One thing I've noticed about you is that you're the sort of person that will pick out annoyances that most people consider fairly minor or perhaps don't even think about, and then you dwell on them and let them eat at you.
First off, LeChuck. Yes, he's less menacing, and that's to be expected with the shift to a more cartoon style. I don't think that means that he's no longer menacing at all, though. Consider the opening. To me, LeChuck has absolutely returned to form, 1. attempting to force Elaine to marry him, as in Secret, and 2. making use of a specially prepared voodoo artifact in order to achieve his goal, as in MI2. When Guybrush shows up, LeChuck attempts to kill him outright, which isn't something we see often from LeChuck. Yes, the screaming chair idea and the dimension of infinite pain things were menacing in their own right, but the acid pit contraption and voodoo doll were also a lot less direct than just killing him outright with a sword, and doing it in front of Elaine makes it that much more ruthless (see Tales). Yes, the Carnival of the Damned sort of hurt his credibility a bit in the end, but his early appearances in the game were classic LeChuck to me.
Now, look at him in Escape. His evil plan is promising good times and free Grog to the inhabitants of Melee Island. When he has Guybrush right in the palm of his hand and could easily kill him, he instead listens to Ozzie and strands him "in an inescapable, faraway place, where he can't do any harm", except he screws it up and strands him on an island that he's not only escaped from before, but also one that's right on top of a key component of their plans. To me, LeChuck in Escape is the embodiment of bumbling incompetence. There's absolutely no comparison to him in Curse.
As for Murray, if you don't like him, you can blame audience testing. He was only supposed to be in that first cutscene outside LeChuck's ship, but the response was so positive, he was thrown in the game in a few more places. And hell, he's more menacing than Bob, LeChuck's right hand man. At least Murray embraces his lot in life for the most part, instead of having to be bullied into service.
Then there's Plunder Island. I wouldn't call it much less piratey than an island where it's Mardi Gras all the time. Yes, the cabana boy and the theater are steps in the wrong direction, but to me, the jungle full of snakes and quicksand, the shipwreck in the swamp, the moonlit cove, the chicken restaurant with a skeletal patron and maggot-infested food, and the barber shop with blood on the smocks and floor are all plenty piratey to me. As for Kenny Falmouth, all pirates have to start out somewhere. For all we know, the kid is the illegitimate son of a pirate who had a one night stand with a wench on Scabb Island, and given what we've seen of him so far, I'd say he's going to grow up into a fine pirate.
Then there's the crew. All of them have stories of their piratey pasts. Yes, they're all a bit incompetent, but no more so than "victim of society" Otis and "afraid of parrots" Meathook, and if you'll recall, once they set out to sea, Guybrush's Sea Cucumber crew was a lot more helpful than his Sea Monkey crew. At least Haggis would've lit the cannon once Guybrush was in it, unlike those other lazy sods.
Now we're on to the rectonning. Honestly, the biggest retcon I can remember from Curse was that it made Dinky Island into an atoll off the coast of monkey. I'm just going to refer to a past conversation I've had with you.
Originally Posted by Rather Dashing
Yeah. I kind of meant, but didn't really communicate, that I meant Big Whoop=Carnival of the Damned was a pretty dumb retcon. In that the whole scene just feels a lot more hokey, cartoonish, and ridiculous than the endings to the first two games, as silly as they still somewhat are.
Originally Posted by GuruGuru214
Okay, Curse did not retcon Big Whoop into being an amusement park. What it did was play off the ending of MI2 and had LeChuck name the Carnival of the Damned after the Big Whoop treasure, which was the gates of hell. If you remember, the carnival at the end of MI2 was also named Big Whoop.
The way I see it, MI2 left behind a pretty difficult situation to figure out: how to continue the series after that ambiguous ending. The puzzle pieces it left were 1. that Guybrush ended the game as a child in a carnival, and 2. that Elaine was concerned that LeChuck had put a spell on Guybrush. If we consider that the strange tunnels with a working elevator, a first aid office, a room with a vending machine and helium tanks, and a room full of carnival prizes are part of the game's "real world", it's not so far fetched to say that there's a carnival on the other end of the tunnels. And if you want to discount that, the earliest LeChuck could've cursed Guybrush was when he used the voodoo doll the first time, in the first room of the tunnels, unless you want to say that he cursed him in the fortress and that Dinky Island never happened. I prefer to think that it happened later on.
Really, given that Guybrush was under the belief that he was a child at a carnival, I find that having him trapped in an actual carnival while under that illusion isn't the worst solution in the world. I guess he could've just been trapped in a jungle while believing he was at a carnival, but that would've felt pretty unsatisfying. Or maybe the third game could've started with him breaking from the illusion that he was at a carnival and finding himself in a prison cell in LeChuck's fortress. Honestly, with what was left behind to work with, I'm okay with the solution they came up with. Nothing was discounted, unless you choose to interpret the end of MI2 so that LeChuck actually transformed Guybrush into a child and sent him forward in time to a modern carnival, then transformed himself into a child to pose as Guybrush's brother and keep an eye on him. Would you have preferred it if Guybrush had suddenly regained his memory and found that he'd become a child, doing his homework in a suburban home, some 400 years in the future?
And it's easy to say that the game lacked innovation, but it's a challenge to actually define what sort of innovation would've pleased you.
I admit, Curse was my first Monkey Island, so I'm a bit biased, but I also didn't have six years of waiting in which to envision my perfect follow up to MI2, so that's a bias I'm without.