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.

Part I: The Largo Embargo

The main truncated puzzle in this section is the 'Finding Something of the Thread' puzzle. There were many puzzles that Trickster solved parts of in this section, but the puzzles are actually from Part II, so I'll ignore them for now.

Finding Something of the Thread

To solve this puzzle, Trickster had to get the bucket from the laundry area, fill it with mud from the swamp, close the door to Largo's room, balance the bucket on top of the door, hide behind the dressing screen, go to the laundry to watch a scene, go back to Largo's room, close the door to get the laundry ticket and return to the laundry area to get Largo's clothes.

To solve the same puzzle in the LITE version, I found Largo's clean clothes sitting on his bed the first time I entered his room, so I took them – puzzle solved!

Finding Captain Dread's 'Eye of the Navigator'

A simple puzzle for Trickster, he just had to take Wally's monocle during the short period of time he put it down to rub his eyes, then think to give the monocle to Captain Dread in place of his Navigator's eye.

That puzzle simply didn't exist in the LITE version. Dread let me use his ship as soon as Largo was dealt with so when I took Wally's monocle, it was just because I'm heartless.

Part II – Four Map Pieces

Part II is the bulk of the game, and certainly the bulk of the missing/simplified puzzles. This entire section was a cakewalk for me but caused Tricky a few problems.

Let's examine our puzzle solutions.

Antique Dealer's Map Piece

Trickster had to get an ID from the Phatt Island Library, use it to buy multiple flavors of grog at the Booty Island bar, combine the grog to form a green spit-thickening solution, distract the spit contest judge by buying a horn from the antique dealer at Booty Island and blowing it at the deaf man to get him to shoot the cannon, move the flags while the judge is distracted, time his spit with the wind so he could win the contest (or randomly choosing the right time without realising why :) ), sell the spit contest award to the antique dealer, use the money to hire Kate Capsize's tour boat, read the correct book in the Phatt City Library, go to the correct location, swim down and get the figurehead, work out how to return to the surface, then swap the figurehead with the map piece at the antique dealer. PHEW!

Rather than tell you what I had to go through to solve the same puzzle, I've made a gif of me going through all the steps needed to solve it in the LITE version. Enjoy...

The moment you realise that the LITE version just removes large parts of the game

Rapp Scallion's Map Piece

Trickster needed to buy the saw from the antique dealer, saw off the pirate's leg, get the hammer and nails from the Woodsmith's shop while he was gone, go to Stan's Coffin Shop, ask him to demonstrate the coffin, nail him in, get the key from his shop while he's locked in, find out that the coffins in the crypts have quotations on them, go to the library to find a book of pirate quotations, go to Phatt's mansion when you find out he has the book, swap his book with another, go back to the crypts, open the correct coffin, note that the coffin contains only ashes, take the ashes to the voodoo lady, find the correct cookbook to help her (from the library), go back to her, take the potion she made back to the crypt, revive and talk to Rapp, take his key, go to the Weenie Hut, turn off the gas, go back to Rapp and finally get the map piece he gives him.

The LITE version of this puzzle gave me something to do this time – but not much. I could take the hammer and nails from the Woodsmith without making him leave first so got them in my first exploration of Scabb Island - then I could lock Stan into the coffin the first time I saw him and take his key. I could then go to the crypts and instead of quotations requiring me to find a book, found simple epitaphs. The coffin I needed was clearly the one labelled “Here Lies Rapp Scallion... Courageous Sea-Cook and Reported Discoverer of Big Whoop!”. Instead of having to revive Rapp, the map was sitting on top of the ashes as soon as I opened the coffin.

The first example of jokes you can only see if you play the LITE version (not the game's best jokes, but jokes nonetheless)

Phatt Island Map Piece

Trickster had to find the banana, use it on the metronome to distract the monkey, take the monkey, use it on the pump above the waterfall, get the oar from the Governor's mansion, break the oar in a tree to see a dream sequence...

I sadly saw none of this dream sequence

… get woody to repair the broken oar, climb to the treehouse and take the telescope, use it on the monkey statue outside the cottage, be challenged to a drinking fight, get Kate arrested, take her near-grog, win the drinking contest, place the mirror and move the brick to see the trapdoor, go down the trapdoor and finally get the map piece.

For me and the LITE version, we skipped almost all of the puzzles here. The waterfall was dry from the start (skipping everyone's 'favourite' puzzle), no tree house, there was nobody in the cottage, and the trapdoor was available as soon as we entered without needing a telescope, near-grog or a mirror.

Governor Marley's Map Piece

This map piece at least had us solving some puzzles. Trickster got completely flummoxed at one point so let's see how he solved it...

He had to go to the gambling alley, work out the trick to winning in the adjacent alley, use that information to win the gambling game, take his new invitation to the costume shop and go to the party, get the map, get captured, watch Elaine throw the map out a window, try to get the map from the ground just outside the mansion only to have it fly out of reach, agree to a fishing contest, annoy the governor's chef, trick the chef into following him while sneaking into the kitchen and stealing a fish, use the fish to win the fishing contest, use the rod to get the ma... damn... watch a seagull steal the map and take it to the treehouse, ask for assistance :) , get the dog, take the dog to the treehouse, and finally use the dog to find the right map

I won every game of gambling without trying and the second alley didn't exist in the LITE version, so I never had the opportunity to learn the 'trick', I took the invitation to the costume shop and went to the party, got the map, got captured, watched Elaine throw the map out a window, tried to get the map from the ground outside the mansion and succeeded! Puzzle solved!

Wally's New Monocle

With all the map pieces, I didn't need to find the model lighthouse lens to give to Wally so he could see, as I could just give him back his monocle - or not take it in the first place, but where would the fun be in that?

Part III: LeChuck's Fortress

Getting the key

Trickster had to cleverly use the song he'd heard his parents' skeletons sing in the dream sequence to work out where to go in Le Chuck's Fortress (actually he stumbled into the answer through dumb luck, but don't tell anyone.)

In the LITE version, you just move to the next room automatically without having to solve that particular puzzle.

Escaping the trap

In the full version, Trickster had to cleverly use his spitting and aiming skills to blow out the candle, stopping the trap and saving Guybrush and Wally from a vat of acid.

In the LITE version, Wally asked to go to the bathroom after LeChuck made his evil guy speech, and then, instead of spitting (I didn't have the necessary drink or straw) I spoke to Wally. I asked him if he had any bright ideas and he replied that he had one, but it was embarrassing and I had to close my eyes. I did so and we somehow escaped. Wally's next comment gave me a clue as to how he'd put out the candle.

Did Wally also richochet off the shield and the pan before hitting the candle?

Part IV: Dinky Island

Getting to the treasure

This was a short sequence in both the regular and LITE version, with the LITE version being unsurprisingly shorter.
In the regular version you get a single cracker from the barrel and must make cracker mix by cutting a bag with a glass bottle that had been broken with a crowbar (or rock) then mixing in some seawater that you'd distilled. 

In the LITE version, there were three crackers in the barrel so you get all three clues at once on the beach and can get yourself straight to the X.

Under Dinky Island

This sequence was exactly the same, which surprised me. Perhaps the developers figured that if you'd gotten this far you weren't seeing the ending without solving the full puzzles in the endgame. Or perhaps they ran out of time.

Lite mode: Success or Failure?

This is purely subjective but in my opinion...

Failure (or, to be less absolute, admirable effort but not the best implementation)

It's a nice idea, but you just miss too much with the LITE mode. Some parts I remembered fondly from the first time I played the game were the spitting contest, the weird tree dream sequence and Rapp Scallion's reanimation. I saw none of those sequences this time, and I don't think removing some of your most memorable sequences is the best way to show off your game to newcomers.

It clearly wasn't expected to be a significant enhancement. That they made it easier by cutting entire scenes and locations and removing puzzles rather than giving alternate solutions, and that I only found two instances of extra content (the grave epitaphs and Wally snuffing out the candle in the dark) suggests to me that it's something they thought they'd try putting in at the last minute.

Then again, if you asked me in 1991 if the LITE mode would be a great way to introduce novice adventurers or children to the world of Monkey Island (or adventure games in general) I'd have said yes, with the recommendation that if you enjoy it you should play again with the full version, not for the difficulty, but for the scenes that you miss.

If you asked me the same question now I'd recommend the Special Editions of this and The Secret of Monkey Island, where the Hint system has been introduced for just that purpose, and you don't lose any puzzles or scenes in the process.

Lucasarts would revisit the LITE version idea again in the third game of the series, Curse of Monkey Island, which has the standard version and the harder (i.e. only version most adventure game players played) MEGA-MONKEY version. We'll see how the non-mega-monkey version fares when we get to that game in a few years time.

Well, that's the end of this short interlude. Next time we'll bring you back to your scheduled conclusion with the Final Rating.


  1. I can't believe they cut the dream sequence! It's just brilliant. It would be like cutting insult swordfighting from the first game, or another singing sequence from the third.

    I do like the idea of the LITE version though, but as well as cutting the puzzles it just cuts too many jokes. Although back in the early nineties, you'd replay games quite often so perhaps it helped people get through it once, then they'd replay the proper one.

  2. Gotta agree with your thoughts at the end that many scenes that I myself enjoyed are cut in lite mode, but somehow I still wished kid me had access to that mode instead of the frustrating "stuck forever" mode I was in. Not only that, but as a kid trying to.... ehem, "find the solution", I would somehow google up (or whatever one did in the late 90's or early 2000's) the lite mode solutions making my head hurt since the puzzles wasn't there in the FAQ. So basically, Lite mode made it harder to finish the game for me. Or that's just a cheaters reward.

  3. Did anyone else catch the classic adventure game reference in the new Epic Rap Battle posted today? George R. R. Martin vs J. R. R. Tolken.

    1. Oh yeah, Martin was playing Zork at one point.


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