Monday 18 April 2016

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge - The Joy of Hex

This session began with me saving Captain Kate Capsize from the prison cell I’d indirectly placed her in. It was pretty easy really, as I had the key in my possession after my own incarceration. Guybrush was obviously feeling guilty about his role in her imprisonment, but Kate was so thankful for being let out that he had no chance to properly apologise. She raced off to find out who framed her, leaving Guybrush to collect her belongings. Inside the vanilla envelope (to go with the manila and gorilla envelopes) was the last bottle of near-grog that she’d purchase from The Bloody Lip bar. Was this the ingredient that I needed to make my mucus thick enough to win the spitting contest? It didn’t seem very logical, but I had to rule it out. I made my way to where the spitmaster was encouraging contestants and then tried mixing the near-grog with the green alcohol. “I don’t like to mix my drinks like that.” Well, so much for that idea. I drank some of the near-grog and then some of the alcohol, but that didn’t improve things either. By now I was beginning to realise that Monkey Island 2 doesn’t work like most other adventure games. I keep expecting one solved puzzle to create a domino effect where I gain the ability to solve another, and then another, but in reality they mostly just create new puzzles that I don’t have the means to solve yet.

Well, you know, I'm all about selfless acts and helping people in need.

So that you're never dead-ended, there is always some near-grog left. 1/2, then 1/3, then 1/4, then 1/5 etc.

So what could the near-grog be for if not the spitting contest? I took it back to the inn and tried giving it to the barman. Perhaps he would reward me for restocking him. Nope, that didn’t work. While I was there, I tried messing around with Jojo the monkey. I didn’t have any clue what I might be trying to achieve, but surely the banana would play a role in whatever it was. I could still distract Jojo with it, but he would never stop playing the piano or do anything else of note. Was there something I should do with the metronome? I tried, for absolutely no reason at all apart from ruling it out, to use the banana on the metronome, and it worked! Guybrush stuck the banana on the metronome so that it swung from side to side in front of Jojo. This of course distracted the monkey to no end, and seemed to result in him going into some sort of hypnosis. The barman wasn’t happy: “Hey, what’d you do to my piano player?” With Jojo standing statue-like before me, I wondered what good any of this did me. Surely I couldn’t just pick up the monkey. I tried it. That worked too! Guybrush picked up Jojo and stuffed him somewhere beneath his clothing. Perhaps this isn’t a particularly logical outcome, but using the banana on the metronome kind of was. If I’d given things more thought previously, I might not have had to stumble on it by accident.

Sorry, it was an accident. No really, it was!

It's always amusing watching adventure game characters stuffing huge objects into their clothes.

OK. So now I had a monkey in my inventory. What the hell could I use that for?! I started visiting locations all over the three islands, trying to discover something which a monkey might be useful for. I also tried (again) to find the Big Whoop map piece amidst all the other maps in the treehouse, to get a fish from the kitchen beneath the mansion, and to find a way to trap Stan in the coffin. I achieved nothing none of these things. While considering the coffin puzzle, I had a think about what I might use in the real world to achieve the result. A padlock might be one option, but the only one I could think of was on the crypt in the cemetery. Given I needed to lock Stan in the coffin so I could fetch the crypt key to unlock that padlock, well that wasn’t going to work. Coffins are normally nailed shut, not padlocked anyway. Could I get nails anywhere? I knew where some were. Woody had a whole barrel of them in his workshop. He had a hammer there too. Was there a way I could get them? I felt a rush of excitement. This seemed a very likely solution. I raced back to Scabb Island and tried to pick up some of the nails again: “Hey! Don’t touch those! I need all of them.” Damn. Nothing had changed, and I had no additional dialogue options that might lead to a positive outcome either. Think Tricky, think!

But I REALLY need them!? I'll pay you 100 pieces of eight for them!

I simply couldn’t think of a way that I might be able to get the hammer and nails off Woody, so I decided to once again revisit all locations on the three islands systematically looking for something, anything, that I could do. In a huge stroke of luck, I found exactly what I needed in just the second location that I visited. While visiting the Pirates of Low Moral Fibre, I got the idea that I might just be able to saw off the third pirate’s peg leg. I wasn’t really sure why I might do that, but for some reason it just seemed right. Needless to say, I was damn stoked when Guybrush actually went through with it. He then commented that he really should make himself scarce, suggesting that whatever the result would be, it would occur while he wasn’t onscreen. As soon as Guybrush departed the scene, the pirate woke up and got the shock of his life! “Aaaiiieee!!! My leg! Help! Someone get a doctor!” Even before he’d finished his overdramatic performance, I knew exactly why I’d needed to complete this dastardly act. I walked straight into the woodsmith’s workshop to find that he wasn’t there, clearly summoned to assist the once again legless pirate. There was a note confirming this belief: “Out on house call.” With Woody gone, I picked up the hammer and the nails that I needed. No guesses where I went next.

Guybrush continued his extended session of mischief and criminal acts unabated.


I raced back to Stan’s Previously Owned Coffins and asked him to demo the coffin for me again. As soon as he got in, I used the nails on it. Guybrush hammered all the nails in, ignoring Stan’s concerned cries. I was now free to pick up the crypt key, and to see if I could do anything with the bell and the cash register. Guybrush wouldn’t pick up the bell, but I had an idea when he told me the cash register was locked. I used the hammer on it to smash it open, but sadly it was empty. Feeling mildly sorry for Stan, I left to go pay the cemetery on Scabb Island a visit. I used the crypt key on the crypt lock, then entered, expecting to find the ashes of Rapp Scallion somewhere inside. There were a bunch of coffins in the crypt, each with plaques that I could read. From left to right they read “Old Bill the acrobat. He lies in her dead. He died like we buried him, propped up on his head.”, “Happiness is a warm Manatee.”, “Kiss me, I’ve got scurvy.”, “Aarrrrrrrg!”, “Violets are blue, roses are red, we’re coming aboard. Prepare to eat lead.”, and “Mouthwash? We don’t need no stinking mouthwash!”. I tried opening all of them, but received the same message each time: “I’m not opening up one of these without good reason!” Huh?! Didn’t I have reason enough?

I can't think of much worse than being stuck in a coffin, but an adventure gamer's gotta do what an adventure gamer's gotta do.

It was obvious which crypt the key would unlock.

Guybrush! I'll turn the game off! I mean it!

Feeling perplexed, I pondered how I might figure out which coffin Rapp Scallion's remains were in. My immediate thought was the library, so that's where I went. I'd not actually gained anything from the library thus far, apart from the model lighthouse lens. For the third time since arriving at Phatt Island, I methodically checked every card in the catalogue, looking for anything that might assist with any of the puzzles I currently needed to solve. I had a list of all those puzzles on a piece of paper next to me, and continued to refer to it throughout the process. When I reached the letter “D”, I found a book that could possibly help me to find where the Mad Monkey galleon sank (the antique dealer was willing to trade a piece of the map for the galleon’s figurehead). It was called “Great Shipwrecks of Our Century”, and I asked the librarian to fetch it for me. She did so, and when I read it I was ecstatic to receive the following information from Guybrush: “Says here the Mad Monkey sank at 38N, 84W.” This was a fantastic discovery, but it didn’t help me right now. I didn’t have the cash to charter a ship off Kate. I went back to the card catalogue, and had further success. Under Q for Quotations I found “Famous Pirate Quotations”. This of course was the book resting on Governor Phatt’s bed, and it made perfect sense that I would discover within it exactly who said each of the quotes that appeared on the coffins in the crypt. Now if only I could figure out how to get, or at least read, that book.

Yes!!! This must be how detectives feel when they find a really important clue.

I paid Phatt’s mansion another visit, and tried unsuccessfully to pick up or read the book. I’d not managed to achieve anything at all in his bedroom, so there was obviously something I wasn’t trying (or didn’t have). Every time I tried to interact with the book, Phatt would be disturbed and start mumbling nonsense in his sleep. Did I need to quickly replace the book with something else so that he wouldn’t notice its absence? It was a possibility. I tried to use the Big Whoop book I had in my inventory with the Famous Pirate Quotations book and fist-pumped as Guybrush did indeed switch them. I hoped that I wouldn’t need the Big Whoop book for anything later on, but then assumed I could probably just switch them again if necessary anyway. I read the quotations book, hoping desperately that my theory about the coffins was correct. I knew as soon as I read the first quote that it was. “Happiness is a warm Manatee” was a quote I’d read on one of the coffins, and it was attributed to Old Skunk-Eye. The second quote listed gave me the answer I was looking for, as “Kiss me, I’ve got scurvy” was said by no other than Rapp Scallion, one of the four map piece holders. With this knowledge, I journeyed back to Scabb Island and then out to the cemetery. As expected, I was now able to open the coffin with that quote on it, and inside was a pile of ashes. I picked it up, knowing exactly what to do with it.

Once again this puzzle was quite tricky, but solvable with a bit of thought.

Come on Mr Scallion. Let's take a little trip.

With the swamp situated right next to the cemetery, it was a matter of seconds before I was handing the ashes over to the Voodoo Lady to make me an Ashes-2-Life potion. There was only one problem. “I forgot the recipe. It’s been a long time. I don’t have that cookbook anymore.” What? Another solution leads to another puzzle! At least the answer seemed pretty obvious in this case. If a cookbook is what I needed, the library was likely the place I could find it. I did find a likely candidate too, under R for Recipes, being the humorously named The Joy of Hex: 101 Essential Voodoo Recipes. The librarian fetched it for me, and I raced back to the Voodoo Lady to see whether it was the cookbook she was after. I told her of my discovery, and she responded by asking how many crab scalps is says to use for the potion. Guybrush answered 13. “That’s just what I thought when I whipped up this experimental batch. Remember, just a dab’ll do ya.” I now had the Ashes-2-Life potion, described as an “Un-Cremating Cream in a convenient powder” on its label. Now, this is where I have an admission to make. As much as I’d love to tell you that I did the really obvious thing of going back and raising Rapp Scallion, for some reason I had it in my head that I’d picked up ALL of his ashes, and not just a small pile. I didn’t even think to go back to the cemetery, instead trying to figure out where else I might be able to use the ashes. In hindsight, it’s really damn obvious, but I had what I can only describe as an Adventure Gamer Facepalm moment.

Of course you did. Why would anything be easy?

I can just imagine how much laughter occurred in the LucasArts office when someone came up with this title.

Being the idiot that I was at this particular point in time, I made my way to the Governor’s mansion to try using Ashes-2-Life on the fish bones on the table. This makes absolutely no sense, and is a rather embarrassing admission, but the journey did result in me getting what I was after. When the potion achieved nothing, I went round the back of the mansion to have another shot at getting one of the chef’s fish. I’d not actually noticed previously that the chef follows Guybrush around while spouting insults. I wondered whether he would follow me all the way round to the front of the mansion, and soon discovered that he did! The solution the problem became obvious then. I did a full lap of the mansion, and found I could enter the kitchen and pick up a fish before he came back around. I took the fish to the wharf on Phatt Island and gave it to the fisherman there. “Wow! This is the biggest – er – it’s almost as big as the leviathan I just hauled in.” When I asked him where this leviathan was, he admitted that he was making it up, and that I’d won the wager. He gave me the fishing rod, which I knew would allow me to complete yet another puzzle. Finally I was on a roll. Join me in a few days to see how long this roll would last, how long it would take me to figure out what the Ashes-2-Life potion was really for, and finally, to witness an experienced adventure gamer coming close to losing his sanity.

I think I'd be running at this point!

Yep. I caught it fair and square too...honest!

Session Time: 1 hour 0 minutes
Total Time: 9 hours 30 minutes


  1. Part of the reason I'm not as fond of MI2 as I was of the original is that the bottom-up design is a tad too evident-- many puzzles make a lot of sense in retrospective, but not necessarily when you first meet or need to act on them. I think the puzzle with the carpenter here is a good example. Sure, you have a saw and there's a wooden peg leg exposed, so you can try sawing it off just for the heck of it (like I most likely did back when I played the game). But the unexpected result is that the pirate wakes up calling for a doctor for his peg leg, and that joke is what unlocks the carpenter's shop. It's pretty clever, but without any other hint, I'd say it's too dependent on the old "trying stuff on things" trick to make it work.

    I'm not crazy about Guybrush's misleading response in the crypt either, as you clearly have a reason to open the coffins at that point. Something along the lines of "wouldn't want to start opening coffins at random" would have worked better IMO.

    Btw, did you notice the quick reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark when Guybrush is switching the books? :-)

    1. On the other hand, the cook chase scene is one of the best puzzles in the whole game IMO because it doesn't rely on Use X On Y (more variety yay!), along with the hand code.

    2. You're absolutely right Charles. A lot of the puzzles only make sense in retrospective. I've done so many things in Monkey Island 2 without really knowing why. It just seems like something that might work. Only later does it become apparent why it was necessary, and while it often appears really clever in hindsight, I have to wonder whether it is good game design.

      I'll have to make up my mind before reaching the Final Rating post.

    3. You might want to read this interesting article to inform your opinion.

  2. Many of the Monkey Island 2 puzzles are based on "cartoon logic" - they don't make real-life sense, but work because they're funny. If I recall correctly, two of the very illogical things you've encountered can be combined in a way that makes sense only in a word-play. In fact, there might be several cases of that. I'll not give even a ROT-13 clue since I'm waiting to see your reaction when you accidentally solve the one I'm thinking about. :-)

    1. "Cartoon logic"-- yes, that's exactly it.

      If you're thinking of the same puzzle I alluded to in a previous post, I too am eagerly waiting for Trickster's reaction to it :-P

    2. I think I know now which puzzle you mean. Cartoon and word-play indeed! No wonder I solved it only by brute force back in the day.

    3. I don't mean to throw a monkey wrench into your let's-watch-Tricky-have-a-mental-breakdown party, but I too think I know which puzzle you're alluding to. ;)

    4. I'm guessing you won't go bananas over that one. Way to ruin the fun, Trick! ;-)

    5. Well done, Trick! We can discuss it when you write about it, but I can tell you that there are no monkey wrenchs in spanish, and neither in other languages as far as I know.

  3. Meanwhile... In the LITE version...

    Again, the first part of your game had you attempting to solve puzzles I didn't need to do. I had no Kate, no spitting contest, and no Jojo.

    I didn't need to saw the pirate's leg, as Woody didn't object when I took the nails and hammer the first time I entered his store. I was able to saw his leg off anyway, but it didn't achieve anything. I was being a dick just for the hell of it, rather than to help me save the world.

    And I may have found the first occasion when the LITE version actually gives me different text rather than just skipping text...

    At the cemetery, instead of pirate quotations on the coffins, I got standard comedy epitaphs like “Here Lies Old Skunk-Eye... You think he smells bad now?” and of course, “Here Lies Rapp Scallion... Courageous Sea-Cook and Reported Discoverer of Big Whoop!”

    “I was now able to open the coffin with that quote on it, and inside was a pile of ashes. Inside was ashes...”
    Inside was a pile of ashes, with a nice map piece sitting on top of them. I took the map piece, but when I tried to take the ashes Guybrush says, “Why should I bother with this guy's ash?” and if I try again, “I think I've taken all I should from this grave”

    And of course, no fisherman for me and no need for either of the books, so the rest of your playthrough was nothing like mine.

    1. All of this makes me think that I might actually be able to play through the Lite version with my six year old girl. She recently played through Mother Goose and loved it. This doesn't sound like it would be much more challenging.

    2. It's a shame to miss out on talking to Rapp though, he's a great character!

      Also without speaking to the fisherman, you miss the gag with the two pipes.

  4. Hey guys, I think this was just posted today-- I haven't even had a chance to watch it yet-- but Lori Cole spoke about her 30-year history with adventure games at GDC2016 this year.

    It looks like an awesome video and I'll need to watch the rest of it when I don't need to be working in six hours.

    1. Just watched that. Nice little summary - condensing the History of Adventure Games into a 5 minute clip.