Gamer Goodies: Monkey Island 2

As of last week, Peder and I are the proud owners of a brand-new (well, refurbished) Xbox One. We’ve been wanting one for a little while, as we’ve seen more and more awesome-looking games come out, and we’ve been breaking it in with style by playing it as much as we can find time to (which, naturally, is not nearly as often as we’d like)!

We’ve gotten our hands on a few shiny-looking games we’ve been eyeing, like Dragon Age: Inquisition and Shadows of Mordor (which I’ve been dying to play since the second I heard about it), but so far, we’ve actually been spending most of our game-playing time on the free games we’ve downloaded.

Again and again, I’ve found myself extremely pleasantly surprised by these games. My experience with free video games is limited mostly to the demos that came with PC games I had as a kid, or at best, halfway-decent mobile games I’ve run across. However, times have thankfully changed, and to my delight, we’ve found that there are all kinds of free games out there for the Xbox One that are just as good as the ones we’ve paid cold, hard cash for.

Image Credit: lol.disney.com

I’ll be talking about at least one more of these games in the coming weeks, but today, I want to focus on the one we most recently added to our collection — Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge.

The moment I saw this game on the list, I knew we had to download it. When I was in high school, my brother, two of our good friends, and I played the first iteration of this game — The Secret of Monkey Island. To this day, playing that game is honestly one of my favorite memories from teenagerhood; it was worth the price of admission just for the sheer amount of inside jokes it generated. The game was originally released for PC in 1990, and was later remastered a couple of times (the version we played was probably one of those). It comes straight out of the glory days of 32-bit gaming, and was an adventure/logic/point-and-click game.

The mechanics were deceptively simple–you played as Guybrush Threepwood (which is clearly best name ever), a young would-be pirate trying to save his lady love from the evil undead pirate captain LeChuck. You navigate through various Caribbean-esque islands, completing quests and picking up clues along the way.

To choose what to do next, you move your cursor around the screen to interact with objects — typically, you have the option to look at them, push or pull them, open or close them, or pick them up. You can then either keep them, use them, combine them with other items, or give them to someone, depending on what the game allows for the particular item. Through interacting with objects, you eventually get the characters around you to do what you need them to do, or find ways to travel to where you need to go. You can also interact with most of the people (and often animals) that populate the game in order to accomplish your tasks. And more often than not, the characters around you will have funny — or surprising — reactions.

To complete the various tasks needed to eventually make your way to the final confrontation with LeChuck, you’ll have to use all your puzzle-solving skills (and a fair bit of guesswork). The challenges can primarily be beaten through witty reasoning, but much of the time, they require you to think like Guybrush would — namely, according to an extremely offbeat and unexpected form of…”logic.” Many of the solutions aren’t what you’d expect at first. Often, actions that you would never think would work end up being the key to solving a puzzle and moving forward, and things that seem like they should be obvious end up having little to no effect other than making Guybrush say a silly one-liner.

Image Credit: Steam

Satisfyingly, Monkey Island 2 is every bit as quirky, goofy, mind-bending, and fourth-wall-breaking as the original. Its aesthetic and gameplay style are also wonderfully reminiscent of the first game. When Peder and I started playing this game, I dared to hope that it would gratify my desire to relive playing the original, while still offering plenty of new adventures and a more polished gameplaying experience. To my delight, this hope was fulfilled every bit as well as I could wish!

One of the great things about this game is that it’s a really fun one to play collaboratively. It may only allow for one player to control the game at a time, but since there are so many puzzles along the way, many of which force you to think well outside of the box to solve, having a friend or three beside you to help think of what to do next or what series of steps might be needed to complete the next challenge can be really handy — and can keep you from getting hopelessly stuck. However, it’ll still be plenty tricky — I remember getting stuck plenty of times while playing the original game, even though there were always several of us working together, and Peder and I have already had to look up a couple of hints while playing the new one. But because the difficulty (and goofiness) level is so high, playing this game with friends ends up making for a well-balanced, well-paced gaming experience.

Monkey Island 2 is a great game for those who, like me, loved the original installment, but it’s also a fun choice for just about any type of gamer, from young to old, experienced player or newbie. It’s a good one for serious gamers who want something lighthearted, or casual gamers who want something with a good balance of challenge and fun. I’ll admit that I’m extremely biased toward this game no matter what, but for me, it’s been spot-on from the beginning, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Have you played The Secret of Monkey Island or Monkey Island 2? Would you give this one a try? What great free games have you found for your favorite console?

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