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Whether you love them or hate them, you have to admit adventure games are awesome. Especially the LucasArts variety. During the IBM 286/386/486 days, there was nothing quite like the crazy antics those folks threw at us, and one of the best games to come out of that period was Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. Picking up a few years after the original, the second game in the now long-standing Monkey Island series surpassed its predecessor in just about everything - humor, creativity, you name it. And now it has been re-released as a Special Edition with remastered graphics.
[image1]As with most legends, the treasure of Big Whoop is once again up for grabs. Similarly to the original game's remake from last year, LucasArts has redrawn all of the models and environments, and recorded brand new voiced dialogue, all the while adding a few bonus features that ought to please long-time series fans.
LeChuck's Revenge was a much more complex game than the original Monkey Island back in the day, not only in the graphical department, but also in its puzzles. This remake takes that into account, along with what made the previous remake a little unwieldy, making it a much better remake, even though it still has a few kinks. Remake.
Series purists will notice some of the omissions right off the bat. Some of these are for the better, like the lack of 'easy mode', which frankly was a little useless back then and even more now thanks to the built-in hint system and item highlighting. Other changes, though, are less agreeable. The musical intro from the original version of Monkey Island 2 is gone. It's not like you can't watch it on the internet, but it would've been amusing to see it reworked along with the entirety of the game.
Still, the added content more than makes up for the parts that were cut. At specific parts of the game, you can hear three of the development heads - Dave Grossman, Ron Gilbert, and Tim Schafer - chime in on the game's production process. Not all of their comments are directly related to the specific events you might be playing at the moment in the game, but they are incredibly interesting. Some are just plain anecdotes of work days in the studio that are entertaining thanks to their humorous chemistry together. In fact, it's pretty astounding how LucasArts managed to lock up the three of them in a room to record the hour or so of commentary.
[image2]In another odd change, the developers continue to replace the tried-and-true point-and-click gameplay from the Monkey Island games. Directly controlling Captain Threepwood around simply does not work right, but there is an option wheel sort of point-and-click control scheme that works fine.
Like the original Monkey Island's remake, there's a verb list for each object or person you can interact with. If you decide to switch back to the original version with VGA graphics, the long verb list remains intact. The remake cuts some of those options out, which helps eliminate options, particularly during sticky situations.
Another worthwhile improvement comes in the audio department. Along with the beautifully reworked art, the music has also been re-recorded and sounds incredible, as does the mostly top-notch voice acting. Unlike Monkey Island 1's remake, you get the option to mash up the old graphics with the new voice acting if you so desire, solving one of the chief complaints from purists for the original's Special Edition.
Retaining all of the charm of the original version is a very tough task when it comes to remakes. Happily, Monkey Island 2 Special Edition's makes it through the process brilliantly. It's just as funny and entertaining as its older self, if not more, with new music, awesome voice-acting, and great bonus features.