Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge

1991 LucasArts Entertainment
Designed by Ron Gilbert
Reviewed 1997 June 30

Rating +3 Linearity wide, segmented
Reasonability sporadic Connectivity moderate
Difficulty difficult Relevance strong
Interface 3rd paned menu Real-time minor

This is the followup to The Secret of Monkey Island. Once again you are Guybrush Threepwood, a would-be-great pirate. You start off in search of a great treasure, the Big Whoop, but quickly run into obstacles. First you must get around Largo, a tough, mean pirate who won't let anybody sail anywhere. Then you must find the pieces of the treasure map. Finally, you must overcome LeChuck, who is once again undead and after your hide.

The story is a slapstick romp with hilarious bits scattered throughout. Several characters from the first Monkey Island return, including the ghost pirate LeChuck, and Governor Marley as Guybrush's object of desire. The plot is basically a series of quests, gathering either ingredients for voodoo spells or pieces of a treasure map.

The game stays nicely in character with the story: the challenges you must face are natural parts of the game's world. It's a good sized world, too, with much of it open in the second act. The challenges are inventory based. A few have minor real-time constraints, but these are incorporated well: they're not tests of your reflexes, and if you fail you can retry immediately (no death or lengthly replaying required). The exception is the endgame sequence, where you are bopped about to random locations: you must accomplish your tasks quickly or else you will have to wait until you reappear there again, or you must travel there from the other locations (while the clock is ticking). I found this attempt to create excitement a bit tedious.

There are several clever, original challenges, like a spitting contest and a drinking bout. These story based puzzles are among the best you'll find in any adventure. Unfortunately, there are also several silly challenges. They are almost all funny, and at least a few are clearly meant to be silly, present explicitly for the humour. There's a good mix of easy and difficult challenges.

Monkey Island is a well drawn, VGA graphics cartoon world, shown from third person perspective onto Guybrush. Control is by LucasArts' SCUMM interface: active commands are built from a small menu of verbs operating on objects or characters on screen or in the inventory. It is straight forward and effective.

The game starts off well. It takes a turn for the worse in the final act, with tedious real-time interference and slightly silly puzzles (not as bad as Discworld 1 or the King's Quests, but unlike the other LucasArts games). To top it off, there is a horrible, disappointing final plot twist, a hackneyed old cliché. Don't let these faults dissuade you: the game is constantly funny, and it contains some of the best bits of adventuring you'll find anywhere. It's not necessary, but I recommend playing The Secret of Monkey Island first, since several characters carry over from that game.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.

Related reviews:

  • Secret of Monkey Island
  • Curse of Monkey Island
    David Tanguay's Game Reviews
    Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.