Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge

Developer/Publisher:  Lucas Arts
Year Released:  1991

Review by Gordon Aplin (March, 2002)
During the introduction to this game our hero, Guybrush Threepwood, is on the trail of an elusive treasure named Big Whoop. He makes the portentous statement that he will become "a legend among pirates for generations to come" if he finds it. I think Guybrush would be pleased to know that he is, indeed, a legend among generations of adventure game fans. Rosemary and I first played this game when it was released in 1991 and we played it again recently because we couldn't resist buying the new Monkey Island Collectors Edition that includes all four Monkey Island games.

As we have reviewed the other three games it would be remiss of us to leave this one out.

So, what happened?
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge opens with Guybrush in a rather precarious predicament, dangling from a rope over a precipice and clutching a heavy-looking chest that threatens to drag him to his doom. Elaine (Governor Marley) climbs down another rope and casually asks Guybrush how he came to be there. "It's a long story." he replies. And so it is.

The story begins much earlier on Scabb Island where your first task is to help Guybrush charter a ship to take him in search of the treasure. Unfortunately, no ship is allowed to leave the island unless you can find a way to beat the Largo Embargo. Largo is a bully, and an extortionist, who used to be a henchman of the dreaded ghost pirate LeChuck, and getting rid of him is your key to leaving the island. If this were an action game you'd have to fight him. Fortunately it isn't, and the problem of the Largo Embargo (and the many other entertaining challenges you will face) is solved only after you overcome many convoluted and wacky puzzles.

All this and more...
This is the game that features the notorious Spitting Contest and the deep philosophical discussion over how much wood can a woodchuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood? Stan the used ship salesman is back only now he sells pre-owned coffins, and Guybrush's sometime stormy romance with Elaine doesn't improve. Did I mention Monkeys? Well you may just find a novel use for one here if you can tear him away from the piano. And you'll need to hone your grog drinking skills, find a proverbial needle in a haystack, learn to make use of the library and crack the code for winning the jackpot on the wheel of fortune. As with all the Monkey Island games an assortment of zany characters are around to help or hinder your progress.

Monkey Island 2 was released only a year or so after its predecessor, The Secret of Monkey Island, then fans had to wait an anxious seven years before the third game, The Curse of Monkey Island, appeared. Graphically the first two games are similar and use the same interface where commands are built up by choosing from a verb list at the bottom of the screen. Many of the commands have a default setting so that clicking on an object in the game world or inventory enables Guybrush to 'look at' it and offer a description or comment. Certain items such as doors also have an alternate command so you can simply right click to use them rather than consulting the verb list. Although, you do need to explore other actions occasionally or you might miss something funny or maybe, something crucial that will stop you in your tracks. Navigation is simple, just point the cursor to where you want Guybrush to go, then click.

Then and now
Time hasn't been kind to the pixellated screens so those who crave the latest graphics may be disappointed, but for sheer fun and immersion through giving the player much to do and think about, and laugh about, Monkey Island 2 is hard to fault. After playing it for only a few minutes I ceased to be aware of the aging graphics and the lack of voices and became thoroughly absorbed in the puzzles and crazy conversations and the numerous humorous little touches that went into making an absorbing game. I could even remember some of the solutions to puzzles, but there were many that I had completely forgotten. The familiar calypso-style music is still there and all descriptions and comments necessarily appear as on-screen text.

In this latest compilation, Monkey Island 1 and 2 are on one CD and they have been tweaked to run in Windows 95/98. No installation is required as they play directly from the disk. They can also be played in DOS without installation if you prefer and LucasArts have kindly included a boot disk utility to help overcome problems in getting the games to run in DOS. I played it in Win 98 and it ran flawlessly.

So if you haven't tried a Monkey Island game and you want to sample one, then this package is great value. It's also great value for anyone who wants to do a bit of reminiscing. Of course the last two titles in the series, Curse of Monkey Island and Escape from Monkey Island, are not as primitive as the first two. They have voices and up-to-date graphics, so the package is worth chasing up even for players who don't like to look back too far. rating:  

Copyright © Gordon Aplin 2002. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
MS DOS 5 or higher, Win 95/98 compatible, 486/66 or higher, 2x CD ROM drive, VGA Graphics Card.

Later games in the Monkey Island Collectors Edition have higher specifications. See the appropriate review for full details.