Tim Schafer’s twittering trip through Monkey Island 2 SE
It’s been 20 years since the release of LucasArts’ classic graphic adventure about pirates and demonic ghosts. That was when lead designer Tim Schafer last played through Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, but with the game recently getting the special edition treatment, there has been no better time for Schafer to indulge in a spot of nostalgia.
He has been sharing his experiences on Twitter, revealing the name he would have given Guybrush, the scenes reused from the first game, his experiences with an analogue stick and his approval of HD cheese squigglies.
There is an age old question: do developers get stuck on their own games? We don’t know for sure, but we imagine that it’s a great worry for them: “Finally playing Monkey 2 SE. I haven’t played MI2 since it came out, almost 20 years ago. Hope I can remember some of these puzzles,” announced Schafer over Twitter, with a tinge of excitement and dread. He has a number of followers on hand to help him out but he wants to get by on his own: “Enough with the spoilers, people. I’m old and have forgotten enough that this is like a new game for me. Don’t taint my monkey!” It must be a great feeling to play your own game as if it’s new.
Should Schafer find himself struggling – and we suspect he will, on that insane alley door puzzle on Phatt island – he could always call 1-900-740-5334. That’s LucasArts’ $0.75 a minute hints helpline, mischievously tweeted to Schafer from Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert. It seems they still get along fine these days.
Thankfully, expensive hotlines are a thing of the past – they’re being rendered obsolete by free, easily accessible, internet walkthroughs. Plus, the special edition has a few useful support tools to help the novice, such as hints and glowing interactive objects. “The glow on hot objects would have offended us in 1991, but it looks cool and totally helped me find the knife in the kitchen.” Schafer appears to have softened his stance now that he’s on the receiving end of the puzzles.
When we played through the game again, one thing we found helpful was the new HD graphics. It meant we could finally tell what the objects actually were, when before they were a pixelated mystery. Schafer approves of the new visuals: “Another good thing about the special edition: Visible Cheese Squigglies.” He’s been switching between the classic and special edition builds admiring the nice touches to the artwork: “Going back and forth between classic and SE. I like the little details they added, like the frogs, moths, and fish in Woodtick.”
The special edition also makes you view scenes in a different light: “Weird. That peg leg polishing scene didn’t seem so dirty to me at the time.” Schafer’s experience with the special edition hasn’t been completely positive; he complains when asked about using an analogue stick: “Analogue stick. It’s hard. Needs some sticky tech or something.”
The special edition may have a new coat of paint and new features added, but some things never change – like long trips across the map: “I wrote this entire tweet in the time it took for Guybrush to walk all the way out to Dread’s ship.” Is this a bad thing? After all, it does make Monkey Island 2 more suited to this multi-tasking age.
Schafer also let us into some secrets from the game’s development. It seems more things from Secret of Monkey Island were carried over to the sequel than we had first realised:
“Aha. That opening campfire looks suspiciously familiar! I can’t believe we just re-used the lookout fire from Monkey 1. Oh wait, yes I can… I think it’s even anti-aliased for the old, grey-blue background, but this background is orange. I blame Dave (Grossman). Because he’s not on Twitter.”
One follower asked him if they reused anything else from the first game, to which Schafer replied: “I’m pretty sure we didn’t make a new rat for the men of low moral fiber (pirates).”
We learned that the Voodoo Lady’s dialogue was inspired by Schafer’s father’s wise musings on evil (in Star Wars): “Voodoo Lady says, ‘True evil can never be destroyed’, because that’s what my dad said after we saw Star Wars the first time.” Wise words from Schafer Sr. He should be in the credits. Schafer also reminisced on Peter Chan‘s contribution: “I think that potato-peeling chef is the one and only piece of character animation that Peter Chan ever did.”
A trip to the Scabb Island cemetery invoked other memories.
“Whoa. I forgot we put a Hank Plank joke in the cemetery. That’s what I wanted to call Guybrush!” … But @grumpygamer said, “No, I have a story about Enhanced DeluxePaint I want to tell for the rest of my life!”
Deluxe Paint is of course the paint tool which Gilbert used to design Guybrush. We’re glad Gilbert stuck to his guns; it just wouldn’t be right playing the adventures of Harry Plank.
Developer commentary was also added for the special edition: it was Schafer’s only involvement in the project. Certain screens allow the player to trigger commentary from Schafer, Gilbert and Grossman which has them discuss their memories of the game. We thought they sounded like they enjoyed doing the commentary. We attributed this to them reliving their fond memories together, but it could just be that they were slightly inebriated: “You can tell in the Captain Dread commentary that they gave us beer.”
Schafer admits to listening to his own commentary while playing the game: “I totally am! I want to see if they used any of the scandalous stuff.” Scandalous stuff? What could have been said?
Schafer’s finishes his first play-through of the game for 20 years just before the of part 1: “Okay, Largo has the beard in his pants. Time to go to bed!” He appears to be enjoying the game so far with no sign of any regrets. If he reveals anything interesting about part II to IV we’ll be sure to update this article.
If you have never played Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, then this article probably confused you, a lot. Make sure you check out the review, and then go and get the game from the PlayStation Store. It’s awesome.