30. April 2022

It was April 1st a couple of weeks ago and given the current state of affairs nobody was really in the mood to make April Fools Jokes anymore. Even when games designer Ron Gilbert, who surprised everyone with Thimbleweed Park a few years ago, made a seemingly lame joke about a new Monkey Island adventure on April 1, nobody thought much of it.

Except it wasn’t a joke! Three days later the adventure gaming world was upside down after an official announcement confirmed with a short trailer that RETURN TO MONKEY ISLAND is in fact real. Apparently Ron Gilbert has been working together with Dave Grossmann, his old friend from the Lucasfilm Games days, for two years on the project in complete secrecy!

Not much is known yet about the game except the involvement of Gilbert and Grossmann, the return of the composer team of Michael Land, Peter McConnell and Clint Bajakian and Dominic Armato as the voice of Guybrush Threepwood –  but those are the good news that count the most. A couple of days ago new interviews on Adventure Gamer and The Verge with Ron Gilbert and David Grossmann revealed a few more details about how the project came about that sound very promising. Disney’s involvement seems to be minimal, they are just the right’s holder through the resurrected Lucasfilm Games brand and Devolver Digital will be publishing the game, while Ron Gilbert’s Terrible Toybox has actually produced the game with a still relatively small team.

LucasArts may be gone, but Lucasfilm Games will return!

Even more interestingly, the articles also show a few more screenshots that reveal more of the new graphics style. It’s not pixel graphics and not the hand-painted looks of the second and third installments, but something entirely new – a retro yet modern-looking blocky style that will ptobably be the subject of much discussion and complaining. No characters are shown yet, but especially the view of Melèe Island’s iconic main street looks definitively familiar and brings back fond memories. In any case, every Monkey Island installment so far had its very own graphics style and it’s entirely legitimate that the new game tries something different again.

Overy thirty years later and Monkey Island is still around.

Of course there’s no word on the story yet and that will probably remain secret until the game is released later this year. Ron Gilbert often said before that he was always hoping to pick up the story after the somewhat confusing ending of Le Chuck’s Revenge and confirmed in the interviews that this is still the case. But he also mentions that the world of the sequels will not be completely ignoried either, but isn’t quite ready to reveal more. So the four existing Monkey Island games and the Telltale series may still be somewhat relevant to the plot of Return to Monkey Island.

This is where it all started.

Coincidentially, last year I started playing the whole Monkey Island series slowly again from the beginning, starting with the remastered versions of the first two games for the first time on a bigger screen. It was a wonderful experience even though I know at least the first three games by heart – currently I’m struggling a bit with the fourth game which suffers somewhat from the less than perfect 3D graphics and a slightly dragging story, but it’s still Monkey Island and worth playing for the massive amounts of witty dialogue alone.

Also yet unplayed for me was the original 16-colour EGA version of Secret of Monkey Island that I only wanted to try out briefly but ended up playing a lot more since it looks so different to the more familiar 256-colour and Amiga versions.  I’m also looking forward to the five-part Tales of Monkey Island, which I only played once on a too-slow computer back when it was released. Maybe I’ll get through it before the new game is released, but these days I tend to play adventure games slowly to enjoy every bit of them!

Guybrush’s first adventure in 16 colours is something completely different.

The world is literally on fire these days, not only with the still ongoing pandemic but also with a war right on Europe’s doorsteps. It’s those small things like a new Monkey Island game that we need in these times to make us at least a little bit happy. Looking forward to the return of Guybrush, Elaine, LeChuck and undoubtetly a bunch of monkeys will help a lot getting through the rest of this year which has not started well at all.

Kategorie: Games, Lucasarts
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