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14.11.2013
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is a completely re-imagined version of the first game in the series that adds updated high definition graphics, a re-mastered musical score, and full voiceover.
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The second Monkey Island game begins with Guybrush literally hanging by a thread, dangling helplessly over a pit and grasping onto some kind of treasure chest. Not content with being a one-hit wonder, Guybrush sets off to make a name for himself by hunting down the legendary treasure Big Whoop.
Undeterred, Guybrush hunts down pieces of the map to Big Whoop by searching the local islands - the festive Booty Island, governed by Elaine Marley herself, and the oppressive Phatt Island, ruled by a bloated pig of a man. After piecing everything together (and avoiding any attempts on his life by LeChuck), Guybrush happens upon LeChuck's Fortress and discovers the terrible secret behind his beloved treasure. Although it's not necessarily longer than its predecessor, Monkey Island 2 certainly feels larger, especially since you spend most of the time traveling between three islands, each with several locations of their own. Many familiar faces from the first game return, including the Men of Low Moral Fiber (Pirates), the Voodoo Lady, and good old Stan (who's now in the business of selling used coffins). It's a calming feeling to walk around the town of Woodtick, enjoying the fantastic soundtrack. The library contains dozens upon dozens of silly titles, including several of Guybrush's own (reportedly terrible) memoirs.
In spite of this, Monkey Island 2 is still a fantastic game, and is remarkably well regarded by its fans. Most of the computer versions of Monkey Island 2 are pretty similar, with the only major difference being color depth and music quality. Still, even though it's a vast improvement over the first Special Edition, it's not without some hiccups. Elements like these feel a bit glitchy and unpolished, but some things have been strangely removed from the upgraded version, too. To save this picture, Right-click on the wallpaper, choose "Save Picture As", rename the file whatever you like, and select a folder to store the image. Elaine Marley swoops in to save the day, but not before she makes our hero recount the tale of his precarious position. As one can expect, though, he's not terribly good at his profession, and ends up stranded on Scabb Island. This second act is by far the longest, with each of the four map pieces requiring multiple steps to hunt down.
The final puzzle is a bit brilliant, as it's a variation on the task from the first chapter. The first Monkey Island had some great music, but it was sparse, and huge chunks of the game were played in silence. There are plenty of new and memorable characters too, like the near-sighted cartographer Wally (whom you rudely steal a monocle from early on), Jojo the piano playing monkey, and the hard-of-hearing laundry clerk Mad Marty. There are dozens upon dozens of weird, strange and memorable moments throughout the entire adventure. There's an amusing allusion to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, where you're stranded in a cell and need to somehow get the key from the dog that's sitting just outside of your reach. To compensate, there are two difficulty levels: Normal ("for video game reviewers", claims the packaging) and Hard.


It's full of unconventional twists and revelations, as Big Whoop is far from the typical pirate treasure that both Guybrush and the player were probably expecting. Though its sequels are still excellent, there's something vaguely kooky - and even foreboding - about the atmosphere than its sequels couldn't quite capture, and with that, it still remains incredibly unique even amongst its immediate brethren. However, in 2010, following the success of The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, LucasArts gave an overhaul to the second game, too. All of the music has been redone again, and sounds fantastic, but since it's all prerecorded with live instruments, it's extremely difficult to implement the musical transitions from iMUSE. The opening credit sequence is gone, which shouldn't sound like a big deal, but it was a funny little bit featuring dancing monkeys.
Scabb is ruled by a little bully named Largo LaGrande, who harasses its inhabitants and has instilled an embargo against any ships.
The Tri-Island Area is home of numerous puzzles and dozens of items, but upon taking it step by step, you can eventually piece together the route to each of the four map pieces.
You need to create a voodoo doll of LeChuck, much as you did with Largo, except since you're constantly being harassed by the zombie pirate, you need to think of clever ways to distract him and grab the items that you need.
Monkey Island 2 was the first game that used the iMUSE system, which perfectly transitions the music from screen to screen.
In one, Guybrush knocks himself unconscious and has a dream where his long-lost parents come to visit him, but end up turning into skeletons and singing a variation on the folk song "Dem Bones". And many of the laughs revolve around Guybrush's slightly amoral approach to puzzle solving.
The storyline and events are the same for each, but Hard mode is substantially more elaborate and takes quite a bit more brainwork to solve.
Many of the basic features are the same - upgraded graphics, full voice acting, enhanced music and redone interface - along with the ability to switch back to the original "Classic" mode at any time.
The computer versions do their best and sound almost perfect, except for those with the most trained ears, but the Xbox 360 versions just crossfades the tunes, and it sounds off. The ending originally displayed several dozen suggestions of what you should be doing instead of being cooped up playing computer games ("paint a stranger's house in the middle of the night", or "publish a magazine about pencil shavings" or "sing Welsh folk songs at the bank") but these were missing in the initial release. Ya think a young swabby like yourself's gonna be the first to tame mysterious Monkey Island? He's now a full-fledged pirate, complete with blue overcoat and scruffy facial hair, but his glory days are behind him. The only way to rid the island of this menace is by aiding the Voodoo Lady and constructing a voodoo doll with bits and pieces of Largo's persona. It's also cool how the game doesn't completely forget Scabb Island - you'll need to revisit it several times, allowing you to interact further with some of the characters from the first chapter. Much of this is due to the artists drawing the backgrounds by hand then scanning them into the computer, much like Sierra games had started to do around King's Quest V. Every screen in Woodtick village has a unique melody, each of which exemplifies its inhabitants and the town in general. It's not only weird and trippy, but it foreshadows some of the darker moments of the game, and also provides some hints for a later puzzle. It's pretty funny, except a "monkey wrench" happens to be a uniquely American term, making this puzzle pretty nonsensical to anyone outside the country.
At least the sting of the finale is lessened by its sequel, but for fans that played it back in the day, the long wait between the second and third games - six years total - proved more than a bit frustrating.
The Classic mode also uses some lousy instrumentation, as opposed to the Adlib FM synth most old school PC gamers are probably familiar with, or the far superior Roland MT-32 music.
Well, laddy, there's more to bein' a buckaneer than just swingin' a sword and swillin' gallons of Grog.


He continues to recount his tale of LeChuck's defeat, although the few that actually believe him are sick of his stories, and his romance with Elaine clearly didn't last, either.
Due to the color and resolution limitations, along with inexperience with the digital scanner, they look a bit messy, but the actual artwork is fantastic, and the sprites are just as expressive and animated as its predecessor. Many of LucasArts' subsequent games also used iMUSE, but outside of the X-Wing and TIE Fighter games, none used them as well as Monkey Island 2.
Well, simply steal a cowering rat (from the Men with Low Moral Fiber), sneak into the bar's kitchen, toss the rat in the soup, get the current cook fired, get hired in his stead, take your advance salary, and sneak back out through the window. On the other hand, the Normal mode cuts out so many puzzles that it's almost stupidly easy. The background artwork is simply stunning, perfectly capturing the look and feel of the original scenes while making them much, much crisper.
There's also a Developer Commentary mode, featuring comments from Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and David Grossman.
Some of it gets a bit silly and lowbrow too, like when Guybrush needs to dig up some remains from a grave. At one point you need a key from Stan - so, you convince him to hop into a coffin (to demonstrate its roominess), nail it shut, and make off with the key with him trapped inside. The sprites are much improved too, with Guybrush looking substantially better, as LucasArts responded to the criticisms towards his hair in the first Special Edition. At certain points through the game, you can hit a button and their shadows pop up, Mystery Science Theater 3000-style, and they'll reminisce about the game's development. In fact, many of the puzzles revolve around distracting people so you can run in and steal something.
In Hard mode, you need to trade for it with an artifact from a sunken galleon, which starts off a whole big chain of events. Then, you need to rearrange the flags on the field to make the goal shorter - again, pretty much in line with the usual puzzles. There's some good stuff, but they seem to ignore the most potentially interesting points, like the crazier puzzles or, more importantly, the ending. The game actually keeps a running tally of all of Guybrush's misdeeds, in the form of a wanted poster on Phatt Island, which shows a picture of Guybrush as he appeared in the first game, but with a mustache doodled on. But, what's not immediately apparent is that you need to wait for the wind to blow in order for the spit to travel far enough. It also won't remember if you've listened to a commentary and will prompt you every time you enter the screen, unless you disable the whole feature.
The only indication that the wind is blowing is the movement of the scarf that one of the audience members is wearing - a detail so small you could assume it was just a regular part of the animation.
The voice acting is still aces, you can skip individual lines of dialogue again, and you can listen to it in classic mode too. The interface has been fixed so you can bring up a context sensitive command menu by clicking on something, which is vaguely similar to the one implemented in The Curse of Monkey Island.
You can also directly control Guybrush with a control pad, if you have a strange aversion to mice or are playing the console version.



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