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On Monkey Island being cartoonish

posted by Kroms on - last edited - Viewed by 503 users

I've noticed a lot of posters have been claiming that Monkey Island is not cartoonish. That maybe the third one is, but the real, Ron Gilbert ones are not. So I created this thread (yes, a full thread, to draw your attention).

This is a scene from Monkey Island 2. I want you to see how Guybrush escapes LeChuck's fortress. Specifically, the point at which Guybrush lights a match.

Very realistic, isn't it?

Monkey Island is a cartoon, and always has been. And for those of you about to mention SMI's close-ups: [quote=Ron Gilbert] I was always bothered by [the] close-ups. While they were great art, I never felt they matched the style of the rest of the game. Not sure how I feel about them 20 years later[/quote].

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  • I partly agree, but not completely.

    The first two Monkey Island games had cartoony elements, like most VGA adventure games.
    But they do have more realistic graphics than the later installments.

    I would say the same for the Leisure Suit Larry games... they're all cartoony, but the first three are less so than the other ones.

    [quote="Ron Gilbert"]I was always bothered by [the] close-ups. While they were great art, I never felt they matched the style of the rest of the game. Not sure how I feel about them 20 years later[/quote]
    Whoah, I'm glad they still made it into the game! I absolutely love the closeups in that game!

  • Why are you over thinking it so much

  • There's one thing to consider; even with drawn art, there are degrees of realism and cartoony, it's not a stark black & white contrast. Wander over to a comic book shop and pick up a random selection and you'll see degrees that vary from something like Dilbert, right the way up to comics that have beautifully hand-painted realistic art, and everything in between.

    To say that the only consideration is cartoony or not cartoony is to look at things in a two dimensional way, but the truth of the matter is that, like comic books, Monkey Island was never really realistic or cartoony, it was always somewhere in between. If you want a cartoony adventure, look at Day of the Tentacle, then compare Day of the Tentacle with The secret of Monkey Island and Lechuck's Revenge. If you do that, the differences become rather obvious.

    So no, the first two Monkey Island games were not cartoony, to simply imply the one end of the spectrum, because in doing that we might as well say that they were as cartoony as Day of the Tentacle (which they're not). We also can't say they're real-as-life art either, because that's just as absurd and they're obviously not.

    And for what it's wroth, there were parts of Lechuck's Revenge which were just as vibrant as Tales of Monkey Island. And speaking of Tales of Monkey Island, do I find that really cartoony? No, not really. It is perhaps a touch more toward cartoony than Lechuck's Revenge was, but not so much. And I don't feel that Tales of Monkey Island is nearly as cartoony as Curse of Monkey Island.

    Whereas Curse is nearer the Day of the Tentacle end of the cartoony scale, I think that Tales of Monkey Island actually leans toward the Lechuck's Revenge style. But that's just my opinion.

  • Surely they were as cartoony as they could get in those days? I always saw them that way and loved them for it.

  • When my friend loaned me his copy of Monkey Island 2, his pitch to me was "its like playing a cartoon or something!"

    That said, I do like that what sets the Monkey Island games apart from a lot of other comedy adventure games is that it has a serious tone to it along with the jokes. The characters more often than not seem to believe that they're in a serious world, doing important things, even if there are wisecracks and grog machines everywhere. When LeChuck shows up in the underground tunnels, it's scary! (Or was to me!) Contrast that with Sam & Max, where everyone with few exceptions is in on the fact that they're all inside a giant joke.

    That doesn't mean that stylistically it doesn't have a little cartoon to it! For instance:

    MI2_GuybrushThreepwood.png
    MI2_GuybrushDog.png

  • all serialized adventure games of the late 80s go through the same stages:

    * pixelated blobs (kq1,2, MI1,larry1-3)
    * better looking pixelated blobs (MI2,KQ3,4)
    *trying hard to look realistic (KQ5,6, Larry5,6)
    *realizing realism sucks and taking a whole new approach, make it cartoony (Larry7, KQ7,MI3,Discworld2)
    *realizing that even tho those games looked great cartoony, they are way too hard and expensive to produce that way, so they turn to 3d or just give up all together. (Larry8,KQ8,Discworld_Noir,MI4)

  • @Jake said: When my friend loaned me his copy of Monkey Island 2, his pitch to me was "its like playing a cartoon or something!"

    That said, I do like that what sets the Monkey Island games apart from a lot of other comedy adventure games is that it has a serious tone to it along with the jokes. The characters more often than not seem to believe that they're in a serious world, doing important things, even if there are wisecracks and grog machines everywhere. When LeChuck shows up in the underground tunnels, it's scary! (Or was to me!) Contrast that with Sam & Max, where everyone with few exceptions is in on the fact that they're all inside a giant joke.


    I fully agree! This is what sets the first two Monkey Island games apart from the rest - they have this 'dark' undertone to them... something I've always missed ever since. They had a bit more atmosphere because of this, I think.

    @Jake said: Surely they were as cartoony as they could get in those days? I always saw them that way and loved them for it.
    Maniac Mansion was much more cartoony, even though it has far more simplistic graphics.

  • @Armakuni said: I fully agree! This is what sets the first two Monkey Island games apart from the rest - they have this 'dark' undertone to them... something I've always missed ever since. They had a bit more atmosphere because of this, I think.



    I think all the games had it to a certain degree -- as 3 got towards its finale they started bringing it back in a way that made me happy, and/but no matter what story he's in, Guybrush is going to be taking it more seriously than most comedy game protagonists -- but it was for sure ingrained in the stories of 1 and 2 more.

  • @Jake's post with the sprites.

    That's what I was trying to get at too, Monkey Island (the first two) did have more serious tones to them, and that's what allowed them to walk the line between seriousness and just being a cartoon, outright. And that's even detailed in those sprites, beautifully.

    And actually, that spot between cartoony and a more serious/realistic approach is what I like best, and I feel that Tales of Monkey Island does well to capture that point too. It isn't cartoony in the way that Sam & Max (old and new), Day of the Tentacle, and so on are, it's got a more serious theme, but it's cartoony in its own way.

    Monkey Island isn't an obvious kind of cartoony, it's like the smart kid cartoons of old, like Mysterious Cities of Gold and Ulysses 31.

    If that makes any sense at all.

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