Is MI1 better than MI2 only for nostalgic reasons?

Continuing the discussion from Top 100 All-Time Adventure Games:

I have a precise position about this topic.

The games have different technical requirements and it translates in a different flavor, a different mood. And I prefer MI1’s mood.
As I stated elsewhere, MI2 puzzles are in the complex better, but I think that the best single puzzles are in MI1.
MI1 has the genius touch of insult sword fighting.
MI1 IS PIXEL ART, MI2 is hand-drawn art.
The story of MI1 is good, but very linear and naive. The story of MI2 is much more complex and intriguing, but maybe too much convoluted for me, and with a very strange finale on which I still don’t have a precise position today.
MI2 is much bigger, it supports VGA and has better sounds.

So, looking at the pros and cons of the two different games, I prefer MI1, but I have to say that they’re so different in their strict continuity, that it is difficult for me to compare them.

I like both games and I think they’re perfect as they are, as they are a sign of their times.

EDIT: Poll added according to @Nor_Treblig

What’s the best game in Monkey Island Original Series?

  • MI1
  • MI2
  • MI3a

0 voters


I’d like to deepen this aspect, since it may be worth it.

I know this will be a wall of text, sorry.

MI1 was designed in 1989 and came out in 1990. MI2 came out in 1991.

The fact that the games straddle the change of the decade is a meaningful coincidence: I’ve always considered MI1 as a product of the 80es, or to be precise, the latest, greatest product of 80es adventure game art, at its maximum peak.
Conversely, MI2 is one of the first adventure games of the 90es.

I had the feeling, back then, that Ron Gilbert and Lucasfilm/LucasArts were sending a message to the other devs: “OK guys, we definitely won. Just on the finish line of the 80es we have made the Latest And Greatest™ adventure game so far, MI1. Now let’s move on to the 90es! But, be prepared to fight: MI2 is the first game of the new era and it sets a new high benchmark! Try to make better, if you dare!”

It is incredible to me how two games that share (or, at least, overlap) the same development and have the same universe, characters and engine can be so different in style.
You can tell the great effort of improvement between the two games. You can tell more people and more money was involved in MI2. Even the name of the company changed between the two games!

I mean, VGA existed in 1990. But MI1 reached its peak with a “retro” 16 colors EGA graphics, and with the awesome pixel art composed by Mark Ferrari, pixel by pixel.
MI2, conversely, makes extensive use of the possibilities of the 256 colors, and was one of the first games with entirely scanned backgrounds, as far as I recall.
Do you remember our feeling, back then, when we used to see a 256 colors 320x200 GIF of a scanned real life picture? Man, that was THE FUTURE…
And the team was onto it. And onto the new sound technology: the Sound Blaster came out in those very months, it was needed for iMuse to work and for such astounding new music, and the debs didn’t miss the opportunity of taking advantage of it.

All these peculiar features and their historical meaning make the two games great AS THEY ARE.

But if you want to compare the two games and find out which one is better, well, every difference between them has its pro and its cons.

It is easy to say that that the same song is better in MIDI, with a SB sound and with iMuse than in AdLib.
And MI2 has nice tunes, but the main theme that is in our mind is the one from MI1.

It is easy to say that 256 colors are better than 16, and the hand made Steve PurcellPeter Chan’s drawings for MI2 are stunningly beautiful. But that’s not pixel art. That’s scanning of hand made drawings, downscaled to such a low res that everybody, back then, was feeling the need of a higher resolution.
MI1’s pixel Art by Mark Ferrari are an example of incredible mastery in the use of the pixels and the palettes.

Luckily who redrawn the 256 color version over Mark Ferrari’s EGA backgrounds did a very good job.
Too bad he was too lazy to make the sunset version of the dock on Melee, which is lacking in the VGA version.
It is not so automatic that adding colors makes better result… look at what they have done to Loom!

In MI1 the mood in 256 colors is preserved, and the overall polished aspect of the CD version of MI1 (256 colors, MIDI Roland soundtrack, MI2-style UI and inventory icons, live recorded SFX, newly drawn and scanned close-ups) makes the game almost perfect, and feels fresh even today, especially in the Ultimate Talkie Edition by @LogicDeLuxe.
The biggest hardware constraints you could feel in MI1 are, in my opinion, the number of colors and the awful AdLib sound. And they are wonderfully bypassed with the CD 1992 version.
In this version, MI1 has the same technical requirements of MI2 (even if the technique of development is different).

If you play any MI1 VGA version (the CD on or the ultimate talkie) you won’t feel any technical limitation, you won’t desire better.
Conversely, if you play MI2, you will immediately desire an higher resolution, since the backgrounds feel sometimes messy and fuzzy. And you know it is not Steve PurcellPeter Chan’s fault, but fault of the scanner technology and of 320x200.
But there’s nothing you can do for that. if you want to see the background in a beautiful high res, you should also redrawn ALL the characters, which would totally change the style and mood of the game.

Maybe this is the reason I think, even more modern and technologically advanced, MI2 feels today more dated, while MI1 is still fresh.

Well, just my 256 cents.

EDIT: corrected the name of the author of the back grounds. Thanks to @seguso


IMHO such decade boundaries are completely arbitrary.
But it’s true that technology developed at a fast pace, as did video game graphics.
MI2 was released just a year later and looked quite very different.

It’s also crazy to thing about all those “remastered” versions which came out just shortly after original game releases.
(e.g. MI1 EGA → VGA → CD with high quality music and new interface).
Also ports often looked completely different (and we have to thank FM-Towns for some of those VGA releases on PC).

For this reason I really love the EGA graphics of Zak btw.!

I agree to some extend. But you can make similar “messy” graphics completely digitally too and it can “fake” details which aren’t really there. The brain will imagine the higher resolution version (e.g. compare original graphics of FT with remastered one, IMHO the original is sooo much better and more “(fake) detailed”).

I definitely like the mood of MI1 and its clean graphics (EGA and also VGA).
Still MI2 graphics aren’t bad and in overall it just happens that I like MI2 better because it’s like MI1, but improved in most regards (IMHO). One super strong point of MI2 is its music btw.

Both games are incredibly good. My two favorite games ( adding Grim Fandango ), so it´s very difficult to choose between both, but I have to say that I prefer MI1 for different reasons, beyond nostalgia:

• Pixel art graphics are better than handmade and scanned graphics.
• The music is excellent. The best music of a video game ever (better than the second part, in my opinion).
• Insult fights.
• The feeling of being immersed in an island lost in the Caribbean, as is the case of Melee Island. In the second part of that essence was lost.

And other small details that I do not remember now, make MI1 the perfect game. :smirk:

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Absolutely. I feel it just as a nice and symbolic occurrence.

True. But, still, the MI2SE backgrounds are good. I don’t like very much MI1SE’s backgrounds, maybe because the first are made over Purcell’s drawings, while the latters were made over a VGA pixel art, which is a more “clean” art and is more difficult to remake it in hi-res without changing it a lot.

Ok, I agree with the only exception that the points you correctly underline aren’t enough for me to prefer MI2 :slight_smile:

This is the best description of that “mood” that I love in MI1 and I didn’t find in MI2.

Thank you, I would have needed another wall of text to express the same concept in such a good way.


Monkey Island 1 has stronger feelings, mood and atmosphere, because you are playing a boy who felt in love and you meet bunch of friends that goes with you.
It’s a great beginning and introduction to a new world. Very emotional, funny and adventurous. Its just something new and exciting. MI1 made you to play MI2. In my opinion, yes, MI1 is the best.

MI2 has been expanded enormously, graphics got better and Guybrush is older. Strong story, many various places, new friends and again, your love is back. Its the sequel that got much bigger support and attention, but its not what started this exciting adventure. MI2 got advantage to make it better, but MI1 has nostalgic feeling and I felt for the Guybrush boy character that sucked me deeply into his adventures. I also noticed, that if the music doesnt play all the time, you are focusing on the story much better.

(talking about classic version! SE version sucks)


Really? I wouldn’t say this. As I’ve written in the other thread, the story of MI2 is a “copy” of the story of Mi1: You have to become a mighty pirate (again), meet the Voodoo Lady (again), defeat LeChuck (again) and fall in love with Elaine (again). In addition the story arc of MI1 is more well-elaborated and more thrilling. And not to forget: In MI2 you have an open end that seems to make no sense at all. IMHO the story is one of the weak things in MI2.

I’ve always considered MI2 to be a better game and MI1 to be a better designed game.


That’s interesting. Could you (briefly) explain what do you mean with a “better game”? What is the difference to a “better designed” game? Isn’t a well-designed game automatically a better/good game? :slight_smile:

A difference I see between remasters of MI1SE/MI2SE and remasters of DOTT/FT is:
The former are more or less completely redrawn, so you either like the new art style or not.
The latter are more closely based on the original graphics with more details added to make use of the higher resolution. Still it looks less detailed than the original version.
While DOTT is less of a problem with its comic style graphics, FT with its more realistic look loses IMHO a lot of it’s look and details.

Wait, I’ve just got another good point for MI2: Its awesome ending.

I’m surprised so many rank MI1 higher than MI2, maybe you could add a poll?

This is also a point against MI2: The open ending. :wink:

But shouldn’t this make MI2 a good story too? Or is it such a bad copy?

Good point, another plus :slight_smile:

I understand your other points, also your mentioning of (lack of) music is interesting.

But it sounds strange talking about nostalgia when those two games are just 1…2 years apart… :slight_smile:

It’s not that bad, but it isn’t that good either. :slight_smile:

Definitely not. :slight_smile:

Mhmmm… interesting. But difficult to figure out what do you mean.
Let me guess, if MI2 is better than MI1 in spite of its worse game design, what’s its plus that makes it better? Maybe budget and technology improvements (in music and/or graphics), as I was suggesting?

I could agree MI1 design is slightly better in story, originality and structure. But what about puzzles? Isn’t it design? Don’t you think MI2 puzzles are better? Thank you.

Sure. Here it is:

What’s the best game in Monkey Island Original Series?


  • MI1
  • MI2
  • MI3a

0 voters

I’d put it in the first post so everyone who starts reading this thread sees it.


Done, sir!


I mostly jump to the last posts directly, because the topic often evolves during the discussion.