing, the visuals, the music, everything was leaps and bounds above what I expected. I know the games were made in the early 90s, but they still hold I high entertainment value today. I put up an away message online, stating that I was replaying the series, and I had 10 other people tell me that Monkey Island 2 was one of their favorite games. And it's easy to see why.

One thing I love about the game is the introduction: you start out with loads of money. One thing about adventure games you are always looking for is money to buy things. And, right off the bat, you're given the impression that that won't be necessary this time. Immediately, you know that this is a different kind of game. I also loved the 25 inventory items in the game. Most games today have less than 8, so there really isn't a lot of guess work involved. Interacting with the items in different environments really added an extra level of gameplay that I think is missing from games today.

The MI series is one of the most entertaining series ever, with its sharp wit and interesting story, it is no wonder that it has so many fans all over the world. I would love to see another MI game, and I can only hope that LA has one in the works...

Remi

You're probably dead to me if you don't put MI2 in your top 2 games of all time list.

Sam

Two things (above all) make this game great:

1. Facial hair
2. Disturbing and awesome ending

Simon

I often find new things to enjoy in Monkey Island 2 - perhaps a particular musical hook in the incredible Land/Bajakan/McConnell iMuse soundtrack, or a typically brilliant twig on a dialogue tree. It feels strangely inexhaustible for an adventure game. It did indeed hit me at precisely the right time, and I regard it as my firm favourite and even extremely formative for me, but it's never entirely a nostalgic pursuit to replay this game. It must the game I've returned to most.

Monkey Island 2 confidently grabs the core cast of the first game and surrounds them with newness - there is not a single repeated location (except for the sly tip of the hat to the MelŽe back alley of course). We get a wealth of fresh ideas to fill the twisted Caribbean that the first game hinted at. The juicy beginning on Scabb beautifully punctures Guybrush's newfound 'fortune and glory' whilst simultaneously introducing LeChuck's ex-stooge Largo LeGrande, by having the hero robbed of his spoils of LeChuck-killing in the first tentative clicks of the mouse. It is a playfully cruel poke at the player, reassuring us that in a way nothing's changed, but it's all going to be new and exciting too. Largo is an inspired creation, and quickly we get the terrorised Woodtick townfolk, and the doll-making to introduce the series' darker voodoo edge, all in the first half-hour or so of play. The game already feels plentiful and generous. When you drive Largo off Scabb and charter Dread's ship, you earn Part II: Four Map Pieces, an incredibly satisfying stretch of gameplay that takes an occasional tenet of the LucasArts game design philosophy, that there are other things to do if you get stuck, and spreads it across three colourful islands and dozens upon dozens of excellent puzzles. In a way, this brilliantly overwhelming section is the jewel in the Monkey Island 2's crown, but in a way the game just gets better and better still, tightening the screws right up 'til the thrilling, cryptic finale.

This is definitely the spookiest game, with the spookiest version of LeChuck at its zombie heart. The cutscenes in his bony fortress re-established him perfectly, and I remember as a youngster finding him genuinely scary. Finally winding up at the fortress (a tantalizing prospect up 'til then), then later the underground tunnels were particular twists of the game that felt loaded with dread in a way that few other moments in the series have. I was thrilled by the extra darkness, voodoo and villainy that this game brought to the Monkey Island series. I suppose I liked that balance, and I think the fourth game would have done well to address it, after the third game did so well to recapture some of the brightness and charm of the original.

LeChuck's Revenge is perhaps less beautifully simple than its precursor, but it's still simple. For all its trickier structure and burgeoning size, it's driven by the treasure of Big Whoop, revealed in the campfire intro as the simple Macguffin that replaces 'I want to be a pirate'. Big Whoop neatly takes us right up to the flash-forward prologue of Guybrush dangling above an abyss holding a treasure chest, explaining it all to Elaine, just before the mysterious episode in the tunnels that wraps up the creative peak of the series - and Gilbert, Schafer and Grossman's time with their wonderful creations.

The Tingler

Monkey Island 2 is, in my opinion, a perfect adventure game. It is also a bastard hard one, full of sneaky diversions, things-you'd-never-think-to-check-or-try and a logic all of it's own - but it's a logic nonetheless, and once the player comes round to the MI2 way of thinking, no puzzle is unbeatable. That the puzzles are so gloriously well designed, intricate in their detail and always funny is nothing less than a work of genius.

But then many of the LucasArts school can be described as such. Monkey Island 2 stands apart from even them in that every single character you meet is fun, interesting and has well-written and humorous dialogue. It is what you'd expect by having pretty much every single genius working at LucasArts on the same game.

In what way does it improve on MI1? In every way. From the incredible new iMuse system that would never be used quite as coolly ever again, the wonderfully colourful and varied graphics (MI1 was just really blue or green), the locations bursting with hidden treasures and details, five times as many characters and all of them great, and twice as much animal cruelty. And it's got a song and dance number.

Monkey Island 2 is the best LucasArts adventure game. Hands-down. But how the hell was I supposed to know that the laundry claim ticket was behind the door?!

ThunderPeel2001

After my love affair with The Secret of Monkey Island, it's understandable that I was more than just a little excited about Monkey Island 2, but where Monkey 1 managed to live up to my expectations, Monkey 2 left me cold.

The first two Monkey Island games are very different kettles of fish. The first is a sweet, earnest and honest game. None of the characters are especially cynical, and the game stays true to all of them and the fourth wall is only ever rarely and playfully broken. These were the things that impressed me, the things that I know now are very difficult to pull off well. In Monkey 2 however, cheap and empty cynicism is rife. Guybrush is pretty much hated by everyone he meets for one thing, he also finds himself punished repeatedly. The characters, while still strong, are kept at an arm's length. The fourth wall is frequently broken (try "opening" the Telescope and Guybrush will say "This isn't Monkey 1"). To my mind it felt like Monkey 1 was a surprise success to its lead designer, Ron Gilbert, and when the pressure was on to do it again and create a "bigger, better, sequel", it brought out cynicism, fear and frustration.

Not convinced? Consider the themes of the game. Guybrush has had a major success in finishing off The Ghost Pirate LeChuck, but instead of being able to enjoy this success, people want more from him. They want him to do it again and they're bored and unimpressed with his old story and put him under pressure to do something bigger and better -- just to be able to keep the same level of success he'd previously earned. It felt like Gilbert was saying "I don't know how it happened, it was amazing wasn't it! But now you want me to just churn out that magic again?!". It's a lot of pressure that comes with success, and shortly afterwards Gilbert left LucasArts and didn't attempt to create anything on the level of Monkey Island until just recently.

The Phatt City Library captures a lot of these feelings, from "Next to Nothing, My Time with Guybrush Threepwood" by Elaine Marley to "Hal Barwood on Monkey Island 2" in which Guybrush reads "you can't polish a turd". The game felt to me like it came from someone who really didn't want that success and didn't know if he could replicate it, and so everything was thrown together, including the infamous and empty ending.

Don't think I didn't give it a chance. I played Monkey 2 repeatedly, hoping to one day, finally "get it" (I even spent eight hours playing the whole thing through in one go, once). I told everyone it was great and that I loved it, but in truth I was hurt by it. It never captured my heart like The Secret of Monkey Island did, but I'm not even sure the game had a heart to fall in love with.

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