MONKEY ISLAND 2: LECHUCK'S REVENGE / LucasArts / PC
In cinema, it's pretty rare for a sequel to be anywhere near as good as the original, much less to surpass it. Gaming is a different animal, though, and it's much more frequent here. Monkey Island 2 is a great example; not to say that the Secret of Monkey Island wasn't really good, but this game takes it from being a cute and fairly fun adventure game to something that makes me happy to be alive.
When Monkey Island 2 picks up, Guybrush is once again drifting, though apparently not destitute. We're not sure what happened with him and Elaine after the first game, but now he's come to Scabb Island to seek the legendary treasure Big Whoop. Unfortunately, local thug Largo Lagrande robs him of all his loot immediately and imposes a ban on anyone leaving the island, so we're going to have to cobble our way through using random items we pick up in typical adventure game style.
The game uses basically the same engine that the first did, but everything is enhanced. The Secret of Monkey Island's VGA version had some very nice moments as far as graphics go, but Monkey 2 surpasses it with scenes packed full of hand-drawn detail and some neat tricks like lighting effects that are beyond what was present in the first game. The music is also the same calypso groove style, but it employs the iMuse system, so there is a continuous soundtrack that shifts as you move about the screens and as different things happen, rather than the sporadic appearance of music in a mostly silent game as was the case with the first one.
The game is longer, and a little more challenging, provided you play it in Regular mode. There's a Lite mode, but I really advise against it - it axes steps from a lot of the more complex puzzles, and in doing so it prevents you from accessing various screens and areas of the game, so you're kind of getting a limited experience (it is also way, way, way too easy.) Regular mode sees you bopping back and forth between three different islands for most of the game, using things found on one to solve puzzles on the other, so the game is a little more complex than SOMI's rather straightforward and easy puzzles. That said, this game is very considerate about clues, and there's nothing random or really abstract - if you get stuck on something, when you see the solution, you'll be like, "Oh yeah, I would have thought of that if I had just been paying a little more attention to that item/area."
Not only do I think this is probably the best overall adventure game ever made, it is one of the best games period. Easily in my Top 10 of all time and I can't recommend it enough.
* Gameplay Video