I’m trying to figure out another way to open this review without sounding like an old git harping on about the good old days and the forgotten art of graphic adventure games – but it doesn’t seem like there’s any other way to do it. At any rate, one of the most famous and well-loved games from this golden era is LucasArts’ Monkey Island series. This series told the story of Guybrush Threepwood, a “fearsome” pirate out to prove that he has what it takes to stand tall among other buccaneers by hunting legendary treasures.
In this particular game, he’s on a quest to find the fabled treasure known as “Big Whoop”. The only problem is that, as the game starts, he’s stranded on tiny Scabb Island, having shown up looking for said treasure only to find that the island is under lockdown by a bully pirate known as Largo. Largo beats up and robs everyone he comes across, meaning that nobody has any money to leave. Before Guybrush can resume his grand adventure, he’ll have to find a way to rid the island of this pint-sized predator.
What this translates into is an old-school point-and-click adventure. Guybrush advances by talking to other characters for information and clues, finding items and solving puzzles. Figuring out what to do next is basically the only play-mechanic Monkey Island 2 has. This is really good, old-fashioned gameplay right here folks, the kind that went out of fashion when the term “replay value” entered our gaming lingo. Yes, it’s true, once you’ve played through the game, there are no more surprises in store and, unless you really enjoyed the story, there’s no real incentive to play it more than once.
To ease the transition for new players and to add value for returning fans, the graphics have been completely redrawn in glorious HD and all of the text dialogue has been voiced-over by decent voice actors. It’s very impressive, but perhaps the coolest feature of all is the ability to transition between the old game and the new HD version. With the press of a button, the player can switch instantly between the two at any time, and I mean any time. Not only is this cool for nostalgia purposes, it’s a great reminder of how far gaming has come. This is not like playing an HD version one day and then firing up the old version in ScummVM the next day – I mean this happens right before our eyes: updated version – click – original version. You really have to see it to appreciate how cool it is.
If you were ever a fan of the Monkey Island series, you simply have to own this, but the devout gamer in me says I have to recommend it to anyone who will listen, even gamers not of the era, so check it out.