I often find that having high expectations of a game leads to hindered enjoyment. What I find tends to happen is that I come up with what in my mind would be the ultimate experience, and when the game differs from that (which it inevitably does), I feel let down. That hasn’t been the case at all with Monkey Island 2 so far for the simple reason that it's pretty much impossible not to be entertained. Sure, I’m still playing through Part I of the game, but there has already been so much hilarious fun that I've literally had to drag myself away from it to write this post. Now that I’ve managed to do that, you'll have to excuse me if I cut to the chase so I can get back to playing it as soon as possible.
LucasArts were by now stealing a lot of techniques from cinema, and this opening "climax" is a perfect example.
Monkey Island 2 starts in an intriguing way. Guybrush is hanging precariously from a rope with one hand while holding onto a treasure chest with the other. The woman whose heart he captured in the first game, Elaine, suddenly descends on a rope of her own, and rather than helping him, asks Guybrush how he got into this situation. Despite the imminent danger, our hero sets out to tell her the lengthy story, which of course leads to a flashback that I as the player will take part in. It’s a brilliant way to kick things off, and particularly perfect given that there is technically no way to die in the game (yes, I’m aware that there is one way, but that’s an anomaly for humour’s sake). So what's the story? Well, it all starts on Scabb Island, which Guybrush is visiting in search of an infamous treasure named Big Whoop. Any thoughts that the protagonist might now be a renowned and respected pirate after defeating LeChuck in The Secret of Monkey Island are quickly quashed, as the two pirates around a campfire mock him while he tells his tale of victory. Having convinced himself that Big Whoop isn’t on Scabb Island, Guybrush tells the pirates that he plans to charter a ship and look elsewhere. As he stands up and walks away from the fire, control of Guybrush was handed over to me. It was now up to me to lead our hero through all the events that led to his current predicament.
And thankfully an entertaining one, or so it seems thus far.
Mockery of Guybrush's abilities and status as a pirate is a regular piece of Monkey Island humour, but it never gets old.
Alright, let's do this...
So off I went to charter a ship and get the hell off Scabb Island. The first thing I noticed was that I had an absolute crapload of treasure in my inventory, presumably as a result of my aforementioned defeat of LeChuck. I had a feeling it wasn’t going to remain in my inventory for long though, and that instinct was soon proven correct. As I attempted to cross the bridge leading to the various establishments on Scabb Island, I was accosted by a ruffian named Largo LaGrande, who demanded I pay a toll. My dialogue options ranged from “Sure. Take my money.” to “Who’s gonna make me, shorty?”. I decided right then and there that I was going to choose the most aggressive or ridiculous answers available throughout this play through, as doing so generally leads to the most humorous results. In this instance it resulted in me being hung upside down from the bridge by the obviously strong and capable pirate. I continued to insult him, which led to him respecting me and hauling my ass back up, but not before he relieved me of everything in my possession. Given that the first part of Monkey Island 2 is labelled Largo’s Embargo, it seemed obvious that this wasn’t going to be the last time I would see this brute. He threatened me a bit longer and then left, allowing me to start pixel hunting for the first time in eighteen months. The only thing on the screen that could be interacted with was a sign saying “No Trezer huntin zone”. I couldn’t help noticing that there was a shovel on the sign, and thinking it could possibly be real, I tried picking it up. Yep, it was a real shovel, and it was now mine.
Largo is not a particularly nice fellow. I can't wait to give him is comeuppance.
I may have lost all my riches, but at least now I have my very own Thrifty-Dig. A fair trade me thinks.
With the bridge now free to traverse, I walked across and into town. The first establishment that I came across belonged to a woodsmith appropriately named Woody. Looking around the room I discovered a chair, some peg legs, a barrel of nails, a hammer, a calendar of Buzzsaw Girl, a stool and a workbench. I wasn’t able to pick up any of them, at least not while Woody was present, so instead focussed on getting information out of him (I actually thought Woody was a woman from appearance, but a quick Google suggests otherwise). The only thing of interest that I got out of the conversation was that Woody also hates Largo, and that he’s frustrated that even with all his tools, he can’t create a voodoo doll of the guy. I felt this was a pretty specific thing to say, so immediately figured this would be a task that I myself will be undertaking at some point. With nothing else left to try at this point, I headed back out into town, noting the way the iMUSE system seamlessly altered the music theme as I did so.
The town of Woodtick contains only a few establishments, with Woody's carpentry shack being the first of them.
Things got fairly philosophical at one point.
The second place I visited was The Bloody Lip Bar and Grill, where an unattractive man behind the bar was in the process of cleaning his mugs by spitting green mucus into them and rubbing it with a cloth. My pixel hunting only revealed a piano, a metronome, an advertisement and a door leading off to the left. While using the metronome caused it to tick, I didn’t appear to be able to pick it up or do anything with it. Guybrush informed me that he never practiced piano, so I wasn’t able to play it, and the advertisement merely announced that someone named Jojo appears in the bar nightly. I wondered why Jojo wasn’t there right now, given that it was night time, but I let that thought go to focus on the barman. Like Woody, the man clearly wasn’t happy with Largo, as he’d got everyone so spooked that they never come in for a drink anymore. He too claimed that what was really needed was a voodoo doll of the brute, but just as he did so, Largo himself strolled in. He demanded a drink, and after taking one sip spat the most humongous green gob across the bar and onto the wall. He then made the barman hand over all the cash he had before leaving, laughing as he did. I continued my conversation, finding out that the barman wasn’t going to give me a drink unless I could show some ID, and that he couldn’t even give me a non-alcoholic drink as he’d sold his last one to someone named Courageous Captain Kate Capesize. When I asked about Kate I was told that she’s hard as nails, and that she rents out her ship to the highest bidder. After discovering that only hired help can go through the door to the left, I departed the bar to continue my exploration of the town.
The Bloody Lip Bar and Grill. Sounds like a lovely place.
I managed to capture a wonderful frame of Largo's dirty but impressive discharge sailing across the bar.
I do have to wonder why everyone is putting up with this behaviour.
The next part of town I explored belonged to Wally the cartographer. Wally was working away at a desk, and around him I found a bed, a few maps on the wall, and a pile of paper on the floor, all of which I might be able to interact with. Whenever I tried to pick up one of the maps I was told that I couldn’t reach them, so I figured I might need to stand on something. This way of thinking didn’t lead to any success though, and I didn’t seem to be able to do anything with the bed either. I was able to pick up a single piece of blank paper though, doubling my inventory total. Speaking to Wally, he claimed to have seen the whole world, and that he spends his time putting what he’s seen down on paper. Like Woody and the Barman, Largo’s influence was affecting business for Wally too. Interestingly, when I asked Wally about Big Whoop, he became extremely paranoid, asking who sent me and making sure I knew that he was heavily armed. Once I'd calmed him down, he revealed that he’d been looking for the treasure for years, and that a lot of people would like to get their hands on his files. He told me a part of the Big Whoop story that I wasn’t aware of. Apparently a vessel called Elaine (yes, I recognised that name) was shipwrecked, and only four of the crew survived. They were washed up on a deserted island called Inky Island, where they discovered something so wonderful (or horrible), that they never wanted anyone else to find it. They made a map of the island, but split it into four pieces so that each of them could carry one. With nothing left to investigate, I left Wally's for now.
Wally's establishment is actually a boat on its side, which is reflected in the interior.
Well, now there's one more buddy!
Walking further into Woodtick, I found that there were two more locations I could visit. The first one was split into two separate sections of interest. On the left I found the Men of Low Moral Fibre (Frank, Fin and Fred), a trio a pirates that ripped me off way back in The Secret of Monkey Island. They appeared to be sleeping up a ledge, and their pet rat Muenster Monster was running around below. Next to the rat was a bucket and a box, and I immediately wondered if there was anything in the box that I could take. There wasn’t, but at least I was able to pick up the bucket. I woke up the pirates, and after some awkward introductions, started questioning them on everything I could. I discovered that the rat is obsessed with cheese, that they recently attempted to go to Drinky Island to find Big Whoop but sank due to their glass bottomed boat not having any glass, and that they are now performance artists. One of them lost their leg while performing, and he gave me a piece of eight to go fetch him some polish for it over at the woodsmith’s. I was happy to have a task, even if it was of the fetch variety. I had less luck speaking to Mad Marty, the clinically deaf laundry-guy whose stall was to the right of screen. I asked him lots of questions, but since he misheard me every time, I was given answers that were far from helpful. The only thing I did garner from the conversation was that I wasn't going to be able to touch any of the clothes there unless I could provide a laundry ticket. I of course didn't have one, so moved on.
You have to admire the town of shipwrecks that is Woodtick. It's beautifully designed, with lots of character.
Not the smartest bunch these guys. They're too scared to come down too, presumably due to Largo.
It's pretty difficult to talk to someone when they misinterpret everything that you say.
The final location to check out in Woodtick was an inn to the far left of town. The first thing I noticed when I walked down the stairs was a small green creature tied to a pole with a rope. Putting my cursor over it revealed that it was an alligator. I didn’t really have anything that I could use on it (of course I tried everything anyway in true adventure game style), so I attempted to untie the rope to see what would happen. Nope, it was too securely fastened. Figuring I’d deal with it later, I turned my attention to the front desk. There was a bell and a guest registry on it, and an innkeeper behind it. When I looked at the registry, Guybrush informed me that there was only one guest in it, and it was Largo. The inkeeper then piped up with “Yeah, but that dang Largo eats like thirty.” I filed this bit of information away in case it turned out to be important, then tried playing around with the bell. I wasn’t able to pick it up or move it in any way, and using it achieved nothing apart from the expected dinging noise. When I tried talking to the innkeeper, I was surprised to find that I had no dialogue options. Guybrush simply stated that he wanted a room, to which the innkeeper replied “Sorry, we only have one and it’s full”. The only other thing left to try was entering that room, and of course the innkeeper wasn’t going to allow that: “Hold it right there! That’s a private room. No going up there.”
I really hope all of these bridges have been reinforced.
Just as well. Who the hell keeps an alligator for a pet, in an inn no less.
My first sweep of Woodtick was now complete. I’d only collected four items (a coin, a shovel, a piece of paper, and a bucket), and only really received one task (to buy some wood polish for the peg-legged pirate), but I was already gripped by the characters, humour and all-round atmosphere of Monkey Island 2. One of the things that my walkthrough technique can’t possibly convey to the reader is all the clever dialogue that has little to do with the actual plot. There are lots of hilarious little details that I’d love to mention on every screen, but I'm afraid you’ll just have to trust me. Now, it’s time to go get that polish, and then perhaps I’ll go see what awaits me outside of town.
Total time: 40 minutes