We had hoped for it... clamored for it, even. After the release of the first Monkey Island Special Edition on XBLA in the summer of 2009, all of us hardcore adventure gamers were positive that its success would bring about a special edition of the second installment, with all of the same updated-yet-adherence-to-the-original brilliance. On July 7, 2010 we got what we wanted. The updated version of the second Monkey Island title available on XBLA is everything you would hope it to be. With its updated HI-DEF watercolor graphics, voiceover dialogue, commentaries and control scheme, it is safe to say that MI2: SE is "all that and an empty bag of parrot food."
You can safely put away your DOSBox or SCUMMVM applications. MI2: SE also contains the original PC version in all of its pixilated glory. This time around, however, the developers decided to leave in the option to play the original version with the voice over dialogue (or the new version with subtitles). Also contained is a "Mystery Science Theater 3000" style commentary track on certain scenes. Ron Gilbert, Dave Grossman and Tim Schaefer appear as silhouettes on the side of the screen and speak about various aspects of the scene currently being shown on the screen. This is a funny and insightful feature, but it does leave the player wanting a bit more from it... perhaps by design.
The control schemes on the consoles have been revamped. Players can choose from a new "perspective based" scheme where the left stick moves Guybrush around the screen (last seen in Telltale Games new "Tales Of Monkey Island" series), or stick with the old "point-and-click" method for which these games are known. The triggers will open your inventory or a menu that allows you to choose from the old SCUMM engine dialogue choices (ie LOOK AT... TALK TO... etc). Those of you wanting to remember the old times will likely want to stick to the "original" point-and-click scheme.
The music is absolutely beautiful and much richer than it was on the original. The game's musical content is also a bit different when played in the classic mode, as it seems the outdated "musical transition" system has been completely replaced by pre-recorded versions of each track. Fans of the original may or may not notice these details, but there HAVE been a few liberties taken here and there on this "Special Edition." This includes the removal of the opening credit sequence from the original, as well as the classic closing credits bit "50 constructive things you can do now..."
Why they were removed is a mystery.
The game also contains a singular difficulty level (the original allowed players to choose their desired difficulty), which is the one considered to be the hardest in the original version. There is also an autosave system that will save a player's progress every time something substantial is accomplished. The autosave system cannot be turned off, but there are manual save slots available in case you want to mark a specific point in the game.
The entire package does a fantastic job of delivering all the fun, brain-teasing puzzles and hilarity for which the series is known. Guybrush and LeChuck are voiced by Dominic Armato and Terminator veteran Earl Boen respectively, as they (thankfully) have been since "Curse of Monkey Island" in 1997. The new animations and music breathe life into the game for veterans who may have already been through the title years ago (and many times at that), and if you are new to the adventure genre you owe it to yourself to take a stroll through a title that is considered a classic milestone that helped define the genre. For the price of a DvD you can ship out with Guybrush Threepwood and endeavor to rekindle the love of Elaine Marley and find the secret treasure of "Big Whoop!" It's more fun than an amusement park! (*snicker*)