The game's story centers on the wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood. After defeating ghost pirate LeChuck in The Secret of Monkey Island, little is known of what happened between Guybrush Threepwood and Elaine Marley. The sequel involves Guybrush's attempts to both find the mysterious treasure, Big Whoop, and win back Elaine's love.
The development team for the game was largely the same as for the first game in the series. The project was lead by Ron Gilbert, and he was once more joined by Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman. LeChuck's Revenge is considered by critics to be among the best of LucasArts' adventure games. Despite its popularity, its ambiguous and surrealistic ending drew criticism.
The game was also the first adventure game that offered the player two levels of puzzle difficulty. In some versions, before starting the game, the player is prompted to choose between regular version and "Monkey 2 Lite", a relatively stripped-down experience that bypasses many puzzles entirely. On the back of the game's packaging it is (jokingly) stated that this mode is intended for video game reviewers. This choice of difficulty returned in The Curse of Monkey Island, the third game in the series. That games's alternative option is called "Mega-Monkey", and is the opposite of "Monkey 2 Lite", offering some additional puzzles, dialog, and items over the normal game.
Guybrush's story begins with him talking to two pirates and telling them about the time he defeated LeChuck. He further tells them that he's looking for the treasure of "Big Whoop", and for a ship to take him there. The pirates tell Guybrush that Largo LaGrande, LeChuck's ex-henchman, has placed an embargo on the island. Guybrush, with the voodoo-doll that Voodoo Lady gives him, defeats Largo. However, in trying to prove that he was the one who killed LeChuck, Guybrush makes the mistake of showing Largo that he has LeChuck's beard. Largo steals the beard and uses it to resurrect his old patron. After the Voodoo Lady tells Guybrush that "the only way to stop LeChuck now lies only in the secret of Big Whoop", Guybrush continues his quest in search of this treasure.
After a lengthy quest involving everything from library research to a spitting contest, Guybrush is able to reconstruct the long-hidden map of Dinky Island, pinpointing the location of Big Whoop. He loses the map to LeChuck, but lands on Dinky anyway, where he discovers Herman Toothrot teaching philosophy. Herman is typically unhelpful, but his parrot remembers the conversation between the sailors who originally discovered Big Whoop and guides Guybrush to the treasure's burial site in exchange for crackers. Guybrush excavates the site and lowers himself into the ground on a rope.
At this point, we come back to the scene where we saw in the overture, Elaine and Guybrush talking. Unfortunately for Guybrush, his rope snaps and he falls into a series of artificial tunnels. LeChuck confronts Guybrush, claiming to be the mighty pirate's brother, and stalks him through the tunnels, tormenting him with a voodoo doll. Running from LeChuck, Guybrush makes a number of surprising (more so for us than him) discoveries, including the skeletal remains of his parents, an elevator to Mêlée Island, and the infrastructure for an amusement park.
By taking advantage of his surroundings, Guybrush is able to construct a voodoo doll of LeChuck, and maims the zombie pirate. LeChuck begs Guybrush to take his mask off; Guybrush acquiesces, revealing the face of his brother, "Chuckie". The reunion of the two "brothers" is interrupted by a man in brown coveralls, not unlike the delivery crew in Acts II and III, telling them that kids are not allowed "down here." The two brothers, now both appearing as children, exit the tunnels together and meet their parents aboveground in the "Big Whoop" amusement park. As the family leaves to ride the Madly Rotating Buccaneer, Chuckie turns towards the screen and grins, voodoo magic playing over his eyes. The last in-game screen shows Elaine standing outside Big Whoop excavation site, wondering, "What could be keeping Guybrush? I hope LeChuck hasn't put some sort of SPELL over him .... "
The project leader and designer was Ron Gilbert. The development team for the game was largely the same as for The Secret of Monkey Island, and Gilbert was once more joined by Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman. Gilbert parted ways with LucasArts after Monkey Island 2, while Grossman would go on to co-design Day of the Tentacle. Schafer's future projects for LucasArts would include Full Throttle and Grim Fandango.
According to Ron Gilbert, the Monkey Island series was partially inspired by the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Monkey Island 2 features a number of tributes to it, particularly a scene with a guard dog in a prison being lured by a bone and Disneyland style underground tunnels and "E tickets" in the closing scenes. An even greater influence, however, was the 1988 book On Stranger Tides, by Tim Powers.
The game was released on floppy disks for the PC (with VGA graphics), Macintosh and Amiga (with standard 32-color graphics) in 1991, and was later included on a CD-ROM compilation of Monkey Island games called The Monkey Island Bounty Pack. Plans to release Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge for the Sega CD were scrapped after the Sega CD edition of The Secret of Monkey Island did not sell well. In 1994, the game was released on the FM Towns, the last title LucasArts ever published on that system. The game's graphic interface would later be adapted for the CD-ROM release of The Secret of Monkey Island.
Lucas' Star Wars films are also referenced in the last part of the game: LeChuck tells Guybrush that he is his brother, and later, when he is lying on the ground, severely wounded, he asks him to take off his mask. Both are parodies of well-known scenes from the original trilogy.
Similar to The Secret of Monkey Island, the game contains a faux-death easter egg. Guybrush can supposedly die by being lowered into a pit of acid. This results in a logical impossibility since, as we are then reminded, he is relating the story to Elaine in the past tense. Elaine points out this paradox and Guybrush backtracks, subsequently bringing the player back to the beginning of the acid pit scene. A similar technique was used later in Full Throttle and eventually years later in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
The two pirates Guybrush speaks with around the campfire on Scabb Island are named "Bart" and "Fink," when said together, is the same as the Joel and Ethan Coen's film Barton Fink.
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge was rated highly for several reasons. The game is considered user friendly as it has a "lite" mode. This allowed beginners to play the game at an easier setting. The overall difficulty of both modes is also considered to be good. The redesign in controls, such as the fewer verbs and graphical inventory were rated well as increasing the game's ease of use.
Music in Monkey Island 2 was noted for its use of the iMUSE system. Reviewers noted that for the first time the sound is an integral part of the atmosphere. Graphically, the game was considered an improvement over its predecessor, with reviewers very impressed.
It's also noted by critics that the developers of Monkey Island 2 made using the 11 floppy disks the game came on relatively smooth, but also noted that installing the game on a hard drive is recommended.
LucasArts fansite "Mix 'n' Mojo" announced that a speech modification was being worked on.