Having descended to the depths of Davy Jones's locker with remake keys in hand, LucasArts has succeeded in recovering one of the greatest adventure games of our time.
A masterful remake made possible by a faithful commitment to the original and careful attendance to the expectations of today's gamer, Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge satisfies nostalgia while at the same time approaching a new audience of pocket gamers with streamlined controls and fancy features.
Make no mistake, this is the new benchmark for adventure gaming.
High adventure you have to see
Plucky pirate wannabe Guybrush Threepwood has earned little glory following his victory over the evil LeChuck, instead finding himself on another quirky adventure.
It starts off innocently enough on Scabb Island, where Threepwood butts heads with LeChuck's former right hand man Largo LeGrande. What begins as an effort to leave the tightly controlled island evolves into a larger quest that tests Threepwood's wits and will.
The hilarious dialogue and bizarre scenarios are sure to test the fortitude of your abdominal muscles. More than anything, Monkey Island 2 succeeds as a result of its sharp writing and clever design. Whether it's chatting to a hard-of-hearing pirate who runs a laundry station or visiting a cemetery to dig up bones needed for a voodoo doll, you can't help but look forward to each kooky situation.
Of course, this lighthearted spirit complements the modified point-and-click gameplay. A new interface does away with tedious cursor movement and word fumbling (although, you're welcome to revert to the classic version of the game at any time by swiping the screen with two fingers), offering a more streamlined approach.
All fingers on deck
Moving Guybrush requires nothing more than a tap, as does examining objects and talking with characters. Other actions such as opening or closing objects, using items, and picking up goods are performed by selecting the appropriate action button along the bottom of the screen and then tapping the item in question.
It's a straightforward system, though not as intuitive as the interfaces employed in other adventure games. Rather than tapping on an item and being shown all available actions to be taken with it, you're forced to figure it out manually by selecting actions from the bottom of the screen and then testing them on the object.
To be fair, the revised interface is in line with the original version's text-based menu, which is legitimate even if it isn't the best setup.
New captain at the helm
Great care has been taken to ensure that this remake retains the spirit of the original release and the mindful redesign of the interface is just one example of this. The ability to switch to the classic version on-the-fly, the gorgeous painterly graphics that remain in line with the bright colouring of the original, and the re-recorded voice acting all show the exquisite craftsmanship in this remastering.
New features only support the game's claim to the crown. Monkey Island 2 possesses one of the best hint systems of any game in the genre. Pressing three fingers to the screen prompts a hint without the need to hit up a separate menu or depart from the game. Holding a pair of digits to the screen helps to highlight hot spots.
There's also developer audio commentary tracks and bonus artwork galleries that unlock as you meet characters and visit new locations. These features are absent from the iPhone and iPod touch version, which only affirms iPad as the choice for the discerning fan.
Irrespective of the device on which you play Monkey Island 2 Special Edition, you're in for treat. Adventure gaming doesn't get any better than this.