Monkey Island 2 Spec Ed Review On

Leather like a cow I've ever seen.

Are you interested in what you should be thinking about the new Monkey Island 2 Special Edition? Fortunately I’m here to tell you – what a spot of good news. My review for PC Gamer has made its way onto the Jaunty RPS Tribute Site, over here. I say:

“By jove, they’ve got it! Last year saw LucasArts remake the original Secret of Monkey Island with gorgeous new graphics and fantastic voice acting. And then, through some arcane form of voodoo, they managed to make it maddeningly irritating to play. A crazed muddle of menus, inputs and berserk design decisions spoiled a game that was never as good as people remembered it being. Forget all of that – Monkey Island 2: Special Edition has fixed absolutely everything, and was a far better game to begin with.”


  1. Freudian Trip says:

    I was waiting for a Walker re-visit of this title. I saw the PCG one but there was no byline so I was waiting for the RPS one.

  2. Risingson says:

    There are two things about these remakes that disturb me. First: unfortunately, they lose the wonderful atmosphere of the originals, and what the iMuse system achieved in MI2 is one of those things that made you keep playing the game despite the really difficult puzzles. Second… like it happened with the star wars restoration, I don’t see the need. I didn’t get the need of watching a b/w movie in colour, or in 5.1 instead of mono. I mean, these things have their context, and it’s mandatory for you, as a player, to understand their context…

    Shit, I hate myself. As I was writing this I remembered that this week I’ve tried to play old rpgs and I couldn’t stand any of them because of the interface and graphics (Bard’s Tale, Wasteland, Dragon Wars…). So point invalidated by me.

    Move along.

    • Ragnar says:

      I started to play the old SSI goldbox game Pool of Radiance the other day. Wonderful stuff and although the interface is irritating, it is not nearly as irritating as I remembered.

      Also, I see no need to play (or buy) this remake. Fancier graphics doesn’t make the game become better. It would be much more interesting with a completely new game with the same setting and story.

    • Xercies says:

      I like these remakes for just giving the originals in an easy place to get. i mean its almost impossible to find the Lucasarts games now…so please please do this for Day of The tentacle i’ve been wanting to play that game for ages and i just can’t find it.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      The great thing about Special Editions like this is that the originals are preserved on our (mostly) fully backwards compatible PCs. I would be a lot more of the opinion they shouldn’t mess with these games if, like say the Star Wars movies, the originals were hard to play on modern systems.

      ScummVM preserves Monkey Island 2 the way it was meant to be played… Monkey Island 2 SE gives you a new flavor.

    • Dean says:

      Yes, yes, and no

      Do you have a flat-panel monitor?

      The original Monkey Island games (and most old, lower-res games) look significantly *worse* today than they did when they came out, as these fancy new hi-def screens that we all have show up just how bad the graphics were. But the graphics were that bad because they were designed for CRT monitors or TVs which had a certain built in smoothing effect. Consoles have it even worse: just try plugging your PS1 in to a flat screen HD TV and playing something in 3D. Eugh.

      Likewise, we now have more than two buttons on our mouses. And the storage space so we can fully voice games if we want to (given that Lucas Arts were one of the first companies to embrace CD storage and voice acting, there’s an argument that they always wanted it this way).

      Also there have been less tangible but equally important, huge leaps in interface design since then. To the point that the old interfaces just feel crippling.

      The advances are too much, and modern technology just increases the gap. Black and white movies are still fine to watch. But who still watches silent movies? Who reads the Bible on stone tablets? Listens to audio on cassette tape?

      Certain retro elements are charming and don’t lose that. Others do. In such a young field as computer games, stuff gets outdated real fast.

    • Lilliput King says:

      There’s also the voice acting to consider.

      I estimate it makes the game at least 60% better.

    • Shagittarius says:

      “There’s also the voice acting to consider.

      I estimate it makes the game at least 60% better.”

      I’m not sure about that. I think the game is way funnier with the delivery I had in my head. The actors don’t deliver the lines as well as I imagined them.

      But then, I’m a reader…;P

    • Vinraith says:

      IMO voice acting has never made a game better, but frequently makes them worse (either by being awful or, even more often, by fundamentally limiting the design).

      Like Shagittarius though, I’m a reader.

    • Tom says:


      Grim Fandango?

    • postx says:

      Usually voice acting disturbs my gaming experience. I rarely find good voice actors in game, but it must be the reason why I’m a picky movie aficionado:P If it is hard to get a good voice actor then I’d prefer a game like Mount&Blade with no voices at all. Sometimes less is better.

      @Risingson Totally agree, I like the oldies as they are, but when I try to revisit them… Frankly it’s hard. My eyes hurt. I gave up on Dark Sun: Shattered Lands but Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers was worth the hassle, the dialogue is good, interesting atmosphere too.

      @Dean I would love to see the old games on a CRT moniter. (BTW I watch silent films:D)

    • Risingson says:

      That’s because adventure games reached maturity quite soon in the 90’s (Monkey Island itself is from 1990, isn’t it?), but RPGs were not that user friendly in a whole. Yes, Eye of the Beholder 2 is still wonderfully playable, but most of the others depended on backtracking, unconfortable interfaces, and just design decisions made to be mean to the player. Even Ultima 7, played under Exult, is unconfortable and clumpsy, as greatly written as it is.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      Actually, I watch silent movies sometimes. I don’t know, why shouldn’t I? Buster Keaton films for example could be not only entertaining or funny but also quite educational. And I know some other people watch’em too, Uncle Torrent said so.

  3. Wulf says:

    I have only a couple of complaints, really.

    The new art is brilliant for the locations, but horrible for the characters, they look like plasticine more often than not, or wax figures, which just doesn’t work for me. Especially Largo’s appearance, whose chin looks… not like a chin. So I play it in classic mode, with the voices. That’s great! Except there’s a small problem there, too. The iMuse system breaks, quite often, it’s really buggy.

    If they can release a patch to fix whatever they did with the iMuse system in classic mode (I originally thought they hadn’t implemented it at all originally because the transitions just didn’t work like they did in both the original DOS version and the ScummVM version, both of which have the fully working iMuse system, of course), so that iMuse works fully and without issue, then it’ll be perfect for me.

  4. Robin says:

    No mention of the changes and omissions?

    • Nallen says:

      Would this be the midi music and the fucking pre-game credit screen or whatever inconsequential rubbish it was I read about before?

    • Wulf says:

      The ‘midi music’ as you put it is in the PC version. It’s just… not entirely functional, they flummoxed the implementation quite a bit, so it’s rather buggy, it is there, just a mess.

      And the intro is a thing of beauty, but one can watch that on YouTube anyway.

    • YogSo says:

      @Nallen: I will just C&P my comment from the older thread:

      — Oh yeah, who needs this intro sequence anyway? It has nothing to do with the plot or the story, so it’s better to release THE ORIGINAL VERSION without it. Next time someone should do a remastered edition of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and remove those obnoxious intro titles that only get in the way of the ‘proper’ movie…

      It must be truly amazing to be able to say whatever you want on the Internetz even if you have no idea about what you are talking…/rolleyes —

      Oh, by the way: they have patched that “fucking pre-game credit screen or whatever inconsequential rubbish” back. But of course, wise men learn form their mistakes and correct them.

    • Shagittarius says:

      It’s pretty sad that the younger generations have no interest or respect for presentation when it comes to games. They are so gung-ho that its all about “the game” they just want to play it and sell it back if they can.

      It makes me sad. Listen, theres more to enjoying something than just the meat of the experience; sniff the scent , let it play across your tounge, appreciate it’s nuances before you throw it on the bed and rape it. Some day your going to wish you had physical copies, manuals, credit sequences etc…and realize what you’ve lost.

      p.s. Get off my lawn.

    • Robin says:

      @Nallen: Well, actually it would be all the ways in which this ‘special edition’ is objectively less functional than the original game: the missing intro, outro, and easy mode, the incongruous COMI-style redesigned characters (which are mentioned), the tatty sound rendering in classic mode, the lack of a dialogue skip button and the inexplicable changes to the script. The redrawn backgrounds fall apart at any resolution higher than the iPhone’s as well, cartoonishly chunky with soft, insipid colours.

    • Dean says:

      You skip dialogue with the period key don’t you? Just like in the original.

      Am sure it worked for me last night.

  5. Glenn says:

    I for one really enjoyed this remake. I had never played the original ones because I first played “Curse of Monkey Island” which had a good interface to use and the first two just weren’t to my liking and never kept my interest, this however, kept me interested the whole game.

  6. Elyas says:

    I want the scenery art for my changing desktop background.

    And I’m glad for the remakes. It introduces these golden oldies to a newer generation who’d have probably never even heard of it before.

  7. DrGonzo says:

    Well I’m enjoying the game, but I still think Guybrush looks wrong and sounds wrong.

  8. Taillefer says:

    This seems like an appropriate time to link to this for those who haven’t seen it yet (and for those who have to see it again):

    Old School Colour Cycling.
    Quote: “However, there was one graphic artist who took the technique to a whole new level, and produced absolutely breathtaking color cycling scenes. Mark J. Ferrari, who also illustrated all the original backgrounds for LucasArts Loom, and some for The Secret of Monkey Island, invented his own unique ways of using color cycling for envrironmental effects that you really have to see to believe. These include rain, snow, ocean waves, moving fog, clouds, smoke, waterfalls, streams, lakes, and more…”

    Check out the examples, they’re beautiful.

    • stahlwerk says:

      that is very beautiful, thank you for sharing!

      I remember toying around with colour cycling in Deluxe Paint 2, which supported dedicating parts of the 256 color palette to the cycle.. but I don’t remember what I actually did with it. I guess I just put worms on Tut-Ankh-Wots-His face, creatively challenged kid that I was.

      And now I feel old (but awesome).

    • Scandalon says:

      Much coolness for that link, thank you. (And yea, I remember playing with color cycling in Deluxe Paint as well…)

    • stahlwerk says:

      oh wow, I just remembered one thing I did: a radar screen, you know like one of those rotating lines from old-school ATCs and I added blips that would appear when the line went past it. What can I say, I was a huge FS3 nerd.

  9. Sunjammer says:

    I still think the ending to Monkey 2, as in everything after LeChuck’s fortress, is absolute shit. I love the game to bits right up until the escape. Then it’s like a pack of complete jerks made the rest of the game.
    I still get heartbroken thinking about how disappointed i was back when i first completed it.

    Regardless, it’s worth it for the other 70% of the game. It’s a fantastic remake.

  10. somnolentsurfer says:

    I must finish playing through this. It’s a shame, though, that the artist who repainted the scenes seems to have done so without reference to the script. I’ve noticed several jokes that don’t make sense in the new version already, and I’ve only just finished The Largo Embargo.

  11. Joshua Rodman says:

    Buh, Monkey Island 1 was the better game. I enjoyed it more at the time, and I enjoyed it more on replay recently. The special editions look much worse to me. Bah humbug.

  12. RvL says:

    I’m sorry, I stopped reading when I saw “…never as good as people remembered it being,” then gave it another chance until “…and was a far better game to begin with.”


    • Boldoran says:

      Not sure if you are asking “what?” because you could not make sense of it or because you disagree.
      If it’s the first then this should help:

      Mokey Island 1 was never as good as people remembered it “.
      Monkey Island 2 and was a far better game to begin with.”

      Emphasisze mine.

  13. Hippo says:

    I had a good time with this remake. Monkey 2 was never as good as Monkey 1 (far too many dumb and unfair puzzles), but on the other hand, LucasArts did a much better job on the remake itself this time.

  14. Rikard Peterson says:

    Apparently, the update has been updated: link to

  15. geldonyetich says:

    Alright, no go back to the first Monkey Island remake and patch out the wrong of it. ;)

  16. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    Well, I thoroughly enjoyed this special edition. Unlike the first, they seem to have done a pretty detailed job this time around, barring a few missteps, notably the omission of the title credits—more importantly, the wonderful title theme. Thanks to the improved graphics, the game looked as richly detailed as I remembered it, something the “classic” mode fails to do anymore: my old eyes catch on the edges of the pixels, and it’s quite now painful on a 27″ screen.

    I loved it.

    I also played it on the iPad, where this time around Lucasarts have introduced a sensible control scheme. Tap anywhere to walk there, or take the default action on an item. Drag your finger across the screen to identify hotspots. And all the verb icons are in a single line across the bottom, easily accessible yet unobtrusive.