Point and click games are something of a lost art. Oh sure people still make them but these are mostly relegated to European developers who make some pretty obtuse games with the genre. But back in the heyday of the venerable Amiga, when PC gaming was first taking off these types of games were huge. We're talking huge like only games like Halo can possibly understand nowadays. Series like King's Quest, Space Quest and, of course, Monkey Island were big enough hits to essentially fund companies like Lucasarts game division or Sierra Entertainment.
Last year we were blessed to get a complete remake of the first game, The Secret of Monkey Island. Complete with all of the jokes that made the original such a laugh, including the revered stump joke and even the references to Loom, it was the definitive version of the game. There were a few issues with the game but they were easily overlooked which made it one of the easy downloadable purchases of the year.
In the first game our hero Guybrush Threepwood, he of the constantly mocked name, had managed to defeat the evil ghost pirate LeChuck through a combination of dumb luck and root beer. Picking up from shortly after the end of the first game, Monkey Island 2 sees Guybrush in pursuit of the great mythical treasure, The Big Whoop. Through a twist of fate LeChuck is brought back from the dead... again, chasing Guybrush as he pursues the lost treasure.
Of course all of this is told in about as wild and zany a manner as the game can muster while still being a coherent adventure. You will gather up ingredients for a voodoo doll, hypnotize a piano playing monkey by sticking a banana on a metronome and watch the ghosts of your dead parents turn into skeletons and dance a jaunty little jig. Not only does that happen but it has to be one of the most bizarre things that this reviewer has ever seen in his life.
This is also one of the hardest point and click games that this reviewer has dealt with due to the absurd logic that the game follows. Some of the old King's Quest games were harder overall but those were often due to things the player could never know without calling the help lines or consulting the then non-existent internet. In the Monkey Island games the things you need to do are never impossible to figure out through trial and error it's just that their logic is so insanely over the top that you stand no chance of figuring it out without literally clicking on every single thing in the game.
All of this looks twice as good thanks to the graphical overhaul that has been given to the game. Everything has a hand-drawn, painted look to it that makes the screenshots look almost like a painting. The main drawback to the graphics is that when people move it looks like they're sliding around on the floor. But this has more to do with the fact that the updated game is laid over the old SCUMM engine, restricting the game to using the same animations as the older game. It still looks good but not quite as awesome as the screenshots might make it seem.
This is an easy sacrifice to make to have the variety of options that you have in the game. Want to play the brand spanking new game without voices? You've got it. Want to play with the old graphics but with voiced dialogue? Yep, that's possible now. Were you one of ten people who liked the controls in Escape From Monkey Island? Well those are available now as well. The manual controls are pretty garbage but it's there if you like it. They've even tightened the heck out of the previous remakes' controls making them far more enjoyable to use.
As a head nod to the fact that the internet now exists and pay per minute phone lines are a thing of the past, the developers have gone out of their way to make the game more accessible. If you hold down a button you can get a hint as to what you need to do next. If that's not enough there's even an option to highlight all of the things on screen you can interact with, making the game even easier to play. For those playing on a console you will get achievements / trophies for not using these aides but it's fairly easy to beat it on a second pass without needing any of these tips.
Honestly the two Monkey Island remakes are some of the best downloadable games on the market right now. If you have the patience to deal with the absurd puzzles or don't mind looking up tips to get through the puzzles then this game is a must own. You really have to either hate point and click games with the burning passion of a thousand suns or not like dealing with downloadable games to dislike this title. The price point might be a bit much as you're paying $10 for what amounts to two and a half hours of game extended by how obtuse the puzzles are so that's something to keep in mind when looking to purchase this title.