Monkey Island 2 Special Edition

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

After last year’s 1 SE release, Juiceous Maximus has returned! LA continued on to Monkey Island™ 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge™, the maybe best adventure game of all times. Especially if you played it as your first computer game as a little kid and it burned itself into your mind. :P

But if a woodchuck could chuck and would chuck some amount of wood, what amount of wood would a woodchuck chuck?

Like 2 is a better game than 1 was (though 1 is good, but really less great), 2 is (so very fitting) also the better SE of both. Audio can be listened to in old and new graphics now, LA reacted to customers wishes (that alone is commendable). Though I didn’t miss audio voices in classic mode (original had no audio voices either), many people apparently did. And since it can be freely turned on and off, no one has reason to be negative about it. But the best enhancement would have to be the commentary with Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer (they wrote his name wrong in the Special Edition Credits with 2 f) and Dave Grossman. Since I believe, that the creative minds behind those titles are next to never in the limelight they actually deserve, there could have been no better feature for me. The positive additions are concluded with artworks (those are unlocked by simply playing the game) from both original MI2 and the SE. Particularly the art really can’t be praised enough, it scintillates in the creative process and the implementation (even as a hardcore fan of the original, I rarely had the need to switch to the original game/graphics – that was different in 1 SE). Thus (creator commentary + artwork) the game gets a little flair of being a museum about itself, which an SE is in the best case.

A woodchuck should chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood, as long as a woodchuck would chuck wood.

The graphics are next to perfect and leave hardly anything left to be desired. Next to the fantastic art, I noticed how everything is moving (right at the start the grass at the campfire moves to the wind) and leaves static surroundings behind for more organic environments. Visits to trusty locations like The Bloody Lip Bar and Grill ensure a permanent adrenaline high.
As most current Steam games, MI2 SE has achievements, I got all except the one for finishing the game in under 3 hours (Duh) and the one for using less than 5 highlightings. I didn’t know and therefore pressed it 5 times just for playing with the feature.

LAME-O COPY PROTECTION (both screens from 1991 Monkey Island 2)

But 2 SE is not as exactly cloned from the original as 1 SE was. Several differences are present right at the beginning.

CHECK ONE (from 1991 Monkey Island 2)

For one, the game doesn’t feature a “light” adventure mode anymore (the original let the player choose easy and “hard”, where several puzzles didn’t appear in easy mode), which is no problem for me, because I wouldn’t have played it anyway.

Original Opening Credits (from 1991 Monkey Island 2)

The next “loss” however, was very surprising to me – MI2 featured a quite extensive intro (right after Guybrush starts to tell Elaine his story, while still hanging on the rope), with dancing apes and Guybrush chasing them a little, while all the names are rolling and many map pieces (one at a time) are visible on all sides of the screen. After that, the game switched to Scabb Island and finally to the campfire. The SE switches from the ropes directly to the island (where pirates are now perfectly whistling the MI theme music, which is totally kick-ass!) – cutting out the entire (former) opening credits.

(from 1991 Monkey Island 2)

Who removes dancing apes?!? In MONKEY Island?!? I’m also almost sure, that I saw the redesigned apes in one of the many promo videos. Therefore I really would like to know what happened!
Because I would never play Monkey Island in another mode, I enabled subtitles in addition to audio and noticed a little bug, where the subtitles can vanish, when the commentary is activated during a conversation. They only reappear, after the room is entered anew.

It’s like the pinnacle of humor. An untopable moment.

I’m not sure if it was the best way to implement the commentary with a function, that almost reminds of quick time events (QTE). It’s also not possible to listen to it again later, without replaying the specific scenes (I saved frequently). The Captain Dread commentary, for example, gets aborted, when trying to activate it again on the ship – the scene is too short for it and the game doesn’t wait for it to finish.
I also would have hoped for much more of it (listening to every piece of it should have been an achievement :P).
While moving through the beautiful, shiny new HD graphics, small distinctions become apparent. The cheese squigglies pot (The Swamp Rot Inn in Woodtick) stays full after taking it, where the original correctly shows an empty vessel.
Also, didn’t the original island maps have question marks at all unvisited locations, until the player explored them?
Using look at, Guybrush says “nice” to almost all non-essential objects. I could have sworn, that the 1991 version was more versatile – but I’m not entirely sure.
What’s strange, is that the costume shop on Booty Island has Max (from Sam & Max) replaced with Purple Tentacle. At first I thought it might be because Telltale is doing the S&M games these days, but looking closely reveals, that Sam is still there behind Purple Tentacle (Max is even gone from the artwork of the shop – hard to say if it was “cleaned” or if he was never on the original artwork to begin with).
Not every graphical change is bad though, in Phatt’s mansion one of the portrays now features the likeness of Grim Fandango! :)

//Update 2010/08/02

The first patch to this SE restores the opening credits, but ONLY in the classic part. Which seems strange to me, is that the intro even has voice audio! So did they bring the voice actor back just for this line, or was it originally recorded and unused until now? Pressing F1 at any point during the opening scene (to switch to the new HD graphics) skips the credits in their entirety and bumps the player directly to the view of Scabb Island. So it’s a one way ticket and to see the classic credits at all, it’s necessary to press F1 right when the game starts/before Guybrush finishes his talk with Elaine.

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  1. Mel

    There is another difference. In Booty Island, when looking down the cliff to retrieve the map, there used to be a pan of the cliff… now the “loading” image of guybrush appears.

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