Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge


Review by · September 30, 2001

It’s usually hard to find a single sentence that can represent a game perfectly. There are some close calls of course, such as Metal Gear’s famous, “The truck have started to move,” but those aren’t very common and there’s usually something else worth mentioning too. However, Monkey Island: Le Chuck’s Revenge can easily be compacted into the following line of dialogue spoken by pirate wannabe Guybrush Threepwood:

“I stole a bunch of stuff and caused two huge explosions.”

Obviously, with a summary like that, this game is a quality piece of work that you all should try to find. In fact, the rest of this review past that point is nearly worthless, but I’m feeling generous tonight. Here’s my review.

After the greatest upset ever in beverage-based undead Caribbean combat history, Guybrush Threepwood was on top of the world. He had unimaginable wealth, the beautiful pirate governess Elaine Marley, and the respect of thugs across the seven seas. Sadly, his life soon took the path of country music and his love left him, his money dried up, and his respect from others vanished after publishing countless cheesy autobiographies. However, Guybrush’s tale was far from over.

After gathering what remained of his vast, vast fortune and growing a goatee, our hero set off for Scabb Island in search of information on an ancient treasure known as Big Whoop. The mission would be dangerous, the risks would be high, and the odds were stacked against him, but it was his only hope if he wanted to ever truly be a pirate. And thus began the greatest crime spree in the history of the Northern Hemisphere…

Monkey Island: Le Chuck’s Revenge is best described as an expansion to the Secret of Monkey Island. Nearly every aspect of it seems to be ripped directly at first glance, but beneath that surface you find that each area has been carefully improved upon in nearly imperceptible ways.

For starters, we have gameplay. This is the second (and also last) title in the series using the ever-popular SCUMM engine, and as such, you use your collection of verbs such as Pick Up, Push, Pull, or Talk To to interact with your environment and solve bizarre puzzles. You still have to collect items and use them in unlikely ways to get around, but there’s something… different this time.

Maybe his goatee has gotten to his brain, but Guybrush is downright evil now. Gone are the days of childish pranks and petty thievery. Now he steals, lies, pillages, destroys, breaks, explodes, and nearly kills anyone who gets in his way, all to further his own twisted plans. Still, the puzzles are quite a bit more complex and interesting so, evil aside, it’s an improvement.

Other changes here include a difficulty setting (Monkey Island or Monkey Island Lite) and the loss of the sword fighting mini game. The lack of swashbuckling is a real loss, but the difficulty setting allows you to bypass some harder obstacles without that much trouble.

The 2D, heavily pixilated graphical setup from the first also remains, and it’s not that easy to tell the two apart for a while. However, there has been a slight improvement in quality, as well as the addition of countless new animations. Guybrush can now smile at the screen, chug a mug o’ grog, or scream loudly in torment (usually in that order), not to mention a huge selection of others that give the game a slightly cartoonish feel. Also, our hero no longer looks like a cabin boy. That’s definitely something to be thankful for.

The close-up scenes still remain, nearly untouched save for a higher frame rate that allows actual motion in them. It’s still pretty choppy, but it beats nothing. However, they seem a lot less noticeable and not as imaginative as they used to be. I doubt it would be easy to smuggle the head of the Navigator in again, but that’s beside the point. The graphics are better for the most part, so let’s leave it at that.

The music got tampered with more than any other section, but not that badly. First off, the technology is much better now so the quality is obviously less primitive. While this is good, the style’s been made a bit more general now instead of the Caribbean feel we had before. To make up for this, they’ve added a bunch of remakes to help out as well as some wonderful new tunes, including what must be the greatest rendition of that “The Knee Bone’s Connected to the Random Other Bone” song ever. A tough trade, but not bad.

As for the sound effects, these still stink just as badly as they used to. Vague blips and beeps can be found in greater abundance now, but they still are hard to identify and none too great. It’s mostly just filler, but the music is good enough on its own.

The storyline in every game in this series relies mainly on the wonderful/eccentric dialogue between your character and all the other people you come across, and MI2 is no exception. There are now more than twice as many people to chat with than last time, plus numerous inside jokes and running gags to find. It’s more of what you loved from the first time around, only more polished and well done. Of course, we still have the main plot to discuss.

Consistency was not high on the LucasArts list of priorities. Your arch nemesis starts out as Largo, a brutish little thug who dislikes you tremendously, but then he disappears for the rest of the game, only returning in the occasional cut scene. For the first 50% of your experience, this isn’t really noticeable and you’re enjoying yourself so much you don’t care.

By the third quarter, things begin to unravel and you begin scratching your head, wondering exactly what is going on. Once you reach that last stretch, everything falls apart into a completely Python-esque bunch of silliness, only to reform itself into the most confusing and unexpected ending I’ve ever seen. The story is good, but like so much else, it’s different.

Finally, we have controls. There are no changes whatsoever here. We have the same convenient mouse-based action and the same keyboard saving system. It’s definitely been handled right. Good work developers.

This is what any sequel should be. It’s got a continuation of the original plot while strengthening the finer points of gameplay and tinkering just enough to be creative. While it’s definitely a great game, it’s ironic that there were only three or so monkeys actually appearing, which makes me wonder about the title. Anyway, good riddance as far as I’m concerned.

Damn dirty apes…

Overall Score 91
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Andrew DeMario

Andrew DeMario

Andrew went by several names here, starting as a reader reviewer under the name Dancin' Homer. Later known as Slime until we switched to real names, Andrew officially joined RPGFan as a staff reviewer in 2001 and wrote reviews until 2009. Andrew's focus on retro RPGs and games most others were unwilling to subject themselves to were his specialty.