“Return to Monkey Island”, gentle association with the lost golden age of video games

It was a time of eight-inch floppy disks and VGA in 256 colors. On computers in the early 1990s, the adventure game acted as a showcase and the point and clickits most engaging version, unfolds in amazing picture books where players click to solve puzzles and follow unique stories.

Among those, The Secret of Monkey Island (1990) parodies filibuster epics with much contemporary popular culture. Ron Gilbert, Dave Grossman, and Tim Schafer, the game’s three main designers, mocked the romantic treasure-hunting mythos by featuring cowardly, buffoonish pirates. Its link, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (1991), takes this quest for the absurd even further with devious enigmas and daring false leads. But after these two masterpieces, the original creators of Monkey Island scattered to the four winds. The license, for its part, has three more or less successful additional games.

More than thirty years ago, however, Ron Gilbert shocked everyone when he announced 1er in April, the unexpected release of Return to Monkey Island. So here’s the captain in command, with a good portion of the original crew on board, led by co-screenwriter Dave Grossman.

Read our interview with Gilbert and Grossman: Article reserved for our subscribers “We don’t want to make a nostalgic video game”
The characters and settings reimagined by Rex Crowle (“Tearaway”) honor the graphic heritage of the genre without falling into the nostalgic temptation of pixel art.

pirate humor

The miracle of Return to Monkey Island was the first of all to restore, in an almost empty way, the alchemy that characterized the golden age of point and click. Like a graphic novel, these games navigate between two poles: on the one hand, rich and inspiring illustrations; on the other hand, a sophistication of the text often flows towards the absurd and irrepressible humor. Here, the warm skies of the Caribbean nights and the upholstery of the huts on the island of Mêlée immediately remind us of the lost art of 2D paintings.

The destructive humor of the series arises in this unfortunate situation to disrupt the project of the amateur pirate Guybrush Threepwood, once again launched in search of the secret of Monkey Island. As usual, the trip will be full of unexpected encounters, extreme turns and mistakes where our protagonist, more stupid than before, will scatter and scatter. “For now, my adventure is nothing but humiliation and physical pain! »mutters the abused antihero during the play, as if accusing his creators.

These no one: from the talking skeleton, Murray, collapsed in a laundry press, to the pirate leaders of the past years converted to fish sellers, everyone took it for their rank. True to a series that often pokes fun at its own characters, Return to Monkey Island did not forget to make the joke and the absurdity his main means of communication: the game is full of useless quests, like this enchanted frog offered to solve a dispute or this strange tree with mops hiding in the heart of the ‘island. But more than that, this last episode reminds us that the mechanics of the history of point and click rely above all on the joy of deception and disguise – here, Guybrush disguises himself as a zombie to join a ghost ship; there, he tampers with stacks of forms to achieve his goals. the point and clickin the end, always in essence a simulator of “piracy”.

Also read: Twenty years after its golden age, the resurgence of the adventure video game
Supposedly a parody of the Disney parks' star attraction, the

A game of yesterday and today

or Return to Monkey Island ticks all the boxes in the reunion game, simplicity still takes precedence over nostalgia. All the secondary characters, from swordsman Carla to cartographer Wally, are back? Yes, but as we left them last week. The emblematic places and motifs of the series are reassembled in a new light? Yes, but their role remains discreet and temporary.

Modernized, the game system offers comfort features: several interaction options (exit verb actions to move the decoration), two difficulty levels to choose from, an integrated help system that there are progressive clues and, while still fun, many fluid puzzles. Don’t get stuck on self-quotes (and it’s up to the last riddle), Return to Monkey Island primarily serving long-time fans but also welcoming newcomers. A souvenir album provides access to a summary of Guybrush’s memoirs, the central theme of a game that oscillates between returning and forgetting the past.

On the island of Mêlée there is now a museum of piracy where things related to the deeds of arms of famous pirates are displayed. Surprisingly, most of them are from the adventures of Guybrush, whose name is not mentioned anywhere. Forgotten, our hero is also despised by everyone, starting with the trio of modern pirates skilled in black magic who now rule the island. In a parallel world, Monkey Island could have been a major successful license, refused films and toys branded Lucasfilm (or Disney, which has since bought the company), but fate wanted Guybrush to remain a wise cousin of Indiana Jones, which is also the hero of point and click memorable.

Whether they are crazy bastards or naive lovers, the supporting characters of

During the game, Guybrush sails from an island to an island in search of mysterious keys, which will give us the opportunity to repeat the journeys of the past, but always a little different or told that different Considering itself as a final recompilation, Return to Monkey Island is a game about the joy of reinventing the treasures of stories, but also of repeating the past through their precious transmission. The nature of a treasure? Although buried for many years, when it was excavated, it retained all its beauty.

Pixels opinion in a nutshell

We like:

  • the quirky spirit and hilarious humor of Monkey Island™ is more alive than ever;
  • attractive graphics and an amazing soundtrack;
  • neither retro nor flashy, a simple and reasonable update of point and click.

We don’t like:

  • some places of no interest or too quickly crossed;
  • a successful episode but needs a little minor.

It’s more for you if…

  • you like the series or want to discover it;
  • finally you want to know what is behind the secret of monkey island.

Not for you if…

  • you don’t like puzzles, dialogue games and grog.

Pixel Note:

7 pieces 8

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