Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge - Final Rating

Just as with all classic adventure games, rating Monkey Island 2 is daunting to say the least. I’m going to try not to overthink things. I’m sure you all know that whatever comes out below is purely subjective, and based entirely on my own experience playing over the past month. Let’s do this…

Puzzles and Solvability
I’ll start by saying that none of the puzzles in Monkey Island 2 were unsolvable. I completed the game with only one hint, and my struggles with that particular puzzle were really my own fault. This being said, the game was far from easy. For every puzzle that was solved using logic and applying inventory items in a way you might expect, there was another one that required either trial and error or an outright wacky way of thinking. Charles nailed it when he said that the puzzles in Monkey Island 2 often make sense only retrospectively. Why should I cut the peg leg off the pirate? Why should I put a rat in the soup? Why should I use the monkey on the pump? In hindsight these puzzles seem clever, but I’ve never been thrilled with having to revert to trial and error. Should Monkey Island 2 be punished for this though? Well the quality of the puzzles overall is still very high, so I don’t want to be too harsh. When you sit back and think about all the events that lead to other events (example: blowing the horn near Augustus makes him fire the cannon, which attracts the spitmaster and allows Guybrush to tamper with the contest flags, but he still can’t win unless he has obtained a library card to use as ID at the bar to get the alcohol which needs to be mixed correctly to form a concoction that makes spit thick enough to win, but only when weather conditions are just right), it’s hard not to admire this aspect of the game.
Rating: 7


I like that I was able to solve puzzles without finding the optimal way, such as the spitting contest and the maze in LeChuck's fortress.

Interface and Inventory
There's not a lot to say about this category. The SCUMM interface has always worked beautifully, and it’s the same for Monkey Island 2. If anything, the interface is actually streamlined this time around, with only nine verbs instead of twelve (Turn on, Turn off and Walk to were removed), and all inventory items are represented by images rather than just words. These improvements are perhaps offset by the sheer number of items I had to scroll through towards the end of the game. Unlike a lot of adventure games, including The Secret of Monkey Island, there isn’t an event in the game that rids you of all the items you won’t need going forward. I definitely would have appreciated that at some stage. All things considered though, LucasArts still ruled the roost for this category at this time.
Rating: 9


I did wish that I didn't have so many items to go through when I wanted to find something, but at least they were pretty!

Story and Setting
My comments here might be controversial, but I can only be honest when assessing. I had some real problems with the story of Monkey Island 2. There are two main reasons, and you can probably guess what they are. Firstly, it’s understandable that Guybrush is no longer the innocent and naïve character he was in the first game, but did he have to be such a bastard? A large portion of what Guybrush says and does in Monkey Island 2 is downright nasty. I’m not for a second suggesting that it’s not funny, but by the end of the game I wasn’t entirely sure who was worse out of Guybrush and LeChuck? Secondly, and more importantly, the last portion of the game is very strange, and not particularly satisfying. Yes, I realise that it’s likely a fake reality, forced upon Guybrush by a LeChuck spell, but that doesn’t entirely excuse it. The player spends the whole game attempting to find the treasure of Big Whoop while patching things up with Elaine, only to get an “it was all just a dream” style ending. I put 14 hours into the game, and I didn’t expect to finish it with a whole stack of unanswered questions and unresolved storylines. With that rant out of the way, I should state that my disappointment really comes from the fact I thought this would be the first game to go over 7 for this category. The storyline leading up to the above “climax” is typically exciting and adventurous for the series, and there are numerous classic LucasArts moments such as Guybrush’s costume to the party, the spitting contest, Chester Cheeter and the torture scene. I even appreciated the game’s tendency to consistently kill off the sense of achievement that comes with solving a puzzle by moving the goalposts. Um…errrrr…
Rating: 6


I guess I can forgive the game for having repetitive, uninteresting cut scenes, but only because the creators totally knew it enough to poke fun at it.

Sound and Graphics
It’s interesting to see that TBD gave King’s Quest V, a game I’ve never played, a 9 for this category. Having not played that game, I’m not in a great position to compare the two games. I do know that I gave Loom and The Secret of Monkey Island 8’s, believing them to be the best that adventure games had to offer at that stage. In short, Monkey Island 2 meets the standard of those games and in some ways raises it. Pretty much every screen in the game is filled with wonderful detail, with items often appearing in the foreground to give the location extra depth. Scabb Island in particular is glorious, with the night-time blues that made the two aforementioned LucasArts games so gorgeous used to great effect. The animation deserves attention too, being fluid and often very humorous. If I have any criticism regarding the visuals, it’s that the sex of characters wasn’t always clear. Woody and Chester in particular look very feminine, when their name suggests otherwise. As for the sound, well there isn’t much in the way of effects, but the music more than makes up for it. Michael Land went all out on improving what was already a magical theme tune, and while the rest of the game's music isn’t as catchy, it perfectly accompanies the experience that both Guybrush and the player are going through. I can’t rate this category without discussing iMuse too, which Land created to seamlessly switch between the many differing pieces that can be heard on each island. It works really well, and once again set a standard for all following adventure games to try to match. So what’s my rating? Well, there’s no doubt that Monkey Island 2 is visually more impressive than its predecessor, and the music is at least as good, with the added bonus of iMuse. I can’t not give it a 9 can I?
Rating: 9


I'm always astounded by the way LucasArts designers use little more than blues and shadow to make tremendously moody scenes.

Environment and Atmosphere
The four islands of Monkey Island 2 (Scabb, Booty, Phatt and Dinky) are all wonderfully realized, as are the structural locations that can be found on each. There’s always stacks to look at, particularly in the various stores where much of the game takes place. I particularly love the Voodoo Lady’s shack, the cemetery, the souvenir shop and the library, all of which are highly memorable and filled with character. Like the first game, the atmosphere switches between Carribean-style party, carnival-like silliness, and a darker spookiness that I particularly enjoy. I consciously noted how critical this atmosphere is to me as a player being willing to stick it out when the game might otherwise have tested my patience. The overall feel is unsurprisingly similar to the first game, and I can’t find any justification for adjusting the rating one way or the other.
Rating: 8


It's always Mardi Gras on Booty Island. It sure feels like it too.


Dialogue and Acting
The dialogue options that I had throughout Monkey Island 2 were outrageously hilarious. As I mentioned in my posts, it was difficult for me to portray this aspect of the game, as the various quips and highly inappropriate responses available to me were not always relevant to the plot. This is a shame, as so much of the game’s charm comes from the conversations between Guybrush and the wonderfully diverse characters that inhabit the three islands. It’s true that a few of these characters are rehashed from The Secret of Monkey Island, but who doesn’t want more of Stan the animated salesman, the pirates of low moral fibre, and Herman Toothrot? There are new great characters to freshen things up as well, like Wally the blind cartographer, Mad Marty the deaf laundry man, and of course, Largo. Technically, the branching dialogue system is unchanged from the previous game, but since it has pretty much become the standard which all subsequent point and click adventure games followed, I certainly can’t criticize the sequel for not making improvements in that area. I gave the original game a 9 for this category, only docking a single point due to there being no voice acting. I feel compelled to give its sequel the same score for the same reasons.
Rating: 9


I was spoiled for choice when it came to smart ass comments.

OK. What have we got here. 7 + 9 + 6 + 9 + 8 + 9 = 48, divided by 60, then multiplied by 100 equals...(drum roll)...80. Ooohh, that's 2 points less than Monkey Island 1! How do I feel about that? I'm fine with it actually. As brilliant as Monkey Island 2 is for the most part, it does have flaws in the puzzles and story aspects. It wouldn't seem quite right if it came in a number 1 to me. 80 it is!


It's time to go and see what everyone predicted. Well it appears many of you expected Monkey Island 2 to end up on top. I'll be interested to see what you think of my reasoning. Did anyone get it smack on? Yes! Three people got it exactly right, being Aperama, Corey Cole and Lupus Yonderboy. Aperama even predicted that the ending would be the reason it falls slightly below the first game, and he's right. Well done to you all. Let the debate begin...

CAP Distribution

6666 CAPs to The Trickster
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Below the Root and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through King's Quest: Quest for the Crown and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Déjà Vu and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Tass Times in Tonetown and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through The Black Cauldron and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Uninvited and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Maniac Mansion and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Mortville Manor and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Shadowgate and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Captain Blood and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Gold Rush! and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (in Several Wrong Places) and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Manhunter: New York and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Police Quest II: The Vengeance and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Psycho and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Codename: ICEMAN and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Hero's Quest: So You Want to Be a Hero and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Emmanuelle: A Game of Eroticism and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Leisure Suit Larry III: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Manhunter 2: San Francisco and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Mean Streets and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Neuromancer and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through The Colonel's Bequest and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Déjà Vu II: Lost in Las Vegas and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Hugo's House of Horrors and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Loom and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Conquests of Camelot: The Search for the Grail and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Earthrise and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Future Wars: Adventures in Time and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Les Manley: Search For the King and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Roberta Williams' King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through The Secret of Monkey Island and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Altered Destiny and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire and blogging about it
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge and blogging about it
  • The Creator Award - 1000 CAPs - for creating The Adventure Gamer blog
  • PISSED On Award - 400 CAPs - for creating the PISSED-rating
  • Does This Even Make Sense? Award - 400 CAPs for creating CAPs
  • Just A Few Questions Award - 200 CAPs - for four interviews that I'm too lazy to look up right now
  • It's Too Much For One Person To Handle Award - 30 CAPs - for letting us all continue his blog after moving on to other projects (Hint: It's on the left, just under “Do We Not Post Enough”)
  • What's Your Story Award - 20 CAPs - for the first ever What's Your Story
  • Scary But True Award - 10 CAPs - for a successful impersonation of Jim Walls<REDACTED>
  • I'm Full of Candy Award - 6 CAPs - for writing piñata correctly

55 CAPs to TBD
  • Classic Blogger Award – 50 CAPs – for blogging about the genuine Missed Classic, Impossible Mission!
  • Wait? What's the Date Again Award - -30 CAPs – that wasn't a real Missed Classic post, was it?
  • LITE Blogger Award – 30 CAPs – for playing through the game in Lite mode, and then doing a blog post about it
  • Get It Cheap NOW Award – 5 CAPs – for pointing out that the game being played was on sale, as well as some other stuff

54 CAPs to Laukku
  • Debugger Award – 5 CAPs – for telling us how to get the Lite version working in Dosbox
  • Do I iMuse you? Am I a clown to you? Award - 5 CAPs – for showing us an interesting article on iMuse
  • No Glove No Love Award – 5 CAPs – for pointing out that the corn cobs are actually gloves
  • Gender Confusion Award – 4 CAPs – for noticing that the Mardi Gras guard was actually female
  • Hey! It's Me Award – 9 CAPs – for having a Monkey Island 2 Guybrush for an avatar
  • Looks Like A Work Presentation Award – 5 CAPs – for linking to some puzzle flowcharts, allowing us all to read about Monkey Island while still at work
  • Just A Little Patience Award - 9 CAPs – for showing us what happens if you wait 10 minutes underwater or get 6000 pieces of eight by rubbing a guy's wooden leg a LOT.
  • The Hip Bone's Connected to My Wrist-Watch Award – 7 CAPs - for telling Trickster how to solve the Bones puzzle
  • What Am I Doing Standing Next To This Hole Award – 5 CAPs - for telling us about the easy way to win the game

25 CAPs to Voltgloss
  • Welcome to the Jungle – 15 CAPs – for not just making a first comment, but making it a ROT13'ed hint one
  • Assistance Dog Award – 10 CAPs - for helping The Trickster out of the jam he was in by suggesting he get a dog

17 CAPs to Fry
  • Big McLargeHuge Award – 5 CAPs – for almost making TBD have to clean coffee off his keyboard
  • It Just Says LeChuck Award – 7 CAPs – for telling Trickster what happens if you go back to Wally's after he's captured.
  • Backwards Designer Award – 5 CAPs – for giving us an insight into how a puzzle may have been designed in reverse

14 CAPs to Aperama
  • Psychic Prediction Award – 10 CAPs – for correctly guessing the final rating
  • Even More Psychiccy Prediction Award – 4 CAPs – for correctly guessing the reason it wouldn't score as well as the first game

14 CAPs to Ilmari Jauhiainen
  • Take My CAPs, Please Award – 7 CAPs - for coming up with more exciting new ways to spend CAPs in our April 1 post
  • The Happiest Place On Earth Award – 7 CAPs – for pointing out what the E ticket was likely referencing

13 CAPs to Joe Pranevich
  • Take My CAPs, Please Award – 7 CAPs – for coming up with more exciting new ways to spend CAPs in our April 1 post
  • There is a Mailbox Here Award – 6 CAPs – for noticing a classic adventure game hiding out in an unrelated comedy video

10 CAPs to Laertes
  • Long LaBig Award – 5 CAPs – for pointing out a joke that only works in Spanish
  • That 90s Show Award – 5 CAPs – for reminding The Trickster what decade he was in

10 CAPs to Lupus Yonderboy
  • Psychic Prediction Award – 10 CAPs – for correctly guessing what the final rating would not go higher than

10 CAPs to Corey Cole
  • Psychic Prediction Award – 10 CAPs – for correctly guessing the final rating

9 CAPs to Niklas
  • Two Out of Three Ain't Bad Award – 5 CAPs – for sharing his frustration with trying to solve Phatt Island's puzzles
  • Dude Looks Like A Lady Award – 4 CAPs – For pointing out that Chester Cheeter was a guy!

7 CAPs to Aperama
  • Take My CAPs, Please Award – 7 CAPs – for coming up with more exciting new ways to spend CAPs in our April 1 post

7 CAPs to Torch
  • Take My CAPs, please Award – 7 CAPs - for coming up with more exciting new ways to spend CAPs in our April 1 post

7 CAPs to Andy_Panthro
  • Take My CAPs, Please Award – 7 CAPs – for coming up with more exciting new ways to spend CAPs in our April 1 post

6 CAPs to Charles
  • Oh, NOW I get it – 6 CAPs – for pointing out that many of the puzzles only make sense retrospectively

5 CAPs to The 12-year-old Alfred n The Fettuc
  • Admirable Conviction Award – 5 CAPs - For earnestly trying to convince the world that a 1967 ride copied a 1991 game

5 CAPs to void
  • Come and Get it Award – 5 CAPs – for noticing the Peter Russell-Clarke reference in the post title

4 CAPs to Reiko
  • Spelling Bee Award – 4 CAPs – for pointing out a typo

Monday, 2 May 2016

Monkey Island 2 interlude: Monkey 2 LITE!

Written by TBD

Before we get to Trickster's Final Rating of Monkey Island 2, I'd like to take a moment to discuss the differences between the full and lite version of the game. Don't worry, the Final Rating will still be appearing in a day or two.

Because I'm rubbish at adventure games (I've blogged two full games for this blog and needed help for both of them,) I'm the perfect candidate to play the version of the game made for children and game reviewers

In 1991 the concept of a LITE version of an adventure game was largely unheard of. The only games I can think of that offered us a crutch were Martian Memorandum, which gave us the option of hints at each location, and Loom, which gave us the option to have to memorise drafts purely by sound (Expert) or with varying levels of visual clues at the easier two levels.

This screen makes me think they really don't want anyone to play the Lite version

The way Lucasarts decided to do it was to offer a LITE version, i.e. a version with many of the harder puzzles removed from the game. Before I discuss the pros and cons of that method, let's go over the details of the differences.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge - Won! (Part 2)

It didn’t take long to get the answers to the questions I asked at the end of my last post. A thump emanated from the next room, and Guybrush announced that he was still alive. LeChuck had to admit that things might not have gone exactly as he’d planned: “Strange. There must be something wrong with my voodoo doll. It was supposed to send you to another dimension, not the next room.” He decided to give it another go, stabbing the voodoo doll once again. This time Guybrush appeared back in the original room, giving me an opportunity to check out the broken treasure chest and anything that might have been held inside. Strangely, all I could find amongst the rummage was a ticket with a capital E on it. After all the effort, was this ticket really all there was to the Big Whoop treasure? I wandered through the door to the right of screen, and thankfully LeChuck was no longer waiting for me in front of what appeared to be an elevator. There was a button next to it, and a plaque letting me know that the service elevator had a limit of 1000 pounds. I pushed the button, and the doors opened, beckoning me to enter. When I obeyed, I found that there was a large box inside, with a sticker stating “900 pounds”. That didn’t bode well. Surely Guybrush’s weight combined with the box would cross over the elevator’s weight limit. Before I could even attempt to pull the lever, LeChuck entered the elevator and once again stabbed his voodoo doll. It was going to take a while to explore this underground area if he was going to keep doing that.


Believe me, if it didn't work the first time, it ain't going to work the second or third either.


You're telling me!


Oh come on. Can't you give me a minute to check things out before torturing me again?


Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge - Won! (Part 1)

Well, I’ve finished Monkey Island 2. I know there are a lot of people out there that find the ending to be disappointing and / or bewildering, but I’m not going to reveal my feelings just yet. That would spoil all the fun. Like Part III, the IVth and final part of the game is nowhere near as long as the first or the second. There was still a lot to do though, and it took me a significant amount of time to get through. I originally had one extra long post, but I've since decided to split it into two more easily digestible parts. At the end of the last post, I’d just caused a huge explosion in LeChuck’s Fortress, causing Guybrush to fly through the air over the ocean. Apparently he stayed airborne for hours, and eventually landed rather awkwardly on the beach of Dinky Island. He appeared to be unconscious at first, but that didn’t stop me from pixel hunting the area. The first thing I found in the near vicinity was a bottle in the water. As soon as I looked at it, Guybrush got up and told me that it was empty, and had a cap on it. There was also a sign behind where he landed, and reading it revealed the following message: “Welcome to Dinky Island, home of the treasure of Big Whoop.”


It seems Guybrush experienced some nasty turbulence and a particularly rough landing during this flight.


Sunday, 24 April 2016

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge - LeChuck's Fortress

I was so determined to complete Monkey Island 2 without requiring assistance. One of the tricky things about blogging through adventure games is that there’s always a bit of pressure to make solid progress every post. It would be pretty boring if I spent two whole posts moving from island to island, trying to find the solution to a single puzzle. Well, I think there would be a few of you that would enjoy watching me suffer, but the majority of readers would likely feel like shouting the answer at me. So it was that I put a request for assistance in at the end of my last post. I’d spent a significant amount of time trying get the last map piece, but simply hadn’t been able to do it. When the first twenty minutes of my next session resulted in similar failure, I decided the time had come to swallow my pride and get a small hint. I was thrilled to see that the hints I’d requested had been provided by a first time commenter (Voltgloss). It’s always good to see new names here at The Adventure Gamer. I translated the first of his hints: “Your inventory is lacking what you need.” This came as a surprise to me, as I felt I’d been extremely thorough when visiting all the locations on all three islands. This information didn’t really help me figure things out though, so I read the second hint: “You've previously seen what you need, but from your reports it doesn't appear you tried to pick it up.” Huh?! You mean I’ve actually commented on, and possibly interacted with this object, but never even attempted to pick it up?” I had a strong feeling that I was about to have a facepalm moment. It was time to sift through the screenshots.


I'd had nightmares about this pile of maps. What could the answer be?