Friday, 25 March 2016

Game 70: Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge (1991) - Introduction

Written by The Trickster


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!

41 comments:

  1. I'm timezone bound to be the first to say - welcome back, Trick! (Even if only on a guest basis.)

    In the remaster of recent years, the developer's commentary about the iMuse system was the first inkling I'd ever had of its existence. Why? Because it's so damned seamless and perfect that unless you're expecting it, it literally doesn't even register that it has happened unless you're a /gigantic/ audiophile.

    This is a fantastic game. You've not told us to bet and all - but I'm going to start off with a nice round 80. Gur "Ovt Jubbc" raqvat wnef dhvgr n srj crbcyr naq zvtug frr vg snyy haqre gur bevtvany.

    ReplyDelete
  2. In my old Amiga days before everybody had hard drives, you could sometimges hear the music lag/hang a bit when loading the next piece, so when I think of iMuse, seamless is not the first word that comes to mind. But it still works great.

    As for the lite mode, it cuts some puzzles and shortens others, so basically what the box says. For example, jura punfvat bar bs gur znc cvrprf va yvgr zbqr, lbh pna whfg tb cvpx vg hc bss gur tebhaq nsgre vg trgf guebja bhg gur jvaqbj, ohg va shyy zbqr, lbh'yy unir gb punfr vg nyy bire Fpnoo Vfynaq jura vg trgf pnhtug va gur jvaq.

    I have really high hopes for this game. If this doesn't take the lead, I don't know what will. 85

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 's/sometimges/sometimes/'

      Also, welcome back, Trickster!

      Delete
  3. Welcome back, Trickster! What good memories this game brings back. I will say 84 because, because... it must be higher than Monkey 1!

    Looking at the pictures in the post and this being one of the few games that I still keep in the original box and 3 1/2 floppies, I'd like to suggest that all of us who still keep it to take some pictures of it and send it to the admins to publish them. Let's see how many different versions can we gather! I have the spanish version.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had the Amiga version but don't know if I can find the disks - I likely threw them out last time I moved, with pretty much all my Amiga stuff :(

      I still have the Monkey Island Madness CD though, so I'll play along but play the Lite version, which I've never played before.

      And I'll guess the PISSED score will be slightly less than the first one, simply because I personally don't think it's as good (but it's still great) - 77!!!

      Delete
    2. The Lite mode was made not directly playable in the CD version (unless you're a hack and use ScummVM), but there is a way to access it in DOSBox. Activate the game's debug mode by doing the following:

      type "monkeyspit" (without the quotes)
      press Ctrl+D
      press Ctrl+L
      type 10001 (and enter)

      And now the game has restarted in Lite mode!

      The Monkey Island Madness CD is the version I have too BTW. I never knew of the existence of Lite mode until reading about it on the Internet.

      Delete
    3. Great info Laukku. Thanks.

      I would have been disappointed if I installed and didn't see the Lite Mode option.

      Delete
  4. It'll score slightly higher than Monkey Island 1. 83!

    ReplyDelete
  5. 86 for the score, because it's my favourite lucasarts adventure.

    ReplyDelete
  6. 84 for the score.

    And welcome back, Trickster! As one of the folks here keeping your seat warm, I have to say that it is nice having you back in the driver's seat. I hope you will come back often as your other blogging project allows.

    Ilmari also briefly played Adventure on this blog, but I STILL have not read his post so I don't know if he won it or not. I am avoiding spoilers on this game in the desperate hope that someday I can beat it unaided. I really suspect not at this point. You can read his take here: http://advgamer.blogspot.com/2014/12/missed-classic-2-adventure-1977.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. Welcome back Trick! I'm going with 87 for the score because it's the best adventure game ever (maybe with Day of the Tentacle but that's only my humble point of view) and I bet that it will still be in top spot when we'll log in TAG in 2037 :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Tough to guess a rating. It beats the original in some areas, but there are parts that are worse as well. Maybe it'll end up evening out? 82.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm going to low-ball this one a bit because—and I shouldn't even say this in public—when I replayed MI2 a couple of years ago, I...didn't...think...it was the best adventure game ever made. I enjoyed 1 and (pitchforks at the ready!) 3 waaaaay more.

    THEREFORE: 78.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no. Is now the time I should admit that I might like 3 more as well?

      My name is TBD and I like Curse of Monkey Island!

      Delete
    2. Curse is well-made with high production values but the plot is kinda derivative of Secret. (But it's nowhere as bad as Star Wars VII vs. IV in that regard.) I like the tone and story of Revenge the most - and the high interactivity of the music!

      Delete
    3. The dread pirate Murray would like to disagree with you, Laukku.

      Delete
    4. Oh yeah, I forgot. Murray is one of the funniest characters ever created. :-D All first three Monkey Island are such good games, it's difficult to decide which one is better! Escape and Tales are not terrible either but have some flaws (Escape especially).

      Delete
    5. I like Curse better as well and when I played it the most I could recite most of the lines, Murry being a favourite. The bad thing though was the final chapters which felt rushed, but I guess I should talk more about the current game.

      I will say MI2 probably is the hardest of the three due to some languish issues (at least for me, maybe i should even point them out when we get there) so I will go with an 81. Played it recently too, but the remake on PS3 and I can say, the biggest problem with that version is the controls. It clear this is a computer game and not a console game.

      Delete
    6. I loved 3 as well but for some reason the (although beautiful) comic-style graphics never connected with me as well as the pixel-art of MI2... But I agree Murray rulez.

      Delete
    7. I didn't like Curse that much, but Murray definitely deserves its place among the funniest characters in videogame history.

      Delete
    8. I can't remember much about Curse either, but I do recall not loving the change in visual style. I'm sure if I played it now I'd find it much easier to accept.

      Delete
  10. Welcome back Trickster! I don't know if the game is the best adventure game ever, but it certainly comes close, so I'll guess 90!

    ReplyDelete
  11. 80. I liked the first MI slightly better.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Somewhat of a plug, but because Day of the Tentacle Remastered was released recently, I decided to upload a video of its intro and some gameplay with my own custom MIDI soundfont: https://youtu.be/dIVdBZjCV90

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a nice surprise to see you reviewing MI2 Trick.
    I'll take 81 as I also liked the first MI a tad better. And like Aperama, if we hadn't been exposed to the "iMuse(tm) system designed by..." notice prominently displayed on the opening credits of every LucasArts game since, I wouldn't had noticed it. It just meshed seamlessly with the overall gaming experience, which speaks very highly of it, I guess!

    And Michael Land is great. Check out his Morricone-esque score for Outlaws if you haven't. Wonderful stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops, Outlaws was scored by the appropriately named Clint Bajakian, not Michael Land. Oh well, worth checking out anyway! :-P

      Delete
  14. Fitting Lucasarts game on sale on Steam.

    Grim Fandango Remastered $3.74!

    http://store.steampowered.com/app/316790/?snr=1_620_4_1400_46_1

    ReplyDelete
  15. 79! Welcome back Trickster!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'll guess 81, although I don't know much about the game.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you to everyone that welcomed me back into The Adventure Gamer fold. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Welcome back Trickster! I was pleasantly surprised when I saw "Written by The Trickster" on my feed.

    I'm going to vote for 89.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I vote 88, because nobody else did already

    ReplyDelete
  20. I think it won´t score higher than 80.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Trickster, it's great to have you reviewing another game here! Welcome back!

    I'm going to say 78 for this one. I honestly got bored with this game at a certain point and just didn't care to brute force a certain puzzle. Shame, because up until that point I was having a blast. Maybe I'll play along.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I haven't started playing yet, but just wanted to point out that whoever is responsible for naming the game gets my eternal ire.

    My Steam game list has this game starting with S but the first game starting with M (Steam ignores the "The" when sorting.)And if the other games were released on Steam we'd have them under "C", "E", and "T".

    It's as if 1991 Lucasarts didn't know that in the future games would be released in Digital format and would be sorted alphabetically. Way to NOT predict the future, Lucasarts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. >And if the other games were released on Steam we'd have them under "C", "E", and "T".

      Tales *is* released on Steam.

      Delete
    2. Good point.

      And you made me realise I also made another mistake...

      >My Steam game list has this game starting with S but the first game starting with M

      I got this the wrong way around. THIS game starts with M and the FIRST game starts with S.

      Double Alphabet Fail!

      Delete
  23. http://mojodb.com/features/hacking-the-monkey-island-2-demo/

    Old article from 2003, but it was recently posted at mixnmojo.com.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I love little tidbits like this.

      Delete