An in-game hint system has been added to help soften the difficulty, although I was far too proud to use it until I'd already completed the game. For the most part it works well, unravelling each situation with increasingly direct solutions, but occasionally it stumbles or outright fails to detail the necessary specifics of a puzzle. It might tell you to trap the rat, for instance, but it never seems to bother telling you that you'll need a stick, a piece of string and a third item I'll intentionally not mention so there's no risk of me accidentally spoiling the solution. Still, there's always the Internet if you're stuck for a solution - people have had almost twenty years to write FAQs, after all.
Just in case I haven't made myself crystal clear: Monkey Island 2 is an absolutely fantastic game and you should definitely play it. This edition also manages to fiddle with the underlying SCUMM engine and trim out the pauses after every line of dialogue, which turned the delivery of the original Monkey Island: special edition into a stilted mess. Which is nice.
Still, there are some very noticeable instances of the update dropping the ball. Perhaps the most noticeable mishap is the absence of the iMUSE audio engine in the 360 version of the game, which was originally developed by LucasArts to handle seamless transitions of background music. This flaw might only apply to the classic mode - like the special edition of Monkey Island, you can switch between the new fangled special edition and the original graphics on the fly - but will prove a little bit frustrating for anyone looking for an authentic reproduction of one of the all-time greats.
I'm also a bit frustrated by LucasArts' decision to cut out the game's opening credits, which features Guybrush chasing off some dancing monkeys and the only part of the game where you hear the theme tune of the original Monkey Island. It's a minor complaint, granted, but it's still a bit annoying for anyone who permanently views the original with warm, comforting and sacred nostalgia.
Another promised highlight was hours of audio commentary from Ron Gilbert, Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer, though I don't think much more than 45 minutes found its way into the game. What has been included is brilliant - although there's a lengthy discussion about how important iMUSE is, which is a bit ironic - and manages to be both in-depth and nostalgic, but the game's way of prompting you about commentary can be a little unwieldy.
Admittedly, these omissions don't detract too much from the game, but it's still a shame to see LucasArts fail to incorporate them into their special edition. Monkey Island 2 is a sacred property to many - me included - and we expect the game to be treated with an appropriate amount of respect. It isn't.
The base experience of Monkey Island 2 is still as sharp as ever, though, with some of the wittiest dialogue and intelligent puzzles ever seen in an adventure game. It's just a shame the "special edition" part is a bit of a letdown - it's more of an average 2-disc edition than a deluxe Criterion version.