“Monkey Island” or the safe return of a cult video game saga

“Return to Monkey Island”, new opus of the cult video game “Monkey Island”, on September 20, 2022 in Paris, on a STRINGER portable game console

A cult series from the end of the 20th century, the video game “Monkey Island” marks its big comeback this week with the return to the controls of its creator, eager to complete the story of the apprentice pirate Guybrush Threepwood.

“I can’t guarantee that all the answers are in this game, or even if they will please the players,” laughs American Ron Gilbert, 58, in an interview with AFP.

“I always wanted to come back to this universe and do a sequel (…) This feeling of unfinished business is a bit our red thread and that of our hero”, he adds.

It is true that like the ghost pirate Lechuck, the main antagonist of the story, his saga seems to come back from the dead.

When the first opus was released in 1990, it was a major critical success: players praised its humor and its slightly wacky world of piracy. The adventure progresses as you solve puzzles and riddles, including collecting and combining various objects, and ends on a strange Caribbean island populated by monkeys.

– Fascinating storytelling –

Although it is not the first game from the LucasArts group, the video game subsidiary of director Georges Lucas’ company, it refines the formula of computer adventure games.

“It was a very innovative game at the time”, underlines Patrick Hellio, author of “The History of Point’n Click – The epic of the graphic adventure game”, which boasts of its “fascinating narration” and ” all the hilarious nods to pop culture”.

An equally successful sequel was released the following year and left players with a moment of suspense that has become memorable…and never resolved since.

Soon after, Mr. Gilbert leaves LucasArts and the series continues without its creator. Other shutters are born, the last in 2009, but know a more mitigated success.

With the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney in 2012 and the closure of LucasArts, “Monkey Island” disappeared from the video game landscape, as did the hope of fans to have a real end to their adventure.

Also, when Mr. Gilbert announces – on April 1st – that he is working on a new opus, the disbelief is great among the players.

In the greatest secrecy, and after six months of negotiations, his studio Terrible Toybox and the American publisher Devolver have reached an agreement with Disney to develop a new opus.

– Myth –

“We’ve been waiting for this for years and the expectations are high,” admits Mr. Hellio, adding that such a sequel, so long after, represents “a unique case” in the history of video games.

A pressure that weighs on the shoulders of the small team of 25 people who designed the game for two years.

“Inevitably, the memories of the players are tinged with nostalgia”, explains Dave Grossman, co-writer of the series who also worked on this episode, released Monday on computer and the Nintendo Switch console.

“The secret of Monkey Island has become a myth on its own and it’s very hard to tackle this mythology,” notes Mr. Gilbert. “We quickly said to ourselves that we would never be able to satisfy everyone, so we simply played the game that we were going to like.”

If the graphic style, more “cartoon” oriented, has made some teeth cringe, “Return to Monkey Island” retains the inventiveness and absurd humor that made it famous.

Revisiting past highlights of the series and its iconic characters, this return has a flavor of nostalgia for fans, with a modernized and simplified format for new players.

“We should do one again every ten or fifteen years, right?” jokes Mr. Grossman, smirking. Monkey Island may not have revealed all its secrets yet.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.