For those not in the know, LucasArts have recently
been giving the venerable Monkey Island franchise a lick, and a spit and a
great deal of polish. Basically, it’s the same game as the one that was
released in 1991, but overhauled to look and sound as if it were made
yesterday. There are some special features and tweaks, but what you got
then is pretty much what you get now.
You can check to make sure – just press F1, and the
game morphs into the "old skool" version. Word for word, scene by scene,
spit by spit.
Guybrush Threepwood is now a pirate, and is on the
trail of the Big Whoop treasure. The fact that it remains treasure means
finding it won’t be easy, not least of all because LeChuck is dead but not
gone. Zombie LeChuck is ambulatory, if not alive, and hellbent on revenge.
Some things have changed. If you played the special
edition of the first game, The Secret of Monkey Island, they will
be familiar to you. One is the added hint system, with three levels of
clues, and this will definitely be your friend. One of my grumblements
about this game when I played the original all those years ago was the
obscure nature of a number of the solves; those solves are still as
obscure, but the hints mean you can be prodded, then poked, then simply
told what to do next. It keeps things moving along.
So too you can identify all the hot spots by
pressing the left and right mouse buttons simultaneously. It helps in
finding relevant objects.
Another difference is the way the verb action is
utilised. You use look/pickup/push/open, etc., to engage with the world by
right clicking on an active object. This brings up a menu of available
options, which might be anywhere from 2 to 5 or 6, depending upon what you
can do with the object. Or you can use the relevant key on the keyboard to
pick the action you want – u for use, o for open and so on.
I liked the latter method better - but both work, and there were times
when using the menu approach gave me another action I hadn’t initially
thought to try.
It has been tweaked too since the first special
edition game. Those controls were clunky, these are not.
Of course, you can simply press F1 and do it old
style. The verb icons are all below the game window, and you just choose
the one you want.
“Like a Steamin Weenie on a hot bun”
There were easy and hard modes in the original, the
former having some less complicated puzzle solves (e.g., you might find
the shirt you need just lying on the bed, instead of having to finagle it
from the laundry man). The puzzles in the special edition appear to all be
the hard versions.
There was also no spoken word first time around,
although in this F1 version you can have the spoken dialogue if you wish.
Consistent with the spruce-up, there is a full-blown musical score in the
As was the case with the special edition of the
first game, there is, alas, no pinwheel. The original LeChuck had a Mix
'N' Mojo Voodoo Ingredient Proportion Dial, which served as the
anti-piracy mechanism. To start the game, you had to complete the called
for voodoo recipe by aligning the appropriate ingredients and then
entering the correct proportions. Far more fun than Starforce, and it left
nothing on your system. If they ever release these games in a box, they
must include a pinwheel!
Sadly, the dancing monkeys in the opening credits
are missing too. Why I don’t know. The skeletons which come later in no
way make up for it.
So much for the mechanics, what of the game itself?
Firstly, it looks and sounds sensational. Voices are
excellent and the soundtrack full and jaunty. LeChuck has a much bigger
hat than his pixelly counterpart, and Guybrush has kept his boofy blonde
mane from later incarnations, but I love the way it has been animated. It
is clearly still the same game world - Scabb Island is as scabby as ever,
and Governor Phatt remains just that - but now your spit is vibrantly
The modern animation helps define the exceptional
level of detail in the original game. Blocks of pixels have their
drawbacks, and fine detail is one of them. Here, just how much
attention was paid to those things in the initial game is clearly evident.
“An ottoman comes to mind”
The humour remains as it always was – punny, funny,
silly and irreverent. Wisecracks abound, and while humour will always be a
matter of taste, the quality of the writing means it would be a sour old
puss indeed who did not enjoy the banter.
As for the puzzles, if there is a game with more of
them I don’t know what it is.
Nearly all of them are inventory based, and as I
said some are incredibly obscure. This is where the hints work best, not
because they give you the answers but because they first provide a line of
thought as to what might work. It might be weird, but go with it, think a
bit more laterally, and you may well find that the out-and-out solve is
I actually think the hint system makes this a better
version. Call me soft, or even lily-livered, but if puzzle after puzzle is
a chore, it eventually strangles all the fun.
There are a couple of outright puzzles, one which
you will have to recognise as such, and one of which is an absolute gem.
It is diabolical simplicity, and to say anything more would spoil it.
There isn’t a sword fight but there is a spitting
contest (in fact, spit features rather a lot in one way or another). There
are also a couple of puzzles where you have a small window of time to
engage in the correct action to complete the puzzle (e.g., you need to
complete an action while everyone is looking the other way). Failure just
means trying again.
Quite a few of the conundrums, especially in the
middle part of the game, require gathering items and information from all
over the place. You will do a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, which verges on
the tedious at times, but if you adopt the approach of going everywhere
initially and learning what you can, then trying to be systematic about
how you might put it all together, you will cut down on the traipsing
somewhat. And you can always press the h key to know where to go
“If a tree falls in the forest, what colour
is the tree?”
I don’t know how long it took me, but all of the
above makes for a long game. Certainly double the length of the first. How
long will depend on how stuck you get, or how liberal you are with the
hint key. I enjoyed it all the way to the end.
Which for me is its lowest point. I never did like
the end, and being the same end I still don’t like it.
Having said that, it is compensated for by some
awesome additions that I have saved till last.
Every now and then you get a little pop-up, inviting
you to press the audio key. What that gets you is a conversation between
the three gaming legends themselves – Ron Gilbert, Dave Grossman and Tim
Schafer – generally reminiscing about a design aspect of the scene in
front of you. It's insightful, entertaining, and worth the price of the
download itself. Make sure you enable it in the options screen, and do not
fail to press the a button when offered.
At certain stages in the game you will also unlock
concept art, which you can examine at your leisure from the main menu.
Finally, in (at least) the Steam version there are 12 achievements you
might or might not accomplish, and your score will be revealed at the end.
All up, and while it isn’t perfect, it almost is.
The Special Edition of LeChuck’s Revenge is as good a time as I
have had playing an inventory game in a fair while. The hint system
overcomes much of what bogged it down for me first time around. Some of
the extras are a little gimmicky, but the commentaries make up for them.
The end is up to you, but unless you rewrite it, it will always be the
For me, it’s better than the first special edition,
and makes this second Monkey truly memorable. I can’t wait for the next
I played on:
OS: Win XP
AMD Phenom 9500 Quad Core CPU 2.2 GHz