Last Friday, it finally arrived. Back to Monkey Island. The newest installment in the popular graphic adventure saga came 31 years after its original creator’s final installment and brought with it a slew of hopes and expectations which must not have been easy to respect.
When one of these great classics comes to life, there is always a mixed feeling among fans. On the one hand, people want their favorite game back, gamers want Monkey Island; but on the other hand, it’s also a bit scary that this rebirth no longer relevant, because the original formula (or even its creators) do not know how to reinvent themselves and bring something derivative, even useless. I myself have been a victim of these reflections and, having finished the new Monkey Island, I must say that the innovation and the revolution they are not everything.
The return to Monkey Island is also literally The Return of Monkey Islandthe return of a great franchise that marked the first bars in the video game world of many. Almost from minute one, Monkey Island became the star name in graphic adventures and was a big influence on its entire genre for decades.
Graphic adventures, yes, have a “problem”. When we think of other types of video games, such as first-person shooters or platformers, there’s always different variants that come to mind, but with this type of titles (although there are different ones, like dream fall), our imagination is always populated by point and clickfor the Monkey Islands, Broken swords or Gabriel Knights, having led to a major creative impasse.
With Return to Monkey Island, one of the things that worried me was precisely that. Almost 30 years later, to return with the exact same refrain it was risky, but radically change things too. On the one hand, feeling that the title is nothing more than an overhaul might make it seem useless and old, but a sharp twist might rob it of its essence.
In the end, Ron Gilber and his team went with the former, saying that the classic graphical adventure isn’t old, and that its structure can work just fine in 2022 Monkey Island, either in the 90s or in the 1990s. 2022keep being herself and having the same pillars.
After finishing Ron Gilbert’s new graphic adventure (devouring it in a matter of days, I must say), any doubts I had about which direction to go are dispelled, and I think that’s the perfect way to bring a new monkey island. By deleting a few additions (especially in terms of accessibility, which the title takes over Thimbweed Park), Return to Monkey Island is pretty much business as usual. It doesn’t innovate, it doesn’t feel new and, of course, it doesn’t revolutionize. And that’s not only correct, but I think plays a lot in your favor.
People often talk about “What does X bring to the saga/genre?” when a new title comes in the middle, and I think that this approach is wrong. Yes, the ideal is that a title has something new to bring to the table, a rarely seen angle that can differentiate it from its peers, but in the end (unless it is a very revolutionary), which serves to make it stand out more. from the start, not to make it better or more memorable in the long run. Sure, groundbreaking titles can be created, but just because something is original and good doesn’t mean it’s going to be better, stand out, or have much influence.
Doing more of the same, as long as it’s right and in moderation, is not only worthwhile, but can lead us to have a refined and improved formula. Return to Monkey Island is living proof of that, and I have no doubt that it will end up being considered one of the pinnacle titles in graphic adventures. Without trying to innovate where it should not, while it has refined the strengths of the franchise, this strategy is the main reason for the good reception reserved for the new adventure of Guybrush Threepwood.
In the end, this does not mean that it is not necessary to experiment and seek new frontiers, far from it, but to do so simply out of fear of stagnation can be counterproductive. Occasionally, turn on safe ground is the best option, and dieting shouldn’t always be the only way to switch between the two. Today, it’s time to celebrate the spirit of Monkey Island, which is more alive than ever thanks to this episode.