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Monkey Island 2 - An Alternate Perspective

Posted on 10th Aug 2010 at 10:48 by Paul Goodhead with 19 comments

Paul Goodhead
Over the course of the last week or so I’ve been trying to play Monkey Island 2: Special Edition. I say trying because frankly I’ve been finding it pretty hard going. I’m not even sure whether what I’ve been doing even constitutes playing; maybe my first sentence would be better re-worded slightly.

Over the course of the last week or so I’ve been swearing continuously at Monkey Island 2: Special Edition.

I should have known that I’d find it tough though. I’m not a massive point and click fan (though I did play through the Broken Sword games when I was younger), but I was intrigued to see if the game could live up to the misty-eyed, nostalgia-tinged, high praise a number of my friends have given it over the years.

This was probably my first mistake as everyone seems to remember games from their childhood fondly, either because they involve some of their first memories of gaming, or simply because they had more free time in which to enjoy games as a kid. I suspect that when it comes to Monkey Island 2 it’s the latter - as it takes absolutely ages to do anything in the game, something I found progressively more frustrating as time went on.

One of the reasons for this is the sheer amount of time you end up watching the lethargic Threepwood dawdle around the screen. There's no quick travel screen, which means that even when you think you know what you need and where to find it, acting on such a hunch becomes such a drawn out affair that any sense of excitement is slowly bled out of the task. I’d list the 30 odd steps and screens that make up the journey from the voodoo hut to the library and back but I’m not sure I’ve got the room.

Monkey Island 2 - An Alternate Perspective Monkey Island 2 - An alternate perspective
<insert multiple expletives here>

Conversations can also become a chore, as there is no way to skip dialogue as far as I can see (Press the Full Stop key to end any current line, both mouse buttons at once to end a convo --Joe). This is a particular frustration when you’ve already heard what the characters have to say, such as in the gambling alley where the same lines are repeated every time you spin the gambling wheel. I wasn’t a massive fan of the voice acting either, I’m almost certain that the comically over-acted and over-accented vocal style is intentional, but that doesn’t stop it grating after an hour of play.

Monkey Island 2 can also be absurdly difficult at times too, as the game seems to draw its logic from some strange parallel world where a paralysed monkey is an effective substitute for a workman’s tool. Aha ha, a monkey wrench, I get it, now can I get back the two hours I spent working out your demented reasoning? Ok, I’m not practiced at these sorts of games, I’ll admit that freely, but on occasions I got the feeling some of the puzzles were purposely obtuse just to stretch out the gameplay.

My experience wasn’t helped by the fact I was only informed of the hint button after about five hours of play. In my defence though the hint button isn’t actually listed in the controls menu, no, the presence of the mythical hint function is only revealed in the ‘How to Play’ tutorial.

I’d actually like to see an honest show of hands regarding how many people are likely to sit through a ‘How to Play’ tutorial for a point and click adventure game, especially a point and click adventure game you’ve probably played before. I mean seriously, WTFBBQ.

Obviously, I’m not providing a balanced argument here; I’m failing to mention many of the games redeeming features such as the lush graphic style and the genuinely illumining creator’s commentary but I can’t help but be frustrated by the games foibles.

I’m sure it’s great played in a group or if you’ve got infinite time on your hands, and let us know in the forums if this is how you played it, but for me it was an exercise in frustration.

19 Comments

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Jamie 10th August 2010, 12:00 Quote
I played through it on my holiday (iPhone version) and I did find that even the hints didn't help me when my brain stopped working; texting Joe turned out to be a better hints system.
CardJoe 10th August 2010, 12:00 Quote
You're fired, Paul.
Kris 10th August 2010, 12:10 Quote
Paul, be vewy vewy careful - Joe is hunting wabbits

(wabbit = Monkey island hater)
Xir 10th August 2010, 12:17 Quote
He who plays like a man and skips the "tutorial" shall not whine like a girl about missing things in the tutorial :D
I'm amazed they even included a tutorial, most games lack one these days.
chopstyx 10th August 2010, 12:40 Quote
I loved playing my way through Monkey Island 1 and 2 on the Amiga back in the day so I was delighted when I heard that the first one was being re-released with hi-def graphics and voice acting.

I bought it on launch day, and boy was I sorely disappointed. The new graphics seemed to muddy things up rather than make things clearer. Of course it was nice having hand-painted cartoons compared to pixelated sprites, but oncethe wow-factor wore off I found myself continually switching back to the old style graphics just to see what the hell was going on! It seemed a lot easier to spot pick-up-able items that way.

And the voice-acting! That damn voice-acting. None of the characters, perhaps Guybrush aside, sounded like I had imagined them. Okay, my fault perhaps, and I know they used some actors from MI 3 & 4, but some of the actign was just terrible. The cannibals all sounded boring and dull with a daft accent. The previously imagined fast-talking salesman Stan was reduced to a slow drone, and LeChuck had no menace whatsoever.

So when Monkey Island 2 came out I decided to give it a miss. I think I'd rather get the original version and play through that again.
Meanmotion 10th August 2010, 12:44 Quote
I must admit I'm feeling somewhat the same about the first game that I'm playing through on my iPhone. I think I "get it" now but the completely random string of things you have to do in the first few momenta of the game had me reaching for a walkthrough very quickly. Certainly a more progressive introduction of the game logic would've helped. Time will tell.
SteveU 10th August 2010, 13:48 Quote
Lol, you need to get into the 'Lucasarts mindset' when you sit down to play one of these games.

You also need to remember that these games are from a time when kids probably only got 1 new game every few months so they needed to last! With the advent of 'casual gamers', point and clickers are somewhat lost in todays Market of 'throwaway' games that only last 5 mins.
Fizzban 10th August 2010, 15:14 Quote
Usually the most frustration comes not from the thinking-out-of-the-box quests, but from missing an item somewhere in the game and having to search every area again until you find it.

I remember as a child getting hugely frustrated with the game at times. But the humour and sense of achievement when you worked out a puzzle, kept me coming back to it. And remember. Back then there was no hints system, and getting a walkthrough was also a pain as you had to wait for a computer mag to print one or release a cheats floppy disc with some tips on it. And that's usually all it was..tips for puzzles people had written in about. Not an entire walkthrough.
SteveU 10th August 2010, 15:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fizzban
Usually the most frustration comes not from the thinking-out-of-the-box quests, but from missing an item somewhere in the game and having to search every area again until you find it.

I remember as a child getting hugely frustrated with the game at times. But the humour and sense of achievement when you worked out a puzzle, kept me coming back to it. And remember. Back then there was no hints system, and getting a walkthrough was also a pain as you had to wait for a computer mag to print one or release a cheats floppy disc with some tips on it. And that's usually all it was..tips for puzzles people had written in about. Not an entire walkthrough.

CVG wasn't it?
Fizzban 10th August 2010, 19:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveU
CVG wasn't it?

Was one of them I think. Along with Amiga Action and Amiga Format.
thehippoz 10th August 2010, 21:37 Quote
forget which key it was.. but you can go back to the old graphics and see what it was like originally

you had to use your imagination in the original (unlike the remake!)
CardJoe 10th August 2010, 22:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehippoz
forget which key it was.. but you can go back to the old graphics and see what it was like originally

F1
Jamie 11th August 2010, 10:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by chopstyx
Of course it was nice having hand-painted cartoons compared to pixelated sprites, but oncethe wow-factor wore off I found myself continually switching back to the old style graphics just to see what the hell was going on! It seemed a lot easier to spot pick-up-able items that way.

There is a key that highlights areas of interest on the screen.
Orderoftheflame 11th August 2010, 18:25 Quote
Sounds like your not cut out mentally for an adventure game tbh.

Small attention span, inability to think outside the box, can't work out controls?

Sounds like something with guns and explosions would be more up your alley.
robots 11th August 2010, 21:19 Quote
Yes it's crap, and so was the first remake. People who rave about it are not really looking at it objectively. They are just enjoying reliving their youth through a game. In terms of an actual game, it's terrible. Not everything ages perfectly. It was a great game at the time, but it's not anymore. It's just so dull, so un-interactive, so shallow and basic.

The article is right when it mentions rose tinted memories, and also the fact that kids have more free time than you do as an adult. But there are other things that have changed a LOT too in addition to those two things. For example, there wasn't the competition that there is today. Monkey Island was cutting edge at the time in terms of... everything. Today with fancy stuff like WoW and Arma 2 and Supreme Commander 2 and whatever else, some point and click ho ho ho adventure is pretty worthless in comparison. WoW, whether you like it or not (and I don't), is still an amazing experience when you think about it. Thousands of REAL people all playing together in real life, but in a virtual world, with virtual characters so they can be whatever they want and play for years and years etc.. These old games just can't even come close to competing to stuff like that.

Then there is the fact that humour ages. Monty Python was AMAZING at the time. Today, it still has it's moments of genius and hilarity, but it's really not stimulating my funny bone much because comedy has moved on so far and improved so much. There's also the fact that as a kid, you laugh at stupid jokes, and as an adult... you don't. There's also the fact that way back in 1990, gaming and gamers had a completely different personality and philosophy to gaming. People tended to get a game and try to beat it no matter what. Games were really hard and were designed to put up a major challenge for people to 'beat'. That's just not the same anymore. Games today are all about being accommodating and instantly gratifying the gamer. Whether it's GTA or Dragon Age or whatever else, there is no real challenge. You are presented with goals to achieve, and you go and achieve them, and get presented with more. That's it. Games are just a series of things to do, and you just do them and hopefully enjoy it in the process. Whereas in the past, games were providing obstacles and you had to struggle to find solutions and succeed. So we as gamers were in a different mindset back then. It was expected to get some obscure tedious challenges, if anything, people liked it because it prolonged their play time of the game. Today, people just can't be arsed with stuff like that, and I don't really blame them.

Not that I'm saying the modern way is best and the old way was terrible, I think the best way is somewhere in the middle, which sadly we rarely see in games today. But still, both extremes are just as bad as each other.
Xir 12th August 2010, 11:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by robots
It's just so dull, so un-interactive, so shallow and basic.
in other words, it's a point'n'click adventure, and not an RPG/RTS :D

But yes, people don't expect to need patience to finish a game. But that's what walkthroughs are for, right?
It gets too difficult, repetitive? Lookylooky, on you go.
(not that that wouldn't be what we did back then...or ask other players (in real life though)...or read mags)
The hardcore guys can go without ;)
mrbens 13th August 2010, 17:20 Quote
I always used to get bored and use walkthroughs. The 'puzzles' in stuff like this and the Broken Swords & Discworlds & Simon the Sorcerer were never logical to me but I liked the stories so didn't mind bypassing the frustrating use this on this to do this nonsense!
BentAnat 16th August 2010, 12:13 Quote
i personally (haing played 3 Monkey Islands before the SE's, as well as Full throttle, Toonstruck and the Broken Sowrd series) enjoy the LucasArts headspace tremendously. I enjoyed the whole "Hey... monkey wrench" thing for the silly humour that it was.
[USRF]Obiwan 17th August 2010, 13:14 Quote
Monkey was a fun but legend of Kyrandia (with voice acting back then) was awesome. Boy Westwood was in a waaaay higher state then LucasArts back then. Those who remember, Space quest series was da bomb which included midi sound (if you had a Atari).
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