Well, cripes! Tales of Monkey Island (2009) was the last instalment from this legendary series. And our favourite of the lot is the glorious Curse of Monkey Island (1997).
But now we’ve got a new one! Launching on 19th September 2022 (a day where nothing else happened at all), Return to Monkey Island is here!
And who’d have thought it!? It’s brilliant! A classic point-and-click adventure with series creator Ron Gilbert back at the helm for the first time since 1991’s Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge. Insert evil laugh here. Onward, bucko!
Yes, we Really, Really Wanted to Return to Monkey Island
LucasArts was responsible for the series in the early 1990s. However, this latest adventure is down to Ron Gilbert’s Terrible Toybox. It’s already responsible for the very well received Thimbleweed Park in 2017.
But it’s Monkey Island time! You can get it RIGHT NOW on Steam and Nintendo Switch (at a very reasonable price, too).
First though, it’s worth noting the strange build-up to Return to Monkey Island. Although a situation that’s, sadly, all too common. It went like this:
- Initial elation upon the April 2022 announcement.
- Temper tantrums from a sect of gamers who don’t like the game’s new art style.
- Ron Gilbert announcing he was stopping updating his blog due to ongoing abuse about the new art style.
- Further elation as the game neared its release.
- Launch and general elation, amongst many ongoing complaints from gamers who don’t like the art style.
If you don’t like the game’s looks then fine. That’s subjective and all that. But then to go and start doing the whole inane personal abuse/death threats crap is wince-inducingly tedious.
And we like the new art style. In fact, it looks incredible in many areas of the game. Gilbert had this to say on the matter.
“Return to Monkey Island may not be the art style you wanted or were expecting, but it’s the art style I wanted.”
We really can’t fathom how it’s caused this much trouble. It’s just an art style. The whole sorry saga has, once again, tainted the reputation of gamers and the nature of vitriolic online comments spaces.
Anyway, this was supposed to be a happy occasion and so we’re now focussing on celebrating the game. As, yes, it’s fantastic!
Pre-ordering Return to Monkey Island was totally worth it, too, as marketing man Stan (an expert in sales hustle) included COMPLETELY FREE horse armour with the game. Well, huzzah!
The plot of the game follows on immediately after the events of Monkey Island 2. And Dominic Armato returns to the role to voice our protagonist Guybrush Threepwood.
The game opens with Guybrush’s son Boybrush playing with his friend at a theme park, acting out his father’s adventures.
Guybrush decides to tell a tale of one of his adventures against the evil pirate LeChuck, with his goal to uncover the secret of the enigmatic Monkey Island. Yarr.
Swashbuckling pirate adventures follow in classic point-and-click fashion.
You’re left to guide Threepwood around various environments, solving puzzles, and engaging (through dialogue trees) with the various oddball locals you come across. Here’s a snippet of how it works, courtesy of IGN.
The Monkey Island games are very heavily dialogue driven, with the snappy, funny, witty dialogue trees being one of the most popular aspects of the series.
And, crucially, that’s in fantastic form across Return to Monkey Island.
There’s the trademark easy charm to proceedings, with Guybrush’s sardonic attitude, inattentiveness, and clumsiness contributing to much of the humour. But he’s joined by many new (and old) characters to make the adventure memorable.
Of particular note is time spent on LeChuck’s ship, where you get to hang out with a motley zombie crew as you swab the deck.
Gloriously, too, Murray the Skull returns! And he’s voiced again by the same voice actor Denny Delk. Another fantabulous little touch.
So, yes, there’s a sort of fan service going on with things like that.
But where Return to Monkey Island excels is its ability to mix nostalgia with an engaging, modern new adventure. It’s packed with popular new gameplay mechanics from this era of gaming, which were a tad stifling in the ’90s.
For example, there are dialogue tree options for more (or less) wordiness. Or you can hit the tab button and it’ll highlight areas Guybrush can interact with on each screen.
There’s even a tip book that helps you with some of the more cryptic puzzles. That can be handy if you want a helping hand, as opposed to the hours spent wandering around clueless until you figured something out (as we did decades ago in Curse of Monkey Island).
They’re all welcome additions, although we should imagine there’ll be gamers who complain about that making it “too easy” and not a “true gamer” experience and all that bollocks.
In fact, we’ve already seen a few YouTubers post videos about why they “hate” the game.
Again, we can’t understand how playing something as joyful and engaging as this can warrant such a negative reaction. But there we go.
Happy to conclude on a more positive note, anyway! On the whole, it’s a triumph. Most reviews have been glowing and around the 9/10 mark. We agree with that fully.
Return to Monkey Island is a glorious new entry to a beloved series. It’s one we don’t want to spoil with too many details on the plot and what happens.
Instead, if you like point-and-click games then this is one for your collection. It’s an uplifting, funny, and charming gem.
Return to Monkey Island’s Soundtrack
Yarr! We’ve long been a big fan of Monkey Island’s excellent soundtrack, which had an orchestral peak on 1997’s Curse of Monkey Island.
Return to Monkey Island’s soundtrack is a little different to that, but still excellent.
The work features classic themes from the previous games, updated with new flourishes by composers Peter McConnell, Michael Land, and Clint Bajakian.
Much of the soundtrack isn’t available online yet. And you’re better off just playing the game to experience it, but there are a few shining examples around.
If you’ve played the Monkey Island games, you’ll know how this works.
As you walk around adventuring, solving puzzles, and enjoying the laidback witty humour, you get all this glorious music humming away in the background.
It really makes for a relaxing and enjoyable experience, with the Caribbean influences and shimmering nature of it all. You can’t help but swoon for it. That’s one of the joys of gaming right there for you.
Anyway, a fantastic work (take our word for it!). And one to keep an eye out for when more of the compositions are made readily available.
Why There’s so Much Love for the Monkey Island Series
If you love the series, or want to find out more about it, we can highly recommend the excellent YouTube channel Ahoy.
This content creator is actually in Manchester! Which is nice, eh? As we live there, too, if you were wondering why we brought that up…
Yeah, so Ahoy gets to the nitty gritty in that video explaining the Monkey Island series, how it came to be, the technology involved, and its popularity.
Well worth a watch if you like your video game history documentaries.