This last week I played through the new Monkey Island special edition. This year it’s the second game, LeChuck’s Revenge. I don’t remember especially liking the game when it came out before and honestly it’s no different now.
On the plus side, the sequel looks way better. The environments and character models are beautiful. Most adventure games only wish they could look this good. The music and voice acting is on par as well as some of the best out there.
Some of the problems with the game come from the desire of the developers to reproduce the game as closely as they could to the original. Some things just don’t hold up well.
First there’s the matter of the control scheme. In the first Monkey Island, this didn’t matter so much. In LeChuck’s revenge, though, there are all sorts of parts that require some fast-paced clicking. Waiting for someone to put something down so you can grab it is just one example. The end of the game is especially irritating, and since we’re long past spoilers, I think it’s okay to go into it. Eventually you end up in this series of tunnels (tubes, if you will) and LeChuck is chasing you around with a voodoo doll he made of you. While avoiding him, you have to pick up all these different parts for a doll of your own. Each time you get to one of the rooms you have a few seconds before LeChuck pops in and zaps you again. It makes searching especially irritating and draws it out far longer than it should.
So, how do you resolve this without pulling the game apart and just making a new game? Well for one, buy it on PC. that’s the easy answer. But I like playing games in my living room. Having a click-snap option would make the game too easy - though there are some parts where I really would’ve appreciated it. There’s a spot where you have to hang something on a hook and the gorgeously lush art made the hook virtually impossible to spot.
Another way this one feels like a step back from the first Monkey Island Special Edition is the hint system. I remember loving the hint system in the first one, and while this one works for the most part, it has some major progress-halting problems. I’m not going to mince words: I’m terrible at Monkey Island games, but I adore them. I need the hint system. I haven’t played this game in, what, 15 years? Yeah, I forgot a few things. Due to the more open nature of the game I did a few things way out of order, and as a result something just didn’t occur to me at all. The problem is, if I was away from the location i needed to be at, the hint system would just tell me to go there. So I go there, and all it would tell me is “You should try to think of a way to get this item.” WELL THANK YOU VERY MUCH HINT SYSTEM BECAUSE I WASN’T ALREADY DOING THAT!!1 I ended up having to check a FAQ. For Monkey Island 2. What is this, 1994?
On the voice-recording side of things, there are a few things to talk about. First is the addition of the director’s commentary. Getting the original Monkey Island guys—including Psychonauts’ Tim Schafer and DeathSpank’s Ron Gilbert—into a room to talk about one of the earliest creations? Brilliant!
The voice acting, while mostly good, is not perfect either. Things that aren’t annoying in text can be very annoying when spoken. On Booty Island, Kate Capsize is advertising for her ship. “Glass bottom boat. Cruises. Glass bottom boat. Glass bottom boat.” The developers really should’ve… I don’t know, slowed down the repeat time on that. Just put a 10 second gap after the first round. Maybe a 15 second gap. Or five minute gap. Ugh. Also, the sound effects during the spit contest made me want to puke. UGH.
Of course my overall impression is positive because it’s Monkey Island. I LOVE Monkey Island. I just hope they bring the third one out as a special edition. Now THAT would be cool.