And monkeys might fly out of my butt...

Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge logo Amiga Computing Gamer Gold

US Gold * £37.99 * 1 meg * Mouse * Out now

"Eagerly awaited". Now there's a phrase that fits this game perfectly. Since the original Monkey Island revolutionised the world of graphic adventures a few years ago, the whole world, and probably some of our neighbouring planets as well, has been holding out for the continuing adventures of Guybrush Threepwood and his pirate pals.
And it's here. Right now. In fact, there's a copy waiting for you at your local software shop. So go and buy it. Go on.
Hrrumph. I suppose you'll want me to tell you a bit more about the game than that. I might as well, I'd probably get sacked otherwise. All righty then, here comes the story so far...

Way back in the Secret of Monkey Island, we met a wannabe pirate by the unlikely name of Guybrush Threepwood. Under our careful guidance, he become a fully-fledged pirate and defeated the evil ghost pirate, LeChuck.
Fast forward a few years and we rejoin Guybrush as he sets off to find the legendary treasure of Big Whoop, and deal with the newly resurrected zombie LeChuck.
We also bump into some other old friends along with GuyBrush and LeChuck. Stan the used salesman is now a used coffin salesman.
Governor Elaine Marley is back as Guybrush's reluctant leading lady. The spooky VooDoo lady has set up her own VooDoo mail order service, while Herman Toothrot is still a hermit. And, yes, there are monkeys in it.

While we were away things have changed for our hero. Guybrush has grown himself a natty goatee beard and become a respected and admired hero. At least, that's what he thinks.
Once again, you must wield mouse to direct Guybrush through an even bigger and better adventure than before. A heady brew of voodoo, zombies, pirates and caustic humour awaits, so let's take a look.

And it is indeed bigger and better than before. The feel and look of the game is a lot nicer this time, thanks to what looks like graphics ported across from the PC.
It even sounds better thanks to the iMuse sound system. This adapts the music as you progress, so the music flows naturally from upbeat reggae to spooky graveyard music with nary a hiccup. It also gets full marks for incorporating the refrain from Wave of Mutilation by the Pixies into the music for the town of Tickwood.

The humour is back as well, and it's rib tickling stuff. Oh yes indeed missus. All the way through it manages to spoof everything from Star Wars to the original Secret of Monkey Island, with little digs at people in general all the way through.
If anything MI2 is even dafter than its predecessor, and it's got the most ridiculous ending ever.

The control system remains unchanged, with the same commands only a mouse click away. The only thing it does lack is a drop command so Guybrush's pockets soon stretch to Tardis-like proportions.
There is no limit to how much you can carry, but the more stuff you have, the longer it takes to look through the inventory. However, it does eliminate the problem of choosing which items to take and which to leave.

It's also a very user-friendly game. If you're a beginner then you can opt for a trainer version of the game with some of the trickier problems removed, and even the full game helps you along with a friendly shove.
That's not to say it's easy. Oh no. Some of the problems are total killers. It's just that the game avoids situations that could leave you stranded. There's no sudden death, and if you make a mess of a problem, maybe by forgetting to get a certain object, then the game will let you get it rather than forcing you on without it. This means that you are free to experiment with different responses and ideas without fear of being penalised for it.

Other points worth highlighting are that despite the incredibly detailed graphics and animation, the game still skips along at a fair old pace. Take note, Sierra. Even playing from the starting 11 floppies, it's smooth and swapping is kept to minimum. Ber-limey, eh?

Well, this is all getting a bit sycophantic so I'll go into 'cynical old man mode' and pick some downers. Hmm. Well, my biggest problem is that the whole thing is fairly unsurprising.

There's been no great shake-ups on the style front. If I was feeling very brutal I could be tempted to say that it's basically a remake of the original with cosmetic changes and different puzzles. But then, Evil Dead 2 was a remake of The Evil Dead and it was tons better.

The other problem with games of this ilk is that once you've finished it, you won't be back. It may take you a long time to get there, but once you've done it the appeal vanishes. Yeah, it's nitpicking but you should be warned.

Apart from that though, this is horribly close to being a perfect game. It's certainly the best adventure I've seen for ages, and it sets the standard for future graphic adventures in the same way as the original Monkey Island did.

Fans of the genre should seek this one out without delay. In fact, they probably already have. And good for them. You know it makes sense.

Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge logo

The problem with sequels is that they cover the same ground. Can Lucasfilm break the trend and expand on their first adventure?

There have been quite a few graphic adventures released for the Amiga over the years, but few have managed to achieve as much acclaim as those released by Lucasfilm Games. One game in particular came from the esteemed halls of Lucasfilm last year which captured the imagination of Amiga adventurers everywhere. There was no hype, no fuss and no expensive license involved - it just appeared. That game was The Secret of Monkey Island.

After such a monumental success, it was pretty inevitable that a sequel game would follow (a fact that was hoped for by the many fans of the original), and it has finally appeared in the form of Monkey Island 2 - LeChuck's Revenge.

Lights, camera, action
The game starts off in a very cinematic style, with the hero of the first adventure, Guybrush Threepwood, in a rather tricky predicament. The adventure then continues in a sort of extended flashback as Guybrush explains how he came to be in this situation.

After a film-like introduction (complete with Hollywood-style credits), you are left to wander around the town of Woodtick on Scabb Island. Here you come across a number of characters who will each give you information as to your ultimate goal. Obviously it's not as simple as finding out what to do and then doing it, you must overcome a number of puzzles before you get anywhere near your objective.

Even when you think you've done what you are supposed to do, things usually take a devious twist, opening up another side of the story for you to investigate.

The game's control system is very similar to the first Guybrush adventure. You move the pointer around the screen to highlight interesting items or characters and select an action from a list at the bottom of the screen to interact with them. Simple. What isn't so simple is working out exactly what to do with the items and what to say to the characters to get anywhere in the game!

New improved formula
Although the original game was such a classic, and consequently difficult to improve upon, Lucasfilm have managed just that with the sequel. Believe it or not the game is better on every level. The graphics are absolutely gorgeous, with exquisitely-drawn backgrounds, more solid-looking characters and greatly improved animation sequences (just check out the dance by the Big Tree or the scene where Guybrush can't hold his alcohol).

The new iMuse system also adds a new depth of feel to the game, with sound effects, atmospheric music and smooth fades from one tune to another giving the whole game an incredible slick presentation. Even though all this information is on a lot of disks, swapping isn't too frequent (due to the careful organisation of graphics and sound for various locations on their relevant disks) and loading is speedy enough to keep even users without a hard drive engrossed for hours at a time.

The control system has been improved too. The number of control options has been stripped down from twelve to nine (losing the automatic WALK TO and the never-used TURN ON and TURN OFF), making each puzzle a test of your deductive thinking, rather than having to ponder which command should be used. The inventory has also been refined, using icons to portray every object rather than just giving a list of text. This not only makes everything look prettier, but it gives rise to a whole host of visual puzzles that aren't really possible with words.

Although these refinements are superficial, they aren't the only things that have been improved about the game. For a start the scope of the adventure is much wider. You start off limited to moving around on Scabb, but the quest then spreads to encompass a whole range of islands (and all this before you've even found a treasure map). The depth of gameplay has also been extended, requiring some serious brain-stretching and head bashing at times, but the going is made immense fun by the applications of a massive helping of humour. Whereas the original game had humour in small doses littered around the game, pretty much everything you do and everyone you meet gives rise to an amusing (and sometimes hilarious) situation.

Add the elements of the greatly improved graphics, the impressive iMuse system, the better control system, the bigger quest and the funnier humour, and you've got just about the best, most enjoyable, adventure game yet seen on the Amiga... or anywhere else for that matter. Buy it now.

Who's Who on Scabb Island
To get anywhere, you're going to have to suss out the occupants of Scabb Island. The general collection of odd characters have information and items that will allow you to leave the island and continue your quest - if you could lift the sailing embargo!
Woody Carpenter
Woody is a purveyor of fine furnishing's, peg-legs and seaworthy-propulsion devices. He will be helpful and courteous as long as you keep away from his tools and his Buzz-saw Girl calendar. Always on call with this toolbox for an emergency call, Woody keeps the occupants of Scabb on their feet (wooden, that is).
Wally B Feed
An artistic, yet short-sighted, cartographer. Short, to the point and blind as a bat, but will churn out map reproductions in no time. You'd better keep on his good side and make sure that he doesn't get into any trouble with pirates, otherwise your search for the treasure could be short-lived.
Mad Marty
A scrupulous cleaner, but a bit lacking in the old external senses department. If you don't place your claim ticket right in his hand, you may as well be waving a bookmark in his face (which doesn't help when picking up laundry). Remember to stand close to him, write big and shout loud, or the duffer will think you've gone.
The Barman
A man living on the brink. Owner of the only bar on Scabb, but struggling to make end meet due to the high taxes put on the various drinks he sells - hence the expansion into French cuisine. Just watch out for the added fibre in the vichyssoise, otherwise it could be a trip to the local doctor.
The Innkeeper
An officious little bod who keeps his one hotel room guarded against entry from unauthorised pirate raiders. In fact, the only thing he cares about more is the possibility of an expensive lawsuit if hit pet alligator, Pegbiter, attacks the public, especially after all the fuss with the tourists last time!
Bart and Fink
Two pirates with a song, a jape and a weenie for anyone who cares to listen... as long as they don't tell boring stories. By the way, if they offer you any marshmallows, make sure you check them carefully before trying to eat any of them.
Captain Dread
A cool, stylish and laid-back individual, superstitious navigator and budget charter-executive. Always ready to give you the voyage of a lifetime (and about twice as long). Just make sure that he is equipped with his various lucky sailing accoutrements, otherwise not a paddle will hit the water.
Men of low moral fibre
The circus act have gone under, the pirating biz on the rocks, the philosophy trip in confusion and no more PTA minutes to sell, these chaps have decided to sleep it off and let the rat wander freely. If only their dreams could have come to fruition - what a career they would have had. A sad loss to society - NOT!
Largo LeGrande
Dictator, bully, thief, extortionist and rug-head. Holds the island prisoner in his dandruff-encrusted fist, bullying inhabitants, stealing their money and refusing to pay for this round. A sorry individual who could do with a good trashing. What we could use here is a bit of that old voodoo magic...
The Voodoo Lady
Queen of the House of Mojo, this refugee from Melee island has shipped out and set up business in the more appropriate atmosphere of the swamps of Scabb. Do the shopping for her and she can construct the finest in voodoo trickery for you, as long as she can find a copy of the recipe book.

What makes Monkey Island a classic?

We think The Secret of Monkey Island stands out as an all-time classic. Others might disagree. But what is it about a game that makes it a classic, and why is Monkey Island on? Damien has a theory...

Hundreds of games are released every year, but only a few stand out as a real winners and even fewer are accepted as genuine classics. These are the games people still talk about years on, the ones that broke the mould and did something new.

Lemmings - universally acclaimed as the most original and impressive game of last year by UK programmers. Rainbow Islands - voted top game of all time for a second year in a row by our sister magazine Amiga Power. And Secret of Monkey Island - a game that is not going to be forgotten easily.

But what is it that makes Monkey Island a classic? Well, I have a weird theory about the nature of games playing. It goes like this.

Damien's Theorem: there are only two types of computer game. Type One is the Action Game, based on the physical skills of reaction, coordination and timing, like a shoot-em-up. Type Two is the Thought Game, based on the mental skills of problems solving, like a puzzle game or adventure. Simple enough.

I'll allow the argument that there is a third type: a game that mixes both. But all games are based on either one, or the other or both.
You may find this hard to accept at first - after ll, we're used to hearing about hundreds of different kinds of games, from the vertically-scrolling platform game to the arcade adventure. But think for a moment about what you do when playing a game, and you'll realise it fits more or less neatly into one of these categories.

You may have seen a lot of hype recently from people who think computer games are 'bad for you'. This is precisely why they're not OK, so the images associated with them are often fast cars, spaceships and martial arts. But you'd have to be a real clown to equate Operation Wolf with the real world. And the skills you're developing while playing are pure physical reactions and logical thought.

The reason why really ancient arcade games - Space Invaders, PacMan, Defender, Asteroids - are so widely remembered and revered by the older generation of gamesplayers is because they were pure action or thought of gameplay, unobscured by graphics or a theme.

With only two different types of games, you'd imagine that making a classic original would be tricky, wouldn't you? Well, it does seem that way sometimes. But not necessarily.
It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it. Lemmings is just a puzzle game, that's all it is. But the mechanics of that puzzle game are so nicely worked out, the difficulty level is so carefully judged and the presentation is not only nice in itself but fits seamlessly with the nature of the puzzles. It just works
But is that really what people remember about it? No. They remember these cute little creatures, wandering around tumbling off cliffs and getting blown up. Why?

The Secret of Monkey Island is a different kind of classic, but perhaps more of a mouldbreaker in its way. Again, like most adventures, it's a logic puzzle game. You have to collect information and think things through to achieve your goal. That's the gameplay.

But what really made Monkey Island stand out was that it's probably the first really funny computer game. Your incentive for exploring it, for getting further, is not just to arrive and the end but also for the sake of the journey itself. Just the combat system, replacing the exchange of blows with the exchange of witty one-liners, was an idea of some genius.

And perhaps that's what really makes a classic game stand out. The gameplay makes a classic game stand out. The gameplay has to be good, it has to be very good, because we've seen most kinds of gameplay many times before. But what really makes a game great is having something extra, that bit of class, that defines what is done with that gameplay. Monkey Island was a giggle from start to finish - and it won't easily be forgotten. Unless, of course, LeChuck's Revenge outstrips it...

Do you disagree with Damien's theory that there are only two kinds of game? Can you not stand any of the games in our Top Ten of classics? Do you have a list of your own? Write, right now, with your views to Letter, Amiga Format, 30 Mommouth Street Bath BA1.

The Amiga Format UNOFFICIAL Top Ten Classic Games...
Footnote: not everyone on Amiga Format would agree with all 10 of these. One thing they mostly have in common: console versions later appeared, but the original inspiration came from the computer, and mainly Amiga, version. Saying something?
Secret of Monkey Island 2
Lucasfilm via US Gold
Probably the best adventure game ever made.
Formula One Grand Prix
Lucasfilm via US Gold
Probably the most realistic driving game ever made.
Rainbow Islands
Conversion of Taito Coin-op by Graftgold for Ocean
Probably the best arcade conversion ever.
James Pond II
By Millennium via US Gold
The most amazing and original arcade-style game ever.
Populous 2
Lucasfilm via US Gold
Probably the tidiest blend of action and strategy ever.
Sim City
From Maxis via Infogrames
The most intriguing strategy game ever devised.
Kick Off 2
By Dino Dini for Anco
Probably (That's enough of the "probablies" thanks! Ed)
Eye of the Beholder
From SSI via US Gold
Probably the best of the pure RPG adventures.
By DMA Design for Psygnosis
Certainly the best puzzle game ever made.
First Samurai
Vivid Image
Stunning effects, but intriguing play too!

Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge logo Amiga Joker Hit

Endlich hat Lucas Arts die Amigaversion der zweiten Affeninsel fertiggestellt, endlich haben alle arbeitslosen Piraten wieder eine sinnvolle Aufgabe, endlich überschüttet uns der Postbote nicht mehr mit Anfragen, wann denn dieses Game endlich herauskäme. Endlich, endlich, endlich!

Es schien sich aber auch wirklich alles gegen uns Affenliebhaber verschworen zu haben: Während PC-Piraten Freund Guybrush bereits seit über einem halben Jahr durchs aktuelle Karibik-Abenteuer schleuchen dürften, wurde die Amigaversion immer wieder verschoben. Alles vergeben und vergessen - die Umsetzung ist astrein ausgefallen!

Auf stattlichen elf Scheiben wird das Game geliefert, erstaunlicherweise läßt es sich dennoch auch von Disk relativ passabel spielen: Sämtliche Daten, auf die das Programm ständig zurückgreifen muß, sind gleichermaßen auf allen Disketten zu finden, wodurch sich (im Gegensatz zu beispielsweise vielen Dynamix-Adventures) die Wechselei in erträglichen Grenzen hält; dennoch wäre hier eine Harddisk sicher nicht verkehrt. Die Grafik wurde im 32 Farben-Modus erstellt und ist wunderschön anzusehen, das Scrolling hat auch zu PC-Zeiten schon geruckelt, und der Hauptdarsteller ist nun zwar etwas langsamer unterwegs, im Vergleich zu manch anderem Amiga-Helden rast er aber geradezu irrwitzig flott über den Screen. Lediglich beim Sound müssen größere Abstriche gemacht werden, denn Musik ertönt auf der "Freundin" nur noch gelegentlich, und die Effekte fehlen weitgehend. Aber Story und Handlungsablauf sind selbstverständlich hundertprozentig identisch zur "Urversion".

Am Anfang steht eine Begegnung zwischen Guybrush Threepwood und Elaine Marley, jener hübschen Inselgouverneurin, die der frischgebackene Pirat im ersten Teil aus den Klauen des üblen Geisterkapitäns Le Chuck befreien könte. Mittlerweise ist das aber Schnee von gestern, denn nun erzählt Guybrush Elaine von seinem nächsten, viel größeren Coup: Der sagenumwobene Schatz "Big Whoop", an den sich bisher noch kein Pirat rantraute, soll ihm zu Ruhm, Ehre und ein bißchen Kleingeld verhelfen. Er begibt sich deshalb nach Scabb Island, wo er aber unrühmlicherweise erstmal seine komplette Barschaft an den ehrlosen Banditen Largo los wird. Und schon wird's kompliziert, denn sehr bald stellt sich heraus, daß der gesuchte Schatz gar nicht auf Scabb Island liegt - aber eine sofortige Weiterreise ist nicht drin, weil da sowohl Largo als auch Guybrush leerer Geldbeutel etwas dagegen haben...

Nun, gegen Largo hilft eine Voodoo-Puppe, die die bereits vom Vorgänger her bekannte Wahrsagerin im Sumpf gerne anfertigt, immer vorausgesetzt, man besorgt ihr die erforderlichen Zutaten. Überhaupt wollen immer alle was von einem, beispielsweise stellt der hilfsbereite Captain Dread sein Schiff nur dann als Fluchtfahrzeug zur Verfügung, wenn man ihm einen Talisman und 20 Goldstücke überreicht. Dazu mal ein kleiner Tip: Ein ausgezeichneter Glücksbringer ist das Monokel des skurrilen Kartographen Wally, der Guybrush auch erzählt, daß der Lageplan für Big Whoop in vier Teile zerrissen wurde und sich daher jetzt im Besitz von vier verschiedenen Leute befindet. Klingt nach viel Arbeit? Ist es auch! Im Vergleich zum ersten Teil haben Rätseldichte und -knackigheit drei Zähne zugelegt, manchmal muß man schon um mehrere Ecken denken, um die abstrusen Denksportaufgaben zu lösen!

Wie gehabt verteilt sich die Geschichte auf mehre Inseln (genauer: dreieinhalb), auf denen der Held als winzige Pixel-Figur nach Belieben herumlaufen kann. Sobald er eine interessante Örtlichkeit erreicht, wird von der Vogelperspektive wieder auf die normale Seitenansicht mit einem vernünftig großen Guybrush umgeschaltet. Wenn dann nicht zufälligerweise gerade eine jener Lucas-typischen, trickfilmartigen Zwischensequenzen (in die man nicht eingreifen kann) ansteht, läßt man ihn in gewohnter Weise per Maus und Verbenliste agieren. An der rein mausgesteuerten Benutzerführung hat sich also wenig geändert, mal davon abgesehen, daß die Gegenstände im Inventory nun als Icons erscheinen. Geredet wird im Multiple-Choice-Verfahren, man darf endlos viele Spielstände anlegen, es gibt eine Codeabfrage als Kopierschutz, und das ganze Programm ist komplett in deutsch zu haben.

Im Gegensatz zum Vorgänger sind hier jedoch deutlich mehr Orte zu erforschen und mehr Rätsel zu lösen: man begegnet auch mehr Personen, teilweise handelt es sich dabei aber um alte Bekannte wie die schöne Gouverneurin Elaine oder den wiederbelebten Bösewicht Le Chuck.

An Komplexität herrscht nun also kein mangel mehr, und an (manchmal aber witzigen!) humoristischen Einlagen ohnehin nicht. Hier ist einfach alles drin und dran: Liebe, Drama, Wahnsinn, stimmige Atmosphäre und Knobelspaß satt - da sieht man über die letztendlich äußert geringen "Umsetzungs-Verluste" gerne hinweg. Mag das Spiel auch etwas Disk-Wechselei mit sich bringen und die Musikbegleitung spärlicher sein als auf dem PC ,Hauptsache, das Gameplay ist in Ordnung. Und weil dem selbst auf "Problem-Amigas" wie dem A500 Plus oder dem 3000er so ist, gibt's hier nur eine Devise: Entert schnellstens die Geschäfte! (C. Borgmeier)

Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge logo

Guybrush is back in the most eagerly awaited adventure of modern times...

Humour in computer games is a rare and beautiful thing. But why is it so rare? Well, it has been argued (quite a few times actually) that comedy is such a subjective thing you'd have problems making it appeal to a wide audience, but I can't see it. (Comedy films and TV shows wouldn't be big hits if that was true). No, I reckon the real reason there aren't many (deliberately) funny computer games is that most programmers and designers aren't very funny people. Most are far too serious for their own good - and yours and mine for that matter.

Not so the guys and gals at Lucasfilm. They like a laugh as much as the next man - as they have so ably demonstrated with their range of graphic adventures, particularly Maniac Mansion, the underrated Zak McKraken and, of course, The Secret Of Monkey Island. These are games that were good anyway, but made great - and so much more playable - by not being sober.

And now here's this: the eagerly awaited sequel to the biggest and best of what we might call Lucasfilm's comedy adventures, Monkey Island - a real AMIGA POWER favorite, and arguably one of the most significant games of the last five years. The great news is that, although this new game is a definite improvement over the original in a number of significant ways, it retains its soul and proves just as entertaining (see THE SECRETS OF MONKEY ISLAND'S SUCCESS). In short, it's just as much a doozy as its predecessor.

Monkey Island 2's story begins not where the first episode left off, but with Guybrush Threepwood hanging around in a pit where he's discovered by the light of his life, Elaine Marley. She wants to know how he got into this predicament, so Guybrush explains and the adventure itself begins... as a flashback!

From the word go, both the jokes and the user-friendly nature of the game makes themselves apparent - sometimes intrinsically linked. For instance, when you first start the game you can choose between Monkey Island 2 ("I want it ALL! ALL the puzzles! All the work!"), which is the full blown adventure, or Monkey Island 2 Lite ("I've never played an adventure game before. I'm scared.") which has less puzzles. It is funny, but it is also a considerate touch. Even if you go for the full-blown adventure, however, it's far less intimidating than many similar games - you never worry that you might just get stuck and unable to continue. One reason for this is that making life-threatening mistakes during play is impossible - you know that you will win at some point, it just might take a lot longer than is necessary.

Thus a very welcome confidence is instilled in any player - in some ways it's less of an adventure game, as such, than an interactive 'experience', and you find yourself coming back to it as you would a good book.

Let's look as it as if it were a book then. This particular novel isn't very deep - it's more a punchy, wacky-zany-crazy short story concentrating on inoffensive humour. An abundance of encounters with, and references to, characters and exploits from the first adventure do well to create a sense of belonging, and the non interactive 'cut-scenes' (where the action momentarily shifts to the main baddie or some other character, where you see something significant back happen, then flicks to your own predicament) serve to enhance the cinematic feel.

As in all good novels, the pace varies, although not always for the best - for example, the exploration and conversations on Phatt Island drag on a bit at times. On the whole, though, the dialogue, characters and situations are judged just right, with more than enough variety to keep you from getting bored, yet without moving everything on so fast that you begin to feel lost. The situations are generally completely unbelievable too, and this is used to good effect - it's all so far removed from the real world that you just can't help being drawn into it. The puzzles don't seem like individual problems, as they so often do in adventures of this type but as just one part of a cohesive whole - and solving them is all the more rewarding for that.

By and large a sheer delight to play

However, with Monkey Island 2 being such as big-time release, it's only fair to stop getting carried away with praise (though it deserves praise, make no mistake about that) for a moment, and to step back and take a look at some of its faults. It does have them, and I sincerely hope they can be smoothed out in time for another sequel - otherwise I can't see how a third Monkey Island will be practical on the Amiga.

For a start, Monkey Island 2 lacks some of the charm of the first instalment, partly because we've seen something similar before - the element of surprise is lost - but also because expectations are so high this time round. To be honest, I don't see how this could have been avoided.

It's not so easy to pardon the level of disk swapping and accessing involved, though. Installation on hard disk is recommended, but for the sake of the majority of you out there, I also had a go at playing Monkey Island 2 from good old floppies. Ouch. It takes a good 10 minutes and over half a dozen disk swaps to get started - and that's skipping the film-like title and introductory sequences. Loading a previously saved position from scratch can take a further five minutes and involve yet another half a dozen or so disk swaps.

As always, all this malarkey taints the suspension of disbelief something cronic, and does no justice at all to the carefully crafted atmosphere. Here's an example of the sort of thing I mean, and one of the worst instances. Bad guy Largo walks into a bar and spits - and at this point the screen goes blank, the music stops and you are asked to insert Disk 3. The screen is blanked again and the music plays for a few seconds more before you have to insert Disk 2. Eventually a close-up of Largo's green glob of gob is shown flying across the room! Now this scene would probably look fabulous in a more fluid state, but from floppy disk it's shown up for the stilted series of still frames it really is.

Other quibbles? Well, I'm surprised that the sense of humour doesn't extend to the 'Please Insert Disk...' messages. We know it has to be done with this product, so why not make light of the fact? Also, the game could do with being slightly more consistent, or just plain cleverer, in the way it deals with the various possible permutations there are on the order of events.

Let me explain: for example, I saw Captain Dread before going back to the beach for another chat with Bart 'n' Fink. They suggested I went to see Captain Dread and Guybrush spoke as though he'd never been there. Surely the dialogue could have been adapted accordingly? (Of course, nearly every adventure game suffers from this sort of problem, it's just that Monkey Island 2 is so slick in other areas, what weaknesses there are somehow become much more glaringly obvious).

And last, but not least, on the whinging front: Lucasfilm Games are attempting to create a film-like experience here, and yet the AmigaDos and Workbench screens are displayed in all their blue and white ugliness during the initial stages of loading. Am I being pedantic? No, I'd like to have experienced a cinematic event from start to finish.

This all said, however, Monkey Island 2 is still a great game. You must bear in mind that it's not been built for the standard Amiga - although I reckon it could have been if a top coder had been allowed to get his hands on it - and that you're going to suffer moments of frustration if you try and run it off the floppies, but if you own a hard drive I'd whole-heartedly recommend it.

Monkey Island 2 is, by and large, a sheer delight to play. Certainly, compared to a great many other Amiga releases similar adventures in particular, Monkey Island 2 is quite excellent - a better game than its illustrious predecessor even. Sure it's not completely seamless experience not yet, and I'm disappointed by the very high price tag, but few games will make you smile like this one will.


A s you can see, the scenery looks jolly pleasant. There's a healthy attention to detail, appropriate and atmospheric lightning and a sense of depth (objects closest to the viewer are blurred). There are a few special effects, but most fall flat due to lack of size and aural accompaniment.

However, on the plus side, the scrolling is smoother than that in the first game (but still not as slick as it should be), though the way the characters shrink or grow when they move 'in' or 'out' of the screen, and the way their heads and mouths move to indicate speech, all works well. The absence of close-up shots isn't very noticeable either.

The mouse-and-keyboard-driven interface has been tweaked slightly for added user friendliness. For a start, the text for the commands is physically larger, and there are only nine commands instead of Monkey Island's 12.
When you want Guybrush to walk somewhere, you simply point and click to the destination on the Action Window. And when you want him to talk to someone, you select 'Talk to' and then point and click on the person for a list of questions or replies. It's that simple, albeit a little sluggish at times for some strange reason.

Objects in Guybrush's inventory are shown as pictures, not words which makes selecting them easier. Hoorah!

The iMUSE (interactive Music and Sound Effects) system is theoretically used to tailor the soundtrack and spot effects to suit the mood of the action. But it doesn't work - certainly not on my one megabyte machine. I'd like to have heard some spot effects as well as music throughout, but Monkey Island 2 is played mainly in silence. Boo, hiss.

Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge logo CU Super Star

With the fearsome ghost pirate LeChuck back in business and looking for revenge, Rik Haynes tries to solve the mystery of Big Whoop before it's too late...

Most games designers look to movies and books for ideas, but very few are inspired by theme park rides. After a visit to Pirates Of The Caribbean, which is apparently the best thing about Euro Disney, the development team at Lucasfilm Games let their combined imaginations run wild. Until the release of The Secret of Monkey Island, the 'average player' usually stayed well clear of this style of product. While other games take themselves far too seriously, this one cleverly poked fun at swashbuckling folklore, stories and films The attractive graphics didn't do it any harm, either.

Like the old saying goes, you can't have too much of a good thing. So, with customary style and flair, the only game publisher with a direct line into the movie making business decided to produce a sequel with more gags, gameplay, graphics and, erm, reggae music. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge is the result.

Hailed as a masterpiece on the IBM PC, some pundits claimed the lack of 256-colour visuals would seriously hamper the Amiga adaption. Fortunately, the boys and girls in charge of this conversion had other ideas. Bearing in mind the immense size of the game, it's split into four separate parts to make life easier, and the people at the helm of this Amiga translation have done a marvellous job. While the yam comes on a hefty number of floppy discs, those players who lack the luxury of a hard drive are promised the bare minimum of hassle. Moreover, the programmers are currently devising an intelligent loader to prevent the single floppy drive user going spare with needless frustration.

Following his ghost-busting antics in The Secret Of Monkey Island, Guybrush Threepwood is thirsty for the thrills of more high seas adventures. Taking the role of our boastful hero, the player directs the actions of Guybrush in his quest for the biggest treasure of them all. Tales of the Big Whoop have tempted him back to the cutthroat career of wise-cracking adventurer. He is not sure why, but Guybrush knows this legend is somehow real and ready for the taking.

On his way to the seedy town of Woodtick to find a crew and boat, Guybrush immediately encounters his first obstacle: Largo LaGrande, extortionist extraordinaire and obnoxious minion of the evil LeChuck, is putting the squeeze on Scabb Island. Nothing happens without Largo claiming a large slice of the pie. Before you know it, this horrible little bully has grabbed the stake money and made a quick exit. Shocked and penniless, Threepwood must charter a ship and find a way to crush the Largo Embargo. The situation soon takes a turn for the worse. LeChuck rises from the grave, yet again, and puts a tempting price on your head.

Luckily, Guybrush can rely on the help of old friends like the Voodoo Lady and Elaine Marley, but the task ahead is no picnic for wannabe pirates.

As Ron Gilbert, the creator of Monkey Island 2 puts it, 'revenge is a motive everyone understands' - and Guybrush has a heck of a time avoiding the consequences of LeChuck's anger.

Trying to appeal to as wide an audience possible, players are subtly guided through the humorous ventures of Guybrush. There's also an optional easy mode for beginners.

While creative challenges draw players into the whole experience, a good plot is essential to prevent their interest from gradually waning. A magical formula for creating a tasty blend of the key elements seems to have been hit upon here. According to the guys responsible, they concentrate on the story first and the characters fall out of that. All the puzzles are then carefully crafted to fit in with the story.

The script writers and programmers tend to come up with a lot of funny and bizarre ideas at this point. Artists in the group are asked for their opinions, too. It may seem as though the entire team is 'goofing off' but this is a demanding and crucial part of the project. Gilbert was so absorbed by the process, in fact, that he even solved tricky problems in his sleep. No wonder Monkey Island 2 is so weird. How many times have you ahd to spit to succeed or seen a monkey playing a piano in perfect time to a metronome?

SCUMM, the much talked about operating system used in every graphic adventure from the firm, has undergone a few tweaks since the original outing of Guybrush and his pirate pals. This continues the trend to streamline and enhance the user interface and inner workings of every new game. Why is this revolutionary game engine called SCUMM? It's actually an acronym, and stands for the Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion. This high-level scripting language allows the writers to focus on being creative rather than worrying about technical mumbo jumbo. Constructed of many small programs simultaneously running in the background, SCUMM manages the locations and activities of characters and objects populating every fantasy world that's created by Lucasfilm.

Control over Guybrush is a breeze, allowing any novice to instantly get to grips with the system. Simply point the cursor where you want Guybrush to go, click the mouse button and he'll walk to that location - automatically avoiding any obstacles along the way. Unlike those weak text parsers employed in the past, players don't waste any time guessing which words they have to enter because all the commands are displayed beneath the main window.

Actions like 'give', 'pick up', 'look at' and 'talk to' are activated with a single click, the desired character or object is then highlighted, and the operation performed before your eyes with one more depression of the mouse button. Keyboard shortcuts further improve the workability of this control mechanism. Sentences like 'Use pins in voodoo doll' or 'Talk to parrot' are constructed within a matter of seconds.

Almost everybody in LeChuck's Revenge has something to say. Gilbert first dabbled in the art of conversational computer games when the script for Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade landed on his desk. Apart from the dialogue solely included to add atmosphere, you can learn a few tips from these rather peculiar chats. When words need to be spoken, a selection of possible phrases replaces the panel of verbs and inventory icons. Any snippets of speech are displayed in the panoramic view of your immediate surroundings at the top of the screen.

There is no limit to the number of objects that can be carried. The tricks is to spot any goodies lying around, they're bound to prove useful somewhere down the line. It's particularly amusing to see Guybrush attempting to squeeze a giant monkey figurehead inside his coat pocket.

One thing that annoys me about, say, Space Quest IV from Sierra On-Line is the way your character will frequently die searching for the next clue. Gilbert also hates this technique and believes players don't want to be whacked over the head every time they make a mistake. Thankfully, Guybrush is a pretty robust fellow. He cheerfully walks away from a massive explosion without so much as a scratch during a later section of the game. Players can therefore focus on the story and puzzles, not waste time saving the game in fear of potential danger.

If you do encounter any difficulties attempting to claim the prize of Big Whoop, US Gold's handy guidebook containing the complete solution costs a tenner.

It should be obvious by this stage that LeChuck's Revenge is something special. Striking visuals have become the hallmark of a good graphic adventure and LeChuck's Revenge is head and shoulders above the rest. Yeah, it maybe make-believe but the attention to detail is breathtaking. This lively production claims to have over 6.4 million pixels on show. From a myriad of lengthy planning meetings, the artwork and music were painstakingly fashioned to complement the storyline.

Programmers worked with a team of artists, animators and composers to make the story come to life. Scrolling panoramas and rich spot animation give the game a very distinctive look. This, coupled with refined film-like techniques and proportional character scaling, help to smoothly transport viewers into the illusion. For this part, Guybrush plays his role brilliantly when questioning other characters. The body shrugs and raised eyebrows, and other gestures are sheer perfection and significantly add to the immense entertainment value of this product. Not that the supporting cast haven't got a few neat moves of their own.

Attempting to improve the look of Monkey Island 2, the art studio tried a different approach to creating the numerous bits of background scenery. Prompted by the success that Sierra Online and Dynamix had from utilising scanning and video-frame-grabbing equipment to produce startling backdrops and sprites, the designers wanted to adopt a similar methodology on a trial basis. Sadly, it wasn't easy to implement at first. After mucking around with acrylics and various types of pencil, the artists eventually found a workable and effective procedure.

Once the scene had been drawn with coloured marker pens, they overlaid certain features with paint for added force and effect. Coloured pencils were used to sharpen any soft edges before the next step. The finished artwork was then directly scanned into their computers and touched up with graphics packages and proprietary software tools. Using this method, a single background took anywhere from an afternoon to three days to complete. Lead artist Steve Purcell made sure the overall look of both Monkey Island Games remained consistent. The end result, as I'm sure you will agree, was well worth the effort.

Not that the soundtrack's merely thrown in as an afterthought. If anything, more attention was fondly lavished on the composition and code than ever before. For this is the first game to have the spanking iMUSE to accompany it. That's Interactive Music and Sound Effects to you and me. In other words, the music score cunningly reacts to events that happen in the game to further enhance their impact. Thus, new sequences are invoked as the mood and situation of LeChuck's Revenge changes. Tunes follow the action with seamless ease thanks to the cooperation of programmer and composer. They determine how iMUSE will intelligently alter the raw musical data at the right time and place.

Origin is the main competitor to support and develop the concept of interactive music. However, those loud Texans prefer a louder more raucous sound, as heard in the PC incarnations of Wing Commander and Ultima VII. As you would expect, iMUSE also has dynamic supervision of sound effects for doors opening, creaky floorboards, birds chirping, piano playing, etc.

It's early days as far as the Amiga and digitised speech is still missing from the equation. Perhaps the crazy characters will speak in a CD-ROM adaption? Lucasfilm Games is already at the forefront of such enticing developments. Loom, the first CD-based 'talkie' game, uses the voices of actors instead of printing lines of text on the screen.

Thanks to a noticeable increase in awareness and sales, publishers are flooding the market with graphics adventures. In the confusion, it's difficult to choose an overall winner. Which one should you go for? Monkey Island 2 has genuine wit and oodles of charm. Fine tuned to perfection, everything is up-front for all to see, hear and read. The story alone should keep you gripped to the very last word. By the way, there's a big surprise at the end of play. Sworn to secrecy by the oath not to reveal 'Game Over' sequences, this is all I can say.

LeChuck's Revenge is truly a masterly mix of wacky humour and stunning images. I'm a massive fan of adventures and I can honestly say that they just don't come any better than this. Unless, that is, Guybrush makes a comeback in The Secret of Monkey Island 3. But, until then, this will do me nicely...

Once LeChuck's Revenge has been completed, admirers will soon be able to sample the largest and most complex game ever published by Lucasfilm Games. Featuring over 100 pieces of original hand-painted background art, Indiana Jones And The Fate Of Atlantis - not to be confused with the action game from US Gold - uses rotoscoping to make character appearance and movement realistic. It's also the second title to have iMUSE kickin' tunes. Based on choices made early in the game, players are led down three separate paths concentrating on puzzles, action or dialogue. 'This means that players can complete the game several times enjoying a new experience each time,' reckons producer Hal Barwood. 'It's really three games in one.'

'You have to have fun to make fun'
Tim Schafer

Before he became the world's first philosopher of video games, Tim Schafer helped with the programming, dialogue and design of LeChuck's Revenge. A keen player of Ballblaser on the Atari 800, he's now working on his own SCUMM game. Away from the office, he likes to play the banjo and fold paper into carnivorous reptiles. He's also allergic to mushrooms.

'We want our games to appeal to a wide audience, not just to people who are already computer savvy.'
Dave Grossman

After a brief career as a musician, T-shirt artist and teacher, Dave Grossman is now a project leader at Lucasfilm Games. He likes to read comic books in his underwear, eat things that aren't good for him and watch the work of Ray Harryhausen.

'LeChuck's Revenge is the only project where I can imagine animating characters in a spitting contest.'
Sean Turner

Drawing with a mouse is like drawing with a brick.
Sean Turner

Perfecting his animation skills at Hanna Barbera, Sean Turner joined the famous special division of Lucasfilm, working on everything from Ghostbusters 2 and Ghost to the three Indiana Jones moves. Surprisingly, Howard the Duck was his favourite project at Industrial Light & Magic because it required lots of animated effects. Turner is a great fan of the cartoon king, Chuck Jones.

'We are able to create effects not eaily achieved with traditional painting methods. It's easy to see why Monkey Island 2 is packed full of weird and whimsical animation action.'
Colette Michaud, Art Department Supervisor at Lucasfilm Games

'From the beginning of the game, I wanted the music to sound like what you'd hear coming out of a radio if you were walking down a street on a Caribbean Island'
Michael Land

'We just couldn't fit all the jokes into The Secret Of Monkey Island, so we had to create a sequel.'
Ron Gilbert

'I'm still trying to figure out how to get everything I want into an adventure game.'
Ron Gilbert

Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge logo Zero Mutt's Nuts

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge: out now from Lucasfilm/US Gold on Amiga £37.99

Hurrah! It's here at last. The long-awaited Amiga version of MONKEY ISLAND II hits the UK. AMAYA LOPEZ has waited several trillion years for ITV to show reruns of Planet Of The Apes so we gave her the simian classic to keep her quiet.

Okay, so you want to know the plot... but that would be telling, so here's a quick taster to get you going. Since Monkey Island 1, Guybrush has become a sorry fellow. Penniless and chickless, he's set for cardboard city until he hears through the piratevine about the treasure of Big Whoop. He's suddenly struck down (though sadly survives) by a wave of optimism and decides to embark on a new swashbuckling adventure. Trouble is he's stuck on Scabb Island where Largo laGrande has enforced an embargo. Guybrush needs sort out Largo and get off the island. But is LeChuck really dead? And how much root beer can he take? Play on to find out...

AmigaLucasfilm's wonderful sequel to The Secret Of Monkey Island was reviewed back in our February issue on PC. And what an absolute corker it was. Stunning graphics, excellent gameplay, a wildly inventive, humorous storyline and superb sound effects. Naturally I was incredibly excited at the prospect of reviewing the Amiga version, but also slightly perturbed. Would it attain the PC version's excellence or would it be a disk-swapping nightmare?

Well... let's have the bad news first: the Amiga version of the game comes on ELEVEN disks!!! That's even more than most Sierra adventures. But, funnily enough, it's not that much hassle. A lot of thought has gone into the swopping and it's certainly been minimised as much as possible. (Of course all your hard disk owners out there are laughing - "What's disk swopping?" you cry in your best child of Thatcher voice).

The graphics are brilliant - almost as impressive as the PC's - along with the detailed animation of the characters. In addition, the iMUSE system (er... American for Interactive Music and Sound Effects - the system which simultaneously combines background music and sound effects) has been retained, and certainly works a treat. The two difficulty levels are still there, boasting different puzzles and a fab combination of old and new characters. Of course in all honesty I'd rather marry the PC version, but the Amiga version comes a close second. Z

1. Guybrush Threepwood:
That's you. He is to pirates what Andi Peters is to Children's BBC. He also thinks he's so skill (after destroying LeChuck in The Secret Of Monkey Island) that he'll be able to uncover the treasure of Big Whoop, no probs. (Don't you just wish you were someone else?)
2. Governor Marley:
She used to be your girl, but has since got wise - she now lives in a huge mansion with a large private income (sigh) and endless parties.
3. Largo LaGrande:
The brown nose of the pirate world. He's as crawly bum-licky as they come - fawning around LeChuck and slagging him off behind his back. Pirates and loyalty, eh?
4. LeChuck:
The King of Pirates. A ghost with the charm of James Anderton at a gay rave. He's also got a far better memory than your average elephant and will never forget your unmentionable 'accident' with a bottle of root beer.
5. The Mojo:
The Russell Grant of Woodstick (only slightly better looking). There's nowt this woman can't predict - fans will recall her stunning debut in The Secret Of Monkey Island - and 'voodoo' is her middle name.
Scabb Island
A pirate hell-hole and home of LeChuck's right-hand man - the snivelling Largo LaGrande. You can visit the village, Woodtick, to check out Wally The Cartographer's or get a job as a chef. There's also a cemetery on the island and the formidable residence of Mrs Mojo - the Voodoo Queen.
Booty Island
Here you're on Governor Marley's territory, so it's house parties a-gogo. It's also a consumerist haven - you can get to do more shopping here than Emelda Marcus on a trolley dash through Dolcis. Visit the Antique Dealer, the Costume Shop and, if you're feeling macabre, Stan's Used Coffin Store. You could try winning your chick back, but be warned - you spell 'mong' in her books.
Dinky Island
No little toy cars here - just an old fossil called Herman Toothrot, a parrot and lots of very dense, explorable jungle with the odd dinosaur statue (fab).
Phatt Island
Sadly not a weight watcher's heaven, but an intellectual's breeding ground - it houses the library. People tend to drown their sorrows after wrestling with Milton Wordsworth and Jeffrey Archer.