I love Lucasarts' graphic adventures. I played them all back in the 90s: Indy, Day of the Tentacle, and my favorite: Monkey Island. But even putting personal taste aside, Monkey Island 2 defines what smart, awesome iPad gaming should be.
Lucasarts' graphic adventures are legendary. The humor, the graphics, the animation, the puzzles... whoever plays them falls in love with the art, the dialogue, the characters, the music, and everything else. The Monkey Island series are considered to be the epitome of the genre. It tells the story of one of the best game anti-heroes ever: Guybrush Threepwood. His objective in the first game is to become a pirate and find the Secret of Monkey Island. He doesn't find it, but lots of things happen instead. In Monkey Island 2, he is on to find the biggest treasure in the Caribbean: Big Whoop. Instead, he will find one of the best endings I can remember in any game.
New art and music
The Monkey Island 2 Special Edition team did an amazing job, from top to bottom. While the first had some problems with the user interface (more on this later), this one is pure joy to play. Sure, they missed out the opening title scene—which I loved in the original—but the rest is a flawless rendition of a classic. The art, the music, the animation, the extra content, the attention to detail... everything in its production feels like a real game. I wish all iPad games had this quality.
Like Monkey Island Special Edition for iPhone, MI2 also has two modes. You can play in classic mode—which is an exact reproduction of the old game—or in the new special edition mode, set by default. To change between modes you only have to swipe two fingers across the screen.
The special edition mode Monkey Island 2 is much better and detailed than Monkey Island 1 for iPhone, thanks to the higher resolution available in the iPad. It captures all the charm and rich color of the original game, with every single detail of every scene. The animation is great too. Instead of using sprites for the characters, the game seems to implement a new 2D animation engine that reminds me of puppetry. The effect is great.
The game also maintains iMuse, an interactive music system that mixes tracks dynamically to fade between soundtrack themes. In the special edition, the quality of the samples and the music is great. The voice work is really good too, and you can use it on the classic mode as well.
The first time I saw an iPhone, I instantly wanted Lucasarts to re-release all their classics for it: These games were made for touch control. Sadly, the first Monkey Island 1 for iPhone didn't implement direct touch control. It required you to drag the cursor on the screen—just like you would do with the mouse on the PC, Mac, or Amiga—and then use commands which were displayed in a window. As a result, it took some time to get used to the awkward control scheme, detracting from the overall experience.