Written by  :  Mumm-Ra (410)
Written on  :  Mar 08, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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The sequel to one of the best adventure games ever is also one of the best adventure games ever.

The Good

Monkey Island 2, the sequel to the highly acclaimed Secret Of Monkey Island, is also a great, great, great game. It tells the story of Guybrush Threepwood, a would-be pirate in search of Big Whoop, a truly legendary treasure, which is so secretly hidden nobody even knows what it consists of. The ghost pirate LeChuck, the bad guy which Guybrush killed in the first episode, is also back and seeks revenge. It is a fantastic tale whose elements could have populated the mind of some of the greatest writers in History, but, instead of writing a book, somebody decided to write a game script. And, somehow, it turned out to be a comedy graphic adventure with a great, although very strange, storyline.

The characters are really elaborated and have their own unique personality. The plot is amazing, really nice, and deserved a book or a movie (would have been a blockbuster). The whole tale is told in a humorous way and silly jokes and situations are frequent.

While most adventures games, even having a good plot, fail to get the attention of the player, Monkey Island is really involving and has a great ambience. Maybe because of the harmony between graphics, sound, controls and the idea. And also because the game doesn't take itself too seriously.

The interface is very nice, and makes the game very easy and comfortable to play. In other words, gameplay is fabulous! Thanks to Lucas Arts SCUMM system (which was, in those times, much better than Sierra OnLine system), the game is much nicer to play than many adventure games released after ten years.

The puzzles are not obvious as they are in many adventures. They are very well elaborated and some are very funny. Don't expect Monkey Island to be a logic game. The challenges may be silly, but they are very clever and sometimes require lots of thinking. The quality of the puzzles became a Monkey Island (and also a Lucas Arts) trademark.

The graphics were very good for a 1991 game. Of course there are no videos or 3D panoramas, but the 256-color VGA graphics (320x200 resolution) are still not only OK, but also involving. The hand-drawn backgrounds brought new standards to adventure games and the sprites (=moving objects) were as detailed as the low resolution could allow.

Music is fantastic. Well, at least for a game. In fact, the Monkey Island tune could have easily been the soundtrack to the Monkey Island movie. It really feels like something written by John Williams and, if not a true classic, at least a nice tune which fits the game and is easily recognizable. The sound quality is OK. Don't expect to hear Guybrush's voice and any elaborated sound effects. They are simple, but effective.

The Bad

There are indeed so many good things about this game the bad things get sort of offuscated or even forgiven.

The main problem: the years came and passed and Monkey Island 2 is dated. The graphics and sound are not impressive anymore and there are better interfaces. Technology evoluted and Monkey Island 2 deserved a re-make (Sierra is re-making the King's Quest series, why not a Monkey Island re-make?).

Well, yes, there are other problems. Problems which were born with the game. It is not short, but could have been longer. It is so nice to play people would beg for more (and the third episode only came six years later, so they had to wait a lot!).

And the end of the game seems to be the main point here. It is strange and does not seem to fit. It may be disappointing. I am not going to tell the end of the story here to spoil the fun. Some people even created theories to explain it. I'll just say that it makes sense thinking as the end of Monkey Island 2 as an isolated game and one could easily imagine what Big Whoop is. But it is strange to think of it in the context of the series. It doesn't reveal the secret of Monkey Island (and doesn't even mention it). Monkey Island 3 brought a different explanation for the game, but not very convincing.

The Bottom Line

TRUE CLASSIC. Monkey Island 2 is one of the best sequels ever and retains all the magic of the first game. And it is one of the reasons people say games were much better ten years ago.