The last I saw of Mina, she was jubilantly watching the arrival of a
helicopter to rescue her from the confines of Mysterious Island. A boating
accident landed her on this isolated and hidden isle some time ago. Cut
off from all communication with the outside world, she survived using her
wits and benefited from the friendship of a monkey named Jep. But now,
finally, she is able to go home.
“Come here baby….whatever
happens, we’ll stay together.” Mina
Return to Mysterious Island 2: Mina’s Tale (RTMI2) takes
us back to that moment. We watch as she races to the hovering craft. She
and Jep victoriously climb the dropped ladder to begin their much
anticipated and desired journey to civilization. But, as we all know, life
never runs smoothly in adventure games. Her chopper is attacked and
spirals down to a watery grave. The pilot is killed; Mina is rendered
unconscious. Jep alone is awake and whole and able to act. Once again,
Mina and Jep are marooned on Mysterious Island and must find a way to
survive and to facilitate rescue. Thus, as Holmes would say, “The game is
“It’s like the whole
island is going to disappear under a green cloud.” Mina
While the game is set on the same island as the first, many of the old,
familiar locations are now underwater. The gamer will revisit a few of the
areas from the original game, but mostly you will explore new territory.
Along the way, you’ll discover fresh information about the various folks
who made this place their refuge in times past.
The graphics are beautifully done. Small animations provide an ambiance
that feels authentic. The outdoor settings are lush, detailed, and
beautifully lit. At times my eyes almost hurt from the brightness of the
sun as I panned toward it. Shadows are deep and clearly delineated. Light
becomes filtered when you move inside a building and, of course, darker
and uneven when underground. I particularly enjoyed the way the scenery
wavered slightly when underwater. It felt real.
Two types of cut scenes provide a reward for puzzle solving. Often,
progress was shown using graphic novel panels (like the first game), but
now and again, the gamer is rewarded with a cinematic cut scene. Both
worked equally well.
Layers and layers of sound combined to immerse me in the game’s
atmosphere. For instance, in one area I heard a singing bird to my left. A
bit further away I heard the thump-thump of a windmill and fainter still,
the ocean’s roar. Closer and to my right was the whack-whack of rock
hitting stone as a monkey used it to open nuts. I was surrounded by the
sounds of the island.
From time to time, music filled the air, alternately creating tension
or inducing relaxation, whichever was appropriate to the moment.
“Listen to me carefully.
My time is limited.” Nemo
Though the game is played in first person, we do see Mina and Jep from
time to time. I love the way the artists portrayed Mina as a strong woman,
yet you can see some vulnerability in her eyes. No Barbie doll here --
Mina has reasonable proportions and sensible clothing. She even has
Jep does a great job of displaying emotions through his facial
expressions and his body movements. Watching him run around with a flower
behind his ear was a hoot.
Both are playable characters, with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Jep is the more agile and can go places that Mina cannot easily access,
while Mina can combine items but Jep cannot. Together they make a great
Since they are alone on the island, there is very little dialogue. Mina
does talk to Jep, but there are no long conversation trees. He
communicates with her (as well as with a few non-player characters)
utilizing a pictorial menu. Mina’s chatter occasionally provides a slight
hint as to what the gamer needs to do next. Her voice is just exactly as
I’d imagine it, so kudos to the voice actor who brought Mina to life.
“No point in insisting. It
doesn’t work anymore.” Mina
Mina and Jep’s first challenge is to survive while once again awaiting
rescue. Food, drink, and first aid supplies all must be found or created.
A happiness/energy gauge for each reveals their current state. For some
tasks you need to raise this from orange to green. Usually, it was fun
finding creative ways to improve their outlook, but sometimes it seemed
Also, they must deal with hostile fauna, and avert a looming
catastrophe. To do so, they use all manner of items that they find or
make. As Mina, you combine bits and pieces in the inventory to create just
the right tool for the job. After this game I’ll never look at ants the
same way again.
But concern for their physical wellbeing is soon submerged beneath a
much larger and more dangerous threat. As their struggle continues, the
story twists here and turns there and, in the end, just might surprise
The puzzles are well integrated into the storyline, and some have
alternate solutions. Many are inventory based, but not all. There are
several musical puzzles that require the gamer to reproduce three to five
tones. Musical puzzles are the bane of my existence. I cannot do them, and
these were no exception. However, I was able to continue progressing
through the game by consulting a walkthrough for these particular
There are also several sequences that require you to use precise timing
to accomplish a task. I did not find these difficult and think that most
people should be able to do them without a problem. In addition, there is
one in which Jep will have to catch objects thrown to him. After a few
failures, it is possible to make completing these challenges a bit easier
if desired, though it will cost you a few points.
Additionally, Mina has a few logic puzzles to solve. Most of them I
enjoyed, though there was one I’d never have worked out on my own.
Twice in the game, a particularly bothersome monkey will attempt to
pick Mina’s pocket. Quick clicking will forestall him. I wasn’t fast
enough and he got away from me with some goods. So, on my second
playthrough, I saved just before his appearance and then just kept
reloading my save until I finally vanquished him empty-handed. I don’t
believe he can take anything that will stop your progress in the game, but
I wasn’t willing to take a chance.
A point system lets you track how well you are doing and might provide
incentive for a replay. There are no sliders, mazes, or color dependent
“I’m impressed.” Mina
RTMI2’s interface is mouse-controlled, intuitive, and easy to
use. Most functions are accomplished with a left click. The smart cursor
changes to indicate which actions are available, and which direction Mina/Jep
can move. The right mouse button opens the inventory area. From there you
can access the main menu (save, options, etc.), the gallery (video and
graphic novel type cut scenes), goals (general in nature and checked off
as completed), or review a record of the dialogue.
The game uses 360 degree panning, but the speed is adjustable. I set
mine to slow. My favorite feature, though, is the shortcut button, which
becomes available partway through the game. It allows Mina/Jep to travel
from one location to another instantly, thus making to-and-fro much less
Saves are at will, and unlimited. They are identified by date/time and
a nice-sized picture. The game is Alt+Tab friendly and subtitles are
available. In addition, background music, voice, and sound effects volume
are all separately adjustable. Seven inventory pages is a gracious plenty
and allows gamers to organize the found or created odds and ends to their
Though Mina is resilient, making the wrong move can spell the end for
her in a couple of situations. The same is true for Jep. Thankfully, you
are given as many chances as you need to succeed in these scenarios and if
you annihilate one of them, the action starts anew at the beginning of
A tutorial is available if desired, as is a summary of the events found
in the preceding game, Return to Mysterious Island.
“I’ve done what I can to
help, but I cannot spare you the pain….” Nemo
About halfway through the game, I became stuck. I revisited areas, I
switched players, I wandered around aimlessly, I sent prayers up, and then
finally in desperation, turned to the internet. There I discovered that I
had encountered a game-ending glitch.
My mistake occurred early in the game when I used all the clay
in my inventory while making vases. Thus, when I needed clay to solve a
puzzle which cropped up much later in the game, I didn’t have any. I was
not concerned and just headed back to pick up some more. Sadly, RTMI2
would not allow me to do that. I could go to the spot, and stand on
the clay, but I could not pick it up. Pestiferously, I was forced to start
anew from the beginning.
Kheops has since released a patch to correct this. It’s available
here. However, the patch did not work with my in-progress game.
Other than this, the game was stable and ran without incident.
“Farewell, Mina.” Nemo
Though at times I tired of trying to keep Mina and Jep happy, on the
whole I enjoyed Return to Mysterious Island 2: Mina’s Tale very
much. The puzzles kept my interest. The surroundings were immersive. The
sound work was excellent. The story threw in an unexpected twist, and the
interface was easy to use. Except for the glitch (and that is a big
exception), RTMI2 provided me with many hours of entertainment.
Grade: B+ (without the patch) A if patched
First person, mouse controlled
Excellent background music,
sound effects and voice acting
Logic, inventory, music, and
precise timing puzzles
No color dependant, mazes or
Two playable characters and
360 degree panning (speed can
Instant movement between areas
available midway through game
Easy, intuitive interface
Saves at will and unlimited
A game-ending glitch can be
triggered, but patch is available
I played on:
OS: Win XP Professional SP3
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad
CPU @ 2.40 GHz
Ram: 3.25GB Dual Channel DDR2
667 w/ECC 2-DIMMs
Gx card: nVidia GE Force 8800
Sound card: Creative Labs Sound
Blaster X-FI Xtreme Music