First and foremost, I can’t say that I’m without a doubt the biggest Monkey Island fan in existence, or that I know all of the ins and outs of the entire franchise. I consider myself a passionate but still relatively new fan to the series and have not finished playing all of the games outside of the first two entries, and even those were only the Special Edition remastered releases. Still, when it was announced in April of this year that would be another Monkey Island entry at long last, I was giddy with excitement once I overcame my initial skepticism.
I think it was a little fair for me to have some reservations over the news of a new entry; the last official game was released way back in 2009, more than ten years ago. I had assumed that the Monkey Island franchise was good and dead, especially after Disney had bought Lucasfilm and there was scant news on its properties aside from Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Monkey Island is a series that many fans who have played it look back fondly on, and it may even have had a stamp on popular culture at one point, but unless you were around in its heyday back in the early ‘90s or stumbled upon it and fell in love as I did later on, chances are you’re not quite sure what all the hype is about, or if the games are even worth getting excited over.
With the entire Monkey Island series available on Steam, now is a great time to become invested in the (mis)adventures of Guybrush Threepwood, the many locales and amusing quirks that has brought amusement to players for over thirty years now. As we anticipate this latest adventure, I’d like to take the time to look back on Monkey Island and share my own take. What works and what doesn’t, why I feel it holds up or something that I hope will be addressed in the next game. The best thing about this franchise is that Monkey Island doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s a lighthearted romp that won me over with its unconventional characters, imaginative settings, and out-of-the-box solutions to puzzles and plot.
I myself found the series quite by accident; I was on a nostalgia kick and discovered the old-school click-and-point adventure games, quite unlike the Legend of Zelda games and other such titles that I was used to growing up. Games like Monkey Island, by contrast, felt much smaller in scale, but were often well-crafted and well-written. Despite the pixelated graphics that feel antiquated to the modern gamer, these feel just as immersive as many AAA titles to me. They’re also often challenging, with very little obvious clues offered to the player. Of course, this can be remedied with having the Internet and walkthroughs on hand, but I still find myself sometimes stuck on certain levels or on certain puzzles and find that I often need a little extra help in order to keep moving in the story.
I was excited when I learned that Monkey Island was a property from LucasArts, and thrilled that it looked quite different from Star Wars or Indiana Jones, which were staples for the company. I soon learned that Monkey Island could stand on its own, and that its developers clearly had fun creating this one-of-a-kind pirate story. Guybrush Threepwood is endearingly simple with high endeavors that it’s clear he’s not quite ready for – a sort of proto-Luke Skywalker, with none of the gravitas or wisdom that’s offered to him. The motivations of these characters are quite simple, but the story turns predictable tropes on its head, and circumstances just become sillier and sillier. It’s a game that’s sure to cheer you up a bit if you’re going through a rough time, and each entry adds something different that puts a spin on its own unique humor.
It’s my hope this summer to take a look at each of these entries as they’re available on Steam, and share my honest thoughts and opinions with you here. I’d like more people to be aware of this humorous and endearing series, and create conversation in anticipation for the latest release. I hope that you will partake with me on this journey, and enjoy that it may bring, and thoughts on what this newest game has in store for all of us.