What I like and dislike about Return to Monkey Island as an adventure game fan

What I like and dislike about Return to Monkey Island as an adventure game fan

Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman return to Monkey Island. Absolutely dedicated or cautiously skeptical, a legion of gamers in their late 30s and early 50s are already counting the hours, days and minutes to get their hands on a game that, more than a game, promises to be a generational event.

In the summer of 90, a brand new Tulip Computers PC 286 I arrive at home. With it came two games that would soon become, for me and so many others, an absolute obsession. Of course I’m talking about the graphic adventures from Lucas Film Games: The Secret of Monkey Island and Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. The golden age of graphic adventures lasted half a breath, barely five years. Fortunately, this left time for the luxury trident formed by Ron Gilbert, David Grossman Yes Tim Shafer (there was little room for Mbappé), signed two legendary titles, the first two parts of the adventures of Guybrush Threepwoodeternal apprentice pirate.

The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revengethey were The Godfather I and II of the genre, but as happened with Coppola’s trilogy, the third opus (The Curse of Monkey Island), although good, would not fully meet the expectations of the community in case of regular and late arrival. It’s true that this episode had a lot of “esques”: “it’s more in pixel art”, “it’s that Gilbert doesn’t direct it anymore”, “it’s that now what sucks is the Earthquake II”… Then there would be the dismal 3D delivery and tank-like control, and we all remember what happened, don’t we? The thing is, graphical adventures scored a before and after for the story, whether it’s because of all the representatives who are very fit seen online launched between the 80s and 90s or by those more punctual but just as brilliant by Lucas herself. In recent years the truth is that absolutely all genres are experiencing a large number of deliveries due to the fact that the industry is changing and expanding, which has benefited this type of game that has passed the beginning of the two thousand very difficult . Recently we have seen games as powerful as Thimbweed Parkin fact, clearly paying homage to the style of manic mansion. However, we were missing the Monkey Island saga. A few days ago, we had what we needed: the announcement of Back to Monkey Island.

20 years later, on Monkey Island

It was the year 2016 when a tweet written by Ron Gilbert (expressly addressed to Disney) touched the hearts of many of us. Gilbert asked the entertainment giant, since they weren’t going to do anything with them, to give him the licenses for Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion. At the time, the request seemed anything but successful..

Gilbert, at the helm of his company terrible toy box, was immersed in the development of this Thimbleweed Park which I told you about a few lines above. A crowdfunded vintage graphic adventure that promised to take us back in time to the early 90s, giving us all the good of the era and nothing bad. The game was a hit with veteran gamers, but a rushed ending (likely due to a lack of budget) and somewhat uneven puzzle design caused we would like very much but that some of the most demanding players got their noses twisted a bit. True, Gilbert, who teamed up with Gary Winnick for the occasion, promised a Maniac Mansion tribute, and it would be fair to say he delivered, but the community had the first two Monkey Island etched into his subconscious. a lot of demandmay be too much.

Almost six years had passed since Gilbert’s tweet at Disney until last April 1 (the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of our April Fools’ Day), when Gilbert himself, on his personal blog, announced that, even though he didn’t like April Fools very much, was going to develop a new Monkey Island. It was just that, two sentences. Not a picture, not a video. It looked like a joke more or less heavy which also did not make too much noise in the networks. Three days later, things would change, and a lot…

On April 4, still on his blog, Gilbert posted a teaser video hosted on Devolver Digital’s YouTube account announcing the return of the franchise, and for this year! We see a ghost pirate playing the violin who is visited by the murray skullwho after referring to Gilbert himself, is thrown overboard by the pirate, put the first joke on the table and an important statement of intent: the new game, titled with an evocative return to Monkey Island, will be a direct continuation of the first two installments, so if there was one, the franchise canon would ignore the sequels which have not left Gilbert’s hands. The skull of The Curse of Monkey Island comes out, but is thrown into the water: it’s a bit ambiguous, does this mean that with it all hope of seeing characters or situations from the third and fourth episodes also passes? overboard ? Although there were also people who also interpreted it as “Okay, there’s Murray.” There are things on Gilbert’s mind beyond the first two games.”

What I like and dislike about Return to Monkey Island as an adventure game fan

In fact, we don’t have much information about this new game, beyond the graphic style shown in the video, the fact that it is the “real” third installment of the franchise and the certainty that Dominic Armato will voice Guybrush, but what? what can we expect? Let’s start with the vault: we can rest easy when it comes to music, since three legends from the golden age of “Casa Lucas” have been confirmed: Michael Earth, Peter McConnell Yes Clint Bajakian. And the truth is, while you can’t ask for less, the teaser looks luxurious.

It doesn’t appear that any of the old classic LucasArts names are involved.Regarding the graphic look, until we see more material, it will be hard to say. It doesn’t sound like any of the classic names of old LucasArts will be involved, and the bitter memory of the graphics of the special editions of the first two “Monkeys” (especially in the case of the first) published in 2009 and 2010, instills a certain uncertainty in the players. There is a guarantee, yes, artistically everything comes from the hand of Rex Crowdfunding (which has in its credits games as powerful as little big planet) and the truth is that you might like the teaser more or less, but it has a lot of personality.

What I like and dislike about Return to Monkey Island as an adventure game fan

What we are 100% sure of is that Gilbert does not come alone to take charge of the project, but rather that he does so accompanied by the essentials. David Grossman, the calm, witty yin that balances Gilbert’s charismatic, ample yang. With that, we have two of the three responsible for the legendary games in the franchise (Tim Schafer must be busy enough with the development of future projects after the recent release Psychonauts 2 in his company Double Fine).

How I wish Return to Monkey Island was

What I like and dislike about Return to Monkey Island as an adventure game fan

Let’s be honest, if the main attraction of a new Monkey Island is the morbid nostalgia and the itch of knowing that Gilbert is again in charge of the project, the graphic part frustrates me. If there was one good thing about Thimbleweed Park, it was its awesome pixel art, the work of legendary Mark Ferrari and new Catalan genius Octavi Navarro. In the recently released teaser, the graphics aren’t bad, but it seems clear that these are 2D animated graphics and not discrete assets on a sprite sheet. We didn’t see much either, so you can’t put the band-aid before the wound, however, if any game needed some nice and neat pixel art, it was this “Part III of Monkey Island “. Yes, the development would have been much more expensive in terms of time and resources, but I hope the decision was artistic and not just commercial.

As for the game itself, recently Noah Falstein, another big name in the LucasFilms Games (later LucasArts) classics, claimed to have tested the game for months and said he was happy to see that it was released. was finally a reality, but he didn’t include an iota of hype in his post. It doesn’t mean anything either, of course, but it’s not something that particularly reassures me.

What I like and dislike about Return to Monkey Island as an adventure game fan

The thing is, as the years passed and the players got older, we became institutionalized, like Brooks in Life imprisonment. we got comfortable, we want everything for yesterday and at the door of our house. Can this new delivery live up to the first two? There is the possibility? The more than thirty years that have passed since we first played these games must be rated yes or yes. At Ron Gilbert too.

His temperament will, no doubt, be unbeatable, but given that Gilbert takes care of the engine, the puzzles, the story… Maybe they are too many details to take into account, and more so in the time of alpha and early access versions, where there is not much time to stop and look at the landscape, the development context, something whose graphic adventures need to breathe.

What I like and dislike about Return to Monkey Island as an adventure game fan

Personally, I want the game to work. I need it to be okay. i need it to be a The Godfather Part IIIsomething different, anachronistic, but that doesn’t detract from the brand (as did the old and last fourth installment, the deservedly forgotten Escape from Monkey Island), let it be a worthy endpoint, a heroic and courageous work that tries to pay homage to itself knowing that it has much more past than future, that many of the original actors are no longer with us and that a large part of the audience no longer sees long films about the Italian Mafia. I, at least at this point, need to believe…

What I like and dislike about Return to Monkey Island as an adventure game fan

But although I am skeptical about certain things, or rather cautious, there is something that should make us hope that all this will materialize: and it is precisely the fact that Gilbert and Grosman they again form a couple of artists and workers. With Grossman focused on balancing the humorous tone of the game, Gilbert will be able to focus more on the general direction of the game, as well as managing the puzzles. In these times of cynical skepticism, nihilism, bigots, thugs and thin skins, Return to Monkey Island isn’t going to be easy, but for many it will be the last chance to be young again for a few hours.

If nostalgia is the attempt go back to the ghost of where you were happy, Monkey Island grabs a summertime snack at your grandparents’ house while Induráin wins another TV Tour. The only thing left to know is whether the sandwich, on this occasion, is Nocilla or Nutella, which, yes, they are similar, but they are not the same.

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