Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge (PC)
So playing through Tales of Monkey Island made me curious about all the references to the games between it and Secret, having only finished the first game before. But while it has some clever puzzles and good writing, playing LeChuck's Revenge mostly made me think about how I'm not as big a fan of older point and click adventure games as I feel I should be. It's like they're intentionally obtuse to draw out their play time, or to get people to call up the hint line.
It's also very easy to get lost in these games, as they're less about solving puzzles and more about figuring out how the developers solved them. There's a puzzle at the end of Tales of Monkey Island where a bunch of tiny metal parrots will fly onto a sign and you need to catch them in a jar, but they fly away if you get too close. So, do you coat the sign in something sticky so they can't fly away after landing? Use a bad understanding of magnetism to catch them with a magnet? Set up a spring trap with the jar and attach it to the sign, so the lid snaps shut on them when they land on the sign? Finally Guybrush dropped a clue as to what method of catching the parrots the developers were thinking of, and I was able to take it from there. I mention this because LeChuck's Revenge doesn't have a hint system, so when I need a costume to get into some Mardi Gras party, I'm here wasting time trying to figure out how to dress Guybrush up as an organ grinder with an organ box and the monkey I kidnapped from the bar which was completely the wrong idea. So my game comes to a grinding hault, I go multiple sittings without accomplishing shit (incidentally, I'd given this game a shot years ago and this is exactly why I never finished it then), and it's hard to get a nudge in the right direction from GameFAQs without having the whole puzzle ruined, as well as any others you might accidentally read while trying to find the one you're stuck on (and I only discovered this site much later).
Another thing I liked about Tales is how it removed items from your inventory when they were no longer needed. I wound up GameFAQing the hell out of LeChuck's Revenge at the end because the game had dumped so much junk into the inventory that figuring out which items actually did anything at that point was a crapshoot, like if you're supposed to get the parts for the Voodoo doll by stabbing LeChuck with the broken bottle, or drawing something with the hypodermic needle, or tripping him with the string, or grabbing something off him with the fishing pole, or what, and LeChuck randomly teleporting you around was completely getting on my nerves enough as it was. Speaking of irritating, the sound. Yes, I love the music for the opening credits, but the rest of the game's sound actually kind of sucks. The music for the spitting contest made me want to knee the composer in the groin, and the bartender cleaning his mugs by hocking into them and squeaking them with a washcloth while a monkey very badly plays the piano has to be the most irritating thing I've heard in a game since the string puzzle with the hacking robot in Machinarium.
Incidentally, everyone moans about how nobody solved the "Wanted Poster" puzzle on their own, and maybe it was just that constant moaning that tipped me off that there was something about it, but I solved it right away.
And finally, the ending is going down as my biggest WTF of the year unless something even more batshit comes along in the next nine months. It pissed me off pretty bad at first, but after letting it stew for a bit I guess I'm more perplexed by how surreal it is than anything, although I wonder if it made more sense before Curse, Escape, and Tales came along.
I realize all I did was complain about this game, and yet I'm still giving this three Skitties. I'm conflicted between two and a half Skitties and three because I feel like it's not you, LeChuck's Revenge, it's me.
Bomberman Quest (GBC, E)
I swear I spent more time in this game dicking around menus and swapping inventory items than actually playing it. One thing I have never liked about Bomberman is that your only means of attack is both wildly innaccurate and just as likely to damage you as your enemy (for all the shit I give it, at least Blaster Master Boy gave you a gun). Exasperating that problem in this game is Bomberman is so damn slow without an item to up his speed equipped, it's maddening. And sometimes you need both buttons and your armor slots for something else, so have fun with Lead Shoes Bomberman, kids!
The Curse of Monkey Island (PC, E)
Curse actually surprised me a bit. Guybrush isn't the unlikeable ass he was in LeChuck's Revenge, the puzzles make more sense (though I admit I played on Normal mode, rather than Mega Monkey), the music isn't nearly as grating, and the voice acting is pretty good. What with the simple characters over the detailed backgrounds, the story emphasis of being a point-and-click adventure game, and being hilarious, Curse of Monkey Island is practically an interactive cartoon.
I know I've ragged on Guybrush's makeover in this game a lot, but I guess for the most part he looks okay, at least when viewed from the waist up because I can't stand his toothpick legs, and I don't know what's going on with his hands. But sometimes he looks like Egon Spengler as drawn by Seth MacFarlane, and his child form is an abomination. But the most alarming aspect of the cartoony tone is, well, after watching him utterly brutalize Guybrush in Tales and torture him with a Voodoo doll in LeChuck's Revenge, LeChuck struck me as a pretty vicious antagonist. Then I fire up this game, and he's is a freaking gag villain.
While the game has six acts, only two have much to them. A third is a callback to the Sword Master scenario from Monkey Island 1 where you have to go around collecting insults and comebacks from other pirates to use against the big one. You know, the worst fucking part of that game? Only this time instead of running around the Melee Island map, it's accompanied by a rather basic ship combat minigame. I guess upgrading your ship's weaponry is supposed to be a check on when you're ready to take on Rottingham, but it's not much help if I only win because nobody knows the comeback I'm trying to obtain. Another act is mostly an infodump explaining the ending of LeChuck's Revenge, followed by a puzzle that takes up a single room.
There's also one odd moment in the Normal mode where Goodsoup mentions sealing up one of the rooms, but said room is already open. I don't see why since the line doesn't make sense that way, the puzzle to open it isn't that hard, and you wouldn't be wasting time fiddling around long before you can even do anything in there. And forgive me for being spoiled by the run ability in Tales, but why does Guybrush walk so damn slow in this game?
I don't think I would have guessed that Guybrush had the same voice actor as he does in Tales because of how impractical it sounds (yeah, I know Charles Martinet been voicing Mario since 1996, but he's also been doing it constantly), but moreso because of how much higher his voice is here - I know he isn't exactly Barry White in Tales, but even after being told I still have a hard time believing it's the same guy, especially since I can believe Elaine and certainly LeChuck have the same actors. But you know what blew my mind even harder? There's this burly Scottish pirate who sounded a hell of a lot like Uncle Scrooge, and yet was different enough that I didn't think it could actually be Alan Young. But then I finished the game and sat through the credits, and lo and behold, it was him. I guess if you want a good Scottish accent, it's either him or Craig Ferguson.
And yes, I'm scoring Curse higher than LeChuck's Revenge. Piss off.
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge Special Edition (PC, E)
Towards the end of this version, there's a developer commentary where somebody mentions how they made Monkey Island 2 so long because they were suffering from short game remorse after Monkey Island 1. Which is odd, because according to my Steam stats the Monkey Island Special Edition took me five hours to plow through, while this took me less than three, which earned me the Speed Demon achievement. Though I'll admit I didn't go into the first MI:SE having just finished the original game, so I did have to blunder around a bit to remind myself what I was supposed to do. Even then, I doubt MI2 isn't so much longer than MI1 as it is more drawn out.
I never actually used it, obviously, but this version does have a hint system, so this might be the better version for newcomers if you can stand the visuals. Although Guybrush isn't as creepy as in MI:SE, a big part of the problem I have with the Monkey Island Special Editions is the artists trying to translate certain motions and poses that worked in the low res sprites into HD, which just looks wrong. This is particularly bad with LeChuck's barely controlled rocking, which conveyed "rotting, shambling husk" in the original game, but in the HD models it just looks like he's dry heaving.
Wreck-It Ralph (G)
Yeah, this was like Scott Pilgrim in that as a huge fan of retro games it was my obligation to see this film. It's cute and heartwarming and ultimately harmless, but it's not as awesome as it should have been. Okay, I was actually expecting Fix-It Felix to be a stuck-up ponce and the main antagonist of the film, so I was a bit surprised when he was more hopelessly naive than anything. But it requires a lot of suspension of disbelief to enjoy, mainly that the stuff about characters abandoning their games when they get unplugged only makes sense if Litwak's is the only arcade in the world and only one copy of each game is made. Otherwise, what happens if another copy of the same game is brought in to replace the broken one? Will there be clones of each character running around? And what if Litwak sells a functional, but unpopular cabinet to a collector? Will it be vacant when the new owner plugs it in?
As well as the creepy implication that Calhoun is traumatized by false memories of somebody who never actually existed, the movie tends to make up its rules as it goes along. Video game characters can visit other games, but if they die in any game but their own, they stay dead. Well I guess that makes sense, maybe the game's code doesn't know how to respawn them. And at least it's established as part of the movie's law right away. Except for glitches, which can't leave their games. Um, okay? Characters can reprogram the worlds. Wait, what? Vanellope crossing the line will reset the game to its default settings, and she won't be buggy anymore. Now you're just making shit up, movie. And maybe I'm just making excuses for not seeing such an obvious plot twist coming a mile away (in my defense, I was kind of distracted while watching this film), but there's a big Scooby Doo unmasking towards the end of the film, except the impression I got from an earlier scene was that this character had bitten it in another game. And then they don't bother explaining how he survived his accident, or what he was doing for thirty years.
Also, did anyone else notice Ralph has a Ladd Spencer haircut?