Friday, July 16, 2010

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge on PC

I have been familiar with Monkey Island games since Ben and I met in college. Secret of Monkey Island was the one game, besides Mr. Driller (love!) that I remember watching him play and thinking maybe it's ok that he plays video games. I had never encountered a game that made me laugh (later I had a similar experience with Sam and Max games). I never felt particularly inclined to play Monkey Island, myself, but he would often play PC games on his laptop in bed or at his dorm room desk and I would overhear the plot and it would make me laugh. When I'd look over to see the game, I'd find it to look cute, too. A cute, funny pirate adventure story with voodoo and treasure and romance and humor? That can't be bad! Going into this assignment I was at least excited to actually pay attention to the story rather than simply overhear it in the background while trying to get through my college History of the Novel assignment, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. I have now played Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, the sequel to The Secret of Monkey Island, for two hours and am 26% of the way through the game. With those two hours of game play under my belt, I'd like to offer up a few alternative subtitles to Lucasarts, the developers behind this witty and whimsical game title:

Monkey Island 2: Would Play More If It Weren't Installed On Hubby's Computer

Monkey Island 2: Talk About Stuff, Talk To Stuff, Pick Up Stuff Then Use Stuff On Stuff

Monkey Island 2: Puzzles are like WHA?!?

Monkey Island 2: Makes Me A Cheater Cheater Pumpkin Eater

I haven't played a computer game that wasn't Bejeweled since my days on elementary school computers playing Number Munchers and Oregon Trail. OK, that's not true...I just remember my shortlived World of Warcraft experience....well, anyways....those four games pretty much sum up my experience with computer gaming. There's something a lot more geeky about playing games on the computer than on a console. Is that true or is that a strange prejudice? Why do I have that impression? Is it because most popular computer game titles end in the word “craft” and feature shaman and elves while popular console games tend to feature sports cars and boobs? In any case, I felt a little extra geeky going to the PC to play Monkey Island, though I felt like I had to kick Ben off his computer in order to play, which helped me stall a bit, since he is almost always sitting there when he's not at work. Now that he has an extra large desk next to his extra large television set with his extra large PS3, he is at his extra comfortable computer chair extra much these days. (By the way, those dang consoles get bigger and bigger and then the next version they put out they make “slim.” What's up with that? Just make the console slim to begin with, people! This original PS3 is so tall it's blocking the remote control sensor!) He says he's not, but he is. I mean, sure, he says hello when he walks in the door. He gets up to come eat dinner. Just kidding. It's not that bad, but I am very familiar with the squish sound the computer chair makes when it is sat upon.

I felt a little self-conscious sitting at his computer. Our computers are sort of sacred personal spaces....probably the only truly private zones in the house besides the bathroom when the door is closed....and I felt like I was impinging on his Man Cave as I played a game on his computer in his comfy office chair. Now I play with Jhonen during the day while Ben's at work. Jhonen sits in the secondary, much-less-comfortable office chair usually reserved for me while I sit in the captain's chair. Jhonen says, “Monkey I-Yand, Monkey I-Yand” and then points out the game's trees and clouds to me as I play.

Ben's first piece of advice to me regarding Monkey Island: 2 (MI:2) was to investigate everything, talk to everyone, and remember everything you see and everything they say. Wise words. That is pretty much all there is to do in the game. There is no possibility of death. There is no fear in this game but the fear of getting stuck. Basically, you just click on every item you come across, be it a ball of string, a pile of blank papers or a one-eyed cartographer. If you can pick the item up, do it. If you can ask a question, you ask it. Every cheese squiggle, alligator, and box may (and most likely, WILL) be useful to you as your character, Guybrush Threepwood, strives to find the treasure, Big Whoop, reunite with his love, Elaine, and put an end to the evil LeChuck once and for all.

(This video is a little sample of what the game's like. Go find someone to talk to. Ask whatever questions you want to ask them. Listen to their responses and try to figure out what you're supposed to do next. Important items are labeled for you, like the coffin you use as a boat to travel across the swamp).

Playing MI:2 is much like spending a weekend with my mother. She is Guybrush Threepwood. She walks around my house exactly like I have to make Guybrush Threepwood walk around the swamp or the inn or Mad Marty's Laundry Stand. First, she'll walk into our house and notice everything that has changed since the last time she was here. She remembers everything.

“That rug was there before, wasn't it? Why'd you move it?”
“I don't know. I just like it better here.”
“Oh. I guess I do, too. It helps brighten up this dark corner a bit. Have you ever tried it in that corner?”
“Just wondering. Is that a new picture?”

She picks up stacks of pictures and rifles through them, stopping periodically to ask me about where I was in that shot or why Jhonen is making a certain facial expression in another, She reads my grocery list on the kitchen white board and asks me about my menu plan for the week. She peruses my bookshelves, picking up a book here or there to ask if she can borrow it or to read the synopsis. One might call her behavior nosiness. She proudly refers to her behavior as curiosity. In Monkey Island: 2, this behavior is completely necessary.

You absolutely must ask every single possible question and scour every inch of every surface of every ship and beach and swamp, pick up everything you can possibly pick up, and use your items on other items you cannot ever hope to progress. Guybrush Threepwood is plopped on this island with nothing but his witty dialogue and your ability to figure out what he's supposed to do. And I thought A Boy and his Blob's puzzles were tricky. Wait. Is this Mission Impossible: 2 or Monkey Island: 2?

Don't believe me? You think I'm dumb? Here is an example of what Guybrush Threepwood had to do to get a little extra money so he can charter a boat to get off the island (excerpt taken from someone's game walk-through on

Go to the swamp and enter the voodoo hut. Get the string beside the skull on the small table. Now leave. Go to the beach and pick up the stick laying on the ground. Go back to Woodtick and head to the Inn. Look at Pegbiter's bowl and then pick up the Cheese Squiggles. Now, head to Mad Marty's. Walk up to the box and open it. Now use the stick with the box, then use the string with the stick. Use the Cheese Squiggles in the box and walk a short distance away. If you're far enough away, the rat will go to the box and nibble on the Squiggles. Deftly pull the string and the rat will be captured. Now open the box and pick up the rat. Head into the bar kitchen and plop the rat into the pot. Now, go out through the window and enter the bar proper. Ask about the stew, and Bernard will soon get fired and you get a job.


Wow. This raises puzzle games to an almost hilariously impossible level.

Which is what ultimately turned me into a big ole cheater-face. I almost always hate myself for doing it, but any time answers to trivia or crossword puzzles or word searches are printed within view of the questions or puzzles, I must sneak a peek. I always begin the puzzle with a hopeful heart and a fool's optimism. I proclaim to myself that this time I won't peek. This time I will solve the puzzle for myself. Using my brain. And I do try to do that for a while, but then five or ten minutes, I mean, hours, pass and I find that I have somehow turned the page upside down and accidentally saw the answer. Oops! In Monkey Island's case, I sort of “accidentally” found myself alt-tabbing to and those handy-dandy walk-throughs written by either robots or very hairy people who type from under mountains of empty Mountain Dew cans and beef jerky wrappers who possess way bigger brains, a lot more patience and even more acne than I have. God bless these people for being able to solve these puzzles and then for taking the time to write out exactly what they did so that cheater cheater pumpkin eaters like me can get 26% of her way through the game!

Ben's assignment was to play until I had to receive help five times. Turns out, I didn't really understand the assignment. I thought he meant that I should play until I required help from him.

I innocently bat my eyelashes at him.
“You mean I was supposed to refer to only on the rare occasion that I'd need a helping hand? You mean I wasn't supposed to read through each paragraph and do what it said? You mean it is actually possible to figure out that the way to get an article of Largo's clothing needed to make his voodoo doll was to go get a bucket I never noticed at all and then take it across the map to the swamp I didn't know was there and then fill the bucket with mud and then bring it back to Largo's room and “use” it on the door and then I should know to hide behind his dressing room curtain and wait for Largo to come in so the mud falls on his head and dirties his clothing? Of course! How stupid of me!”

I have mixed feelings about and cheater codes and even receiving help from Ben. I hate to do it! I really do. I don't like asking for help. If I need to lift a crazily heavy box I actually prefer to just do it myself than ask someone to help me. I know my limits. This game surpasses them. Luckily, the game is quirky and fun and laugh out loud funny (really!).

(Check out the questions you can choose to ask this fat governor dude. This game is silly in a really great way).
Monkey Island 2

What's the alternative? Not play the game? Get stuck and give up? That's what would normally happen. After I finished the first section of MI:2, I did vow to try harder to only refer to when I really, really needed it. That worked for a while. I almost figured out how to get myself out of a locked jail cell by myself. I used a stick (which I cleverly found in my cell by pushing my mattress aside) on everything and nothing worked! After a brief peek at I discovered that I hadn't quite tried to use my stick on everything. Silly me didn't think using a stick on a bone would result in anything! However, I did take notice of the bone before I peeked at the website, so I am making progress. I may play a couple more hours of this game, with a little help from my imaginary, pimply, caffeinated walk-through writer friend, because I care about the story! Yay! Thank you, Monkey Island, for having a compelling story with great dialogue, funny voice acting, and clever writing. You did more for me than the author of Tristram Shandy. Even CliffsNotes couldn't help me cheat my way through that one.

Will I continue playing Monkey Island 2 or shall I start my next game assignment: play Dragon Quest IX (NDS) until I have defeated the Wight (sic) Knight. All I know about Dragon Quest games is they are extremely popular in Japan and they feature blue slimes shaped like chocolate chips. I will learn more soon enough. Until then, I have a Dragon Quest IX Game Manual, some, and a little eighteenth century literature to read.


  1. Sometimes walkthroughs are just necessary. Particularly with monkey island and its ilk. Sometimes even with dragon quest! Dragon quest 7 is particularly cruel with this. The first few hours are an obscure watch-paint-dry spectacle of finding just the right place to go, or just the right person to talk to, with no clues to guide you. DQ 9 has minor infractions as well. You have to find a lost lizard at a desert palace. Your clue? Find a place without noisy people. Does that mean a particular corner in a palace floor that otherwise has people? A floor or room with no one at all? Knowing that the developers were only trying to waste my time, I looked up the answer. Let's just say my conscience is clear.

  2. I've always liked WATCHING Colin play Monkey Island games, etc. because it's fun to go, "Ooh, ooh, try ________. Aw. What about _______? Aw. Did you try _______? Okay." And then get bored and go get a snack & get lost on my way back while he figures it out and I do something else. And then says, "Hey, I got it!" and I get to see more plot & dialog.

  3. If I have to refer to a walkthrough more than once or twice in a game, I feel like I'm assembling an Ikea cabinet and having just about as much fun.