Monkey Island was invented by Ron Gilbert. At Lucasarts, he led the creation of the Secret of Monkey Island
and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
. Ron moved on and LucasArts went ahead with creating the Curse of Monkey Island
without Ron's involvement. Ultimately, it was an excellent game in my opinion (even Ron said it was pretty good), but now there is this question of what would Ron Gilbert's Monkey Island 3 game have looked like?
The last Monkey Island game from LucasArts was Escape from Monkey Island
. Players have a love-hate relationship with this game. Some people pretend the game doesn't exist. It used a new control scheme designed for the console (Playstation 2). The graphics were developed in stylized 3D. Some of the storylines and character appearances have received widespread criticism for being shallow and gratuitous. Also, the "centerpiece" puzzle to the game, Monkey Combat, has been widely derided as tedious and unnecessary. That said, many players consider EMI a worthy successor within the series and don't have such harsh feelings towards it.
Then there was silence for several years and doubts that there would ever be another Monkey Island game after EMI.
Then out of the blue, two announcements happened nearly simultaneously:
- A special edition of the original Secret of Monkey Island was announced from LucasArts
- a 5 episode series Tales of Monkey Island was announced by Telltale Games
The graphics in Monkey Island 1 were upgraded to High Definition (1920 x 1080), full voices and music were added. Some complained about the graphics (specifically Guybrush's appearance, and there were some complaints about the uneven quality of the backgrounds) and music (Michael Land has created the music for every Monkey Island game so far, but it was another person at LucasArts who remixed the music for the Monkey Island 1: Special Edition). I personally had few complaints about the Monkey Island SE graphics or music and I played it through both on my iPhone and PC.
Telltale Games consists of several developers, story designers, and animators who left LucasArts. After cutting their teeth on Sam & Max, Homestarrunner, and Wallace & Gromit games, it was only a matter of time before they would return to their roots and produce a LucasArts-era title. Fortunately for all of us, Tales of Monkey Island
did have some involvement from Ron Gilbert, the full voice cast eventually returned from Curse of Monkey Island (Earl Boen, voice of LeChuck didn't sign on until after Tales episode 1 was completed with another actor), and of course Michael Land produced the music.
Any complaints about the pacing and depth of Tales of Monkey Island
episodes 1 and 2 soon faded with the tremendous episodes 4 and 5 which were just as powerful (in my opinion) as the previous Monkey Island games.
So now we have the announcement that LucasArts are producing a Special Edition of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
. This is an ambitious project, as Monkey Island 2 is approximately 4 times the size of the original Monkey Island in artwork and dialogue. So far, there have been concerns and negative comments about some of the upgraded graphics. It will be interesting to see what happens next.
I think a lot of us are crossing our fingers that either Ron Gilbert will be able to put together a full Monkey Island game to address the cliffhanger at the end of Monkey Island 2, or whether we'll see another Tales of Monkey Island series from Telltale Games. Either way, it's an exciting time to be a Monkey Island fan!