I'm excited. Are you excited?
If you’d asked me five years ago whether I’d end up writing guest posts for The Adventure Gamer, I would have told you that you were completely mad. But here I am, eighteen months after handing over the blog to the community, taking a break from a very different project to play through what many consider to be the finest adventure game of them all. I don’t really have a view on whether that label is justified just yet, as it has been about fifteen years since I last played Monkey Island 2. I remember very little of it to be honest, and am not even certain whether I’ve played through it more than once. After a lengthy break from adventure games (with the exception of the game that arguably started the whole genre), I sure am excited to get into it, but first let’s take a brief look at how it all came about.
When the bad guy gets top billing, you know things are going to get nasty.
As you would expect, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge was developed and published by LucasArts. It was the sixth game that they made using the much-loved SCUMM engine (after Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Secret of Monkey Island and Loom). The team behind The Secret of Monkey Island were so confident that that game was going to be successful that they began developing the sequel just one month after its completion. Many of the team that worked on the first game took up the same roles in the second, including the project leader and designer Ron Gilbert. He was once again joined by partners in crime Tim Schafer and David Grossman, who helped with the programming and writing. Tami Caryl and Bret Barrett also received programming credits after playing minor roles on The Secret of Monkey Island. A team of nine handled the graphics, animation and background art, with at least one member of each of the three departments having worked on the original (Steve Purcell, Sean Turner and James Alexander Dollar respectively).
I might not remember much about the game, but I do remember the ridiculous amount of disk swapping required to play it on my Amiga.
Probably the most interesting technical aspect of Monkey Island 2 is that it was the first game to utilise Michael Land’s and Peter McConnell’s iMUSE MIDI engine. iMUSE, which stands for Interactive Music Streaming Engine, is an interactive music system that synchronises the music to what’s happening in the game, and seamlessly transitions from one theme to another. It was Land that decided the system was needed after being very frustrated while composing music for The Secret of Monkey Island. To give you a practical example of how iMUSE works, there’s a section very early on in Monkey Island 2 where Guybrush goes in and out of buildings in the town of Woodtick. Land and McConnell composed a standard Woodtick theme that is heard while walking around outside, but as Guybrush walks in and out of each of the buildings, the theme seamlessly transitions to a variation of that theme (each one played by a different instrument). iMUSE was used in every LucasArts adventure game from this point onwards, and even in some non-adventure games like Star Wars: TIE Fighter.
Michael Land: Played a big role in creating a consistent and effective atmosphere in LucasArts' games.
Unlike The Secret of Monkey Island, which had EGA, VGA and a CD-ROM with higher quality music to choose from, there’s thankfully only one version of Monkey Island 2. It’s VGA, and I’ll be playing it in the SCUMMVM emulator. While loading it up to make sure I could get it working, I noticed the game has two difficulty levels, being standard Monkey Island 2 (I want it all! All the puzzles! All the work!) and Monkey 2 Lite (I’ve never played an adventure game before. I’m scared.). I love that on the back of the box it is stated that the Lite mode was included for videogame reviewers. It’s ballsy to mock the people that will rate your game, but LucasArts could get away with it. Obviously I’ll be playing the full package, and I’m not sure whether I will get a chance to play through on the easier setting. Perhaps there is someone else out there willing to find out just how much easier it is? As for me, well I will delay no longer. It’s time to resume my role as the mighty pirate, Guybrush Threepwood. Boy does it feel good to be back.
Scared!? Ha! I laugh in the face of...scary things!