Monkey Island 2 - An Alternate Perspective

Written by Paul Goodhead

August 10, 2010 | 10:48

Tags: #frustration #monkey-island #point-and-click

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.
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