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Your favorite Monkey Island game


Remi
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Your favorite Monkey Island game  

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  1. 1. What is your favorite Monkey Island game?

    • The Secret of Monkey Island
    • LeChuck's Revenge
    • The Curse of Monkey Island
    • Escape from Monkey Island
    • Tales of Monkey Island


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5 hours ago, Jake said:

It's really okay for you to just be talking about yourself and your own tastes! Really no need to talk for others in a thread called your favorite Monkey Island game.


 

5 hours ago, Remi said:

We = you.

 

We = the collective MI fanbase.

 

It wouldn't really make much sense for me to suggest Larry Ahern and Chuck Jordan sat down and said, "What elements did ThunderPeel2001 really like about MI1 and 2? That's what we need in MI3!"

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3 hours ago, BaronGrackle said:

He does use the "I" pronoun five times overall and the "we" pronoun once when referring to the elements one loves about Monkey Island.

 

I suppose it's imprecise because not everyone loves the same things. But the things we do love probably have a lot of overlap... and in that sentence, the main point of contention would probably center on "made the best thing you could with them".

 

Good idea for a topic: What are all the elements you love about Monkey Island?

 

Thank you. You're right, if there's a point of pedantic semantic contention it's the second bit (which is clearly my opinion). The rest is self-explanatory and shouldn't need explaining.

 

And not sure why sharing an opinion should cause so much ire (I feel like I'm getting it from Mojo staffers at the moment -- any particular reason why?) 🤷‍♂️ Especially when I already put it in the context of it being just how I feel:

hGusp6V.png

Edit: Is it because I put Tales last? (I actually ummed and ahhed about that -- I honestly don't remember Escape or Tales well enough to make a fair comparison and nearly put them equal.)

 

 

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1 hour ago, ThunderPeel2001 said:

Edit: Is it because I put Tales last? (I actually ummed and ahhed about that -- I honestly don't remember Escape or Tales well enough to make a fair comparison and nearly put them equal.)


Nah, I've seen enough of j2ake's style to know he doesn't do that.

 

But right now on Twitter, some have been throwing shade on MI6 in the way they compliment MI3 and even MI4. I... I've kind of done that myself, even here. So. Sorry about that.

 

My acceptance of MI6 and its role in my MI fan appreciation is still coalescing.

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5 hours ago, ThunderPeel2001 said:


 

 

We = the collective MI fanbase.

 

It wouldn't really make much sense for me to suggest Larry Ahern and Chuck Jordan sat down and said, "What elements did ThunderPeel2001 really like about MI1 and 2? That's what we need in MI3!"

 

First, if it's gonna take you an hour to edit out your snarky personal shit throwing, you might as well keep it in.

 

And again, why do you keep saying "we" like your opinions represent the entire Monkey Island fanbase? "Curse somehow took all the elements we love about MI" -- what elements are the ones we all love? What elements did they leave out that we all don't love? It's just a weird statement.

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3 hours ago, ThunderPeel2001 said:

Edit: Is it because I put Tales last?

Give me a break dude. It’s because of what I said: you don’t speak for me. I only had a problem with the one word I called out. 
 

There’s a lot of “speaking for the fans” going on in the Monkey Island community right now and it’s… never accurate. Just say “I” or cite specifics. It’s a big fan community with a bunch of different opinions. When you say in fact, your opinion is that of some vague majority, it comes across as an attempt to give your own tastes an outsize amount of power in the conversation. Sorry for getting spicy about it but it’s a pattern I have no tolerance left for at this point. 

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With all the stuff going on among fans since the announcement of Return, especially outside of here, I understand everyone's a bit more on edge, even here.

 

I hope we manage to not let that get to us in the same divisive way as can be seen on e.g. Twitter or Ron's blog.

 

I'm so thankful for everyone here doing their best to course correct and clarify whenever a situation shows signs of escalation, rather than leaning fully into the conflict and going scorched earth.

 

We're all in the same boat after all, even if it looks different for everyone. Monkey Island is a magical boat that can take a crew to multiple places at once, unlike LeShip where everybody has to agree on a single destination. 😁

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9 hours ago, ThunderPeel2001 said:

And not sure why sharing an opinion should cause so much ire (I feel like I'm getting it from Mojo staffers at the moment -- any particular reason why?) 🤷‍♂️ Especially when I already put it in the context of it being just how I feel:

hGusp6V.png

The quote you have here says "it's just how I feel" and then makes a massive sweeping statement about "all the elements we love about MI". You're speaking for yourself. 

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We're all individuals with our own opinions. For myself, I do think the Curse designers produced the best thing they could have done, which left echoes in the fandom of the early '00s (how many of us remember Paco Vink's art?) and still holds with us today, in noticeable aspects such as Murray's character and the voice casting of Dominic and many others.

 

Let me consciously make a point of not detracting from the other MI games, with this statement.

 

(Plus the addendum that we as fans were far harder on MI4's twist that Herman was Grandpa Marley, than we were on MI3's twist that LeChuck was responsible for the deaths of Marley's crew, and that apparently he sailed to impress Elaine with the secret of Monkey Island at about the same time Captain Marley sailed for Big Whoop.)

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I haven't ventured to MI Reddit or Twitter lately, and now I'm afraid to. I'm afraid if I check I will go down a rabbithole of negative fan emotions. Can anyone briefly sum up the discourse for me?

 

I remember when Curse came out, and it coincided with an explosion of fan activity online since it was the days when anyone could start a fan site. There were so many of them! My memories of Curse are really entangled with the experiences of checking sites like The SCUMM Bar and other early Mojo affiliates every day in the lead-up to its release, and then regularly for years afterward. I mean, just the fact that Curse had its own website was a big deal at the time - were there any earlier LucasArts games that had dedicated websites?

 

For me, a big part of the Monkey Island was this transition from a world in which Monkey Island consisted of just two games, to a world in which it became a franchise. It was exciting and confusing, and a very fun time to be a fan.

 

I still haven't finished playing Return, so I don't think I can do an updated ranking, but mine would be pretty non-controversial:

 

-Revenge

-Secret

-Curse

-Tales

-Escape

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3 hours ago, Aro-tron said:

Can anyone briefly sum up the discourse for me?

Lots of posts from people who don’t like the ending, some very nuanced but many going so far as to saying things like the developers are “spitting in the face of fans” with the games ending. 


The Reddit has plenty of positivity and nuance but it’s buried in the cracks. What seems to be happening there right now is any time someone doesn’t like the ending they go to the subreddit and make a new thread saying “my honest opinion” or “am I the only person who doesn’t like it?” and then the same crew rolls into the comments to repeat the same comments they leave in each of these threads about how they also don’t like it. There’s plenty of “if you’re an old school monkey island fan like me you agree with me” or “I’m speaking for all the real fans when I say this” going on, as a way to light a torch and wave it around their opinion to defend it against all comers. 
 

Reddit is where people go to make posts when they want to make sure they aren’t the only one feeling a certain way about something. Odds are good they’ll find others who agree with them, then band together with them, and that can set the tone for a subreddit for a while. But that doesn’t mean Reddit represents the majority opinion on that thing, even among die-hard fans. Sometimes it does, but sometimes it’s just the place people end up going to complain together, or celebrate together, or just puff each others similar opinions up.

 

Sometimes when polarizing moments happen in a fan community, a subreddit can tip overwhelmingly one way or another in a way that feels almost random in which way it tips, especially if it’s not heavily moderated. A lot of the posts on the MI sub are negative, but when there’s a poll the answers skew a lot more positive, which indicates to me that there are plenty of people out there who enjoyed the game and aren’t participating in discussion there, which is very one note at the moment.
 

Personally I don’t mind people sharing their “honest opinion” (other than the part where they feel the need to to call it “honest,” which implies anyone who feels differently from the author of the post is being dishonest or wearing blinders), you feel the way you feel about a creative work. That’s part of the fun! But it drives me up the wall when they try to smother someone else’s opinion, passively or aggressively, by claiming that only one opinion exists that speaks for “the fans” and it happens to be theirs. I think that is the behavior that eventually makes people leave the conversation and just lurk from the sidelines.

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Anyway back on topic, my favorite Monkey Island games, in order:

 

 

* On any given week Monkey Island 1 and 2 bounce between being my favorite. Secret is just so clean, the bar it set is so high, it came out of the gate as such a singular experience that it was able to define a template that five other games could follow and be judged on whether they “feel right” based on those amazing first choices. Its mood, across the whole game but especially on Melee and beneath Monkey islands, is still some of the most potent and pervasive in the series, and Guybrush as he’s written in Secret still may be the perfect balance of naïveté and snark, earnest and detached, as a passthrough for players desires, and somehow as his own person. … …

 

Monkey Island 2 is still, to me, one of the most beautiful looking and sounding games out there. Monkey 2 is just the distillation of “evocative” and “intriguing” to me. When I first played it, walking around Woodtick, I wanted to fall into the screen and live there. The game seems built with every pixel to ooze mystery, to invite you to wonder what’s behind every corner you can’t see, what’s hidden in the cracks of its world. I love that the story is about peeling back layer after layer of a huge pirate mystery that seems way bigger than you.


* Return has quickly flown up the list to third place for me. I’m not as purely in love with Return as I am with Monkey Island 1 and 2, but it’s given me more to think about than any other Monkey Island game (and more than most games I’ve played). It’s not a game whose world I want to tumble into the way I did with 2, but I felt an almost manic need to drive through the game and learn what it was about, and when I reached the ending for the first time I realized that I’d been on the same sweaty journey as Guybrush. It felt awesome. Return is less about disappearing into the cracks of its fictional world like 1 and 2 are, but it’s replaced that with a game that is full of nooks and crannies to explore, all of which reinforce and ruminate on the central themes, whether it’s the contents of the scrapbook that bookends the game, the different endings, the frame stories within frame stories, or, of course, the world and puzzles and plot of the game too. I don’t think I’ll ever have the same pure love for Return that I have for 1 and 2 no matter how much time passes, because it always wants to keep me a little more at arms length than the rest of the series. But, it’s the first game since 2 to both keep me on the edge of my seat the whole time, wondering what’s going to happen next, what kind of a story I’m even playing, and also to give me questions to chew on for weeks and months after finishing it, and for those reasons it’ll probably always stay this high up.

 

* Curse, for me, has never crackled with the same weird immeasurable energy as 1 and 2 - it just doesn't seem interested in the idea that there is some unspeakable creepy underbelly beneath the story like those games did - and that’s something I struggled with for a long time because that feeling was what defined Monkey Island to me, but I think with time I’ve gotten over my own hangups and really appreciate Curse on its own terms. As a comedy pirate story filled with swells of adventure, intrigue, melancholy, it delivers; in my opinion it’s one of the best adventure games ever made. It’s just really damn crisp, a game that feels like it matches the intention of its team in the execution of it. It’s obviously beautiful, made by a team at the top of their game who clearly was having a good time making it. The music is still unmatched in the series imo, especially on the production front. It has a huge cast of memorable characters you really want to spend more time with. Guybrush and Elaine and LeChuck feel more flattened to me as characters in Curse, another knock against it from me personally, and while I think it sets an unfortunate trend in the series, I can’t fault Curse for it entirely: Curse is aiming to be Monkey Island by way of Disney cartoon, and the way they “flatten” the characters could just as easily be seen as “heightening” them in terms of making them feel like they fit in, or even pop, in their new animated setting. Not quite what I’m after personally, but so it goes. (Also the voice casting rules. Earl Boen as LeChuck will forever be a beautiful and inspired gift Curse gave us.)


* Escape is harder for me to square on all fronts. I love that for some people out there this is their favorite Monkey Island game, but it’s not for me. The art, engine, writing, mood all seem kind of at odds with each other, like many different people all had ideas for how a new Monkey Island game might work, and they all got thrown into a room together and started working, but never ended up on the same page. It has gags I love and still remember, some puzzles I think of fondly, themes and plot points that I think are pretty inspired and clever, lots of great animation and music, but at least for me as a player, the whole is definitely less than the sum of its parts. Guybrush, LeChuck, and Elaine slip into even more one-note versions of who they are, almost parodies of their characters from the earlier games, which I wish I could find fun and laugh at the way the game itself sometimes does, but it mostly made me sad. And it’s got some real bummer moments that for me will never work (the giant anime robot duel at the end especially). 
 

* At times, even though I worked on it, Tales is at the bottom of my own list. When I first heard we might be licensing the series from Lucas to make the fifth game, my first response was “no, we shouldn’t do it,” because I knew the budget we’d be operating at was tiny compared to the original games. When I heard it would be a WiiWare game my heart sank because I knew each chapter had to fit in a 40 mb footprint, which means the whole season would only get 200 megs of storage — less than half of just one of the two CDs that Curse got a decade earlier. And I still feel that crunch whenever I go back and replay: The dialog prompts that result in the same voice line said regardless of what you choose, the repeated and reused pirate models, the soundtrack buried under bad midi. I was worried we’d make a Monkey Island so cheap it would be an embarrassment and I often still feel that way. I can’t speak as definitively of my more positive feelings because they’re about our own creative choices as a team, but we tried to tell a rollicking pirate adventure that went places the previous games never did, we tried to infuse things with an air of mystery that built up over the season, we tried to start the process of pushing Guybrush, LeChuck, and Elaine back to the people we knew from the earlier games, and we tried to at least acknowledge the weird edges and undercurrent of the story even if we didn’t feel like it was our job or place to fully dive into them. I don’t think we fully succeeded at any of those things, and I wouldn’t fault anyone for going as far as saying we didn’t achieve any of them. Sometimes I think of a moment from Tales, or an aspiration we had for it, or a memory from making it, and I’m filled with enough happiness and pride that it shoots way up this list! With time I’ve settled on mostly being proud of Tales - I think what the team achieved with the budgetary, platform, and managerial constraints we were handed is still impressive, and our love for and thoughtfulness around the world of Monkey Island shines through. But I completely get if that isn’t enough. If it doesn’t work for you for the same reasons I have misgivings, or for some completely different combination of reasons, that’s just how it is! 


I love that with this series basically no two people have the same list with the same reasons. My favorites are the weird total outliers that have, for example, Escape at the top or a total dunk on one of the earlier games down at the bottom just because it’s such a break in the trend, but even within more conventional orderings there are always hopefully some fun details and reasonings. 

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17 hours ago, Remi said:

First, if it's gonna take you an hour to edit out your snarky personal shit throwing, you might as well keep it in.

 

I decided two wrongs don't make a right and deleted it.

 

Quote

And again, why do you keep saying "we" like your opinions represent the entire Monkey Island fanbase? "Curse somehow took all the elements we love about MI" -- what elements are the ones we all love? What elements did they leave out that we all don't love? It's just a weird statement.

 

You're deliberately ignoring what I said. What BaronGrackle explained. Why?

 

I've already explained I was speaking for myself. At this point you're just being wilfully argumentative.

 

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16 hours ago, Jake said:

There’s a lot of “speaking for the fans” going on in the Monkey Island community right now and it’s… never accurate. Just say “I” or cite specifics. It’s a big fan community with a bunch of different opinions. When you say in fact, your opinion is that of some vague majority, it comes across as an attempt to give your own tastes an outsize amount of power in the conversation. Sorry for getting spicy about it but it’s a pattern I have no tolerance left for at this point. 

 

I appreciate the apology, but I just need to clarify: I'm not "speaking for fans", nor was I. You just misinterpreted what I wrote.

 

  

10 hours ago, elTee said:

The quote you have here says "it's just how I feel" and then makes a massive sweeping statement about "all the elements we love about MI". You're speaking for yourself. 

 

Yes, I'm speaking for myself. That's precisely the point I was making. I'm glad you got it :)

 

Just to clarify one final time. What I was saying is: It feels to me that Ahern and Jordan sat down and said: "What elements do fans of MI love? Let's make sure we get all of those into a game." For me, they succeeded (mostly).

 

And for others (like Remi and many others) they didn't.

 

Sorry to everyone for wording what I meant badly... how about we all try to assume the best from each-other from now on?

 

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1 hour ago, Jake said:

Anyway back on topic, my favorite Monkey Island games, in order:

 

 

* On any given week Monkey Island 1 and 2 bounce between being my favorite. Secret is just so clean, the bar it set is so high, it came out of the gate as such a singular experience that it was able to define a template that five other games could follow and be judged on whether they “feel right” based on those amazing first choices. Its mood, across the whole game but especially on Melee and beneath Monkey islands, is still some of the most potent and pervasive in the series, and Guybrush as he’s written in Secret still may be the perfect balance of naïveté and snark, earnest and detached, as a passthrough for players desires, and somehow as his own person. … …

 

Monkey Island 2 is still, to me, one of the most beautiful looking and sounding games out there. Monkey 2 is just the distillation of “evocative” and “intriguing” to me. When I first played it, walking around Woodtick, I wanted to fall into the screen and live there. The game seems built with every pixel to ooze mystery, to invite you to wonder what’s behind every corner you can’t see, what’s hidden in the cracks of its world. I love that the story is about peeling back layer after layer of a huge pirate mystery that seems way bigger than you.


* Return has quickly flown up the list to third place for me. I’m not as purely in love with Return as I am with Monkey Island 1 and 2, but it’s given me more to think about than any other Monkey Island game (and more than most games I’ve played). It’s not a game whose world I want to tumble into the way I did with 2, but I felt an almost manic need to drive through the game and learn what it was about, and when I reached the ending for the first time I realized that I’d been on the same sweaty journey as Guybrush. It felt awesome. Return is less about disappearing into the cracks of its fictional world like 1 and 2 are, but it’s replaced that with a game that is full of nooks and crannies to explore, all of which reinforce and ruminate on the central themes, whether it’s the contents of the scrapbook that bookends the game, the different endings, the frame stories within frame stories, or, of course, the world and puzzles and plot of the game too. I don’t think I’ll ever have the same pure love for Return that I have for 1 and 2 no matter how much time passes, because it always wants to keep me a little more at arms length than the rest of the series. But, it’s the first game since 2 to both keep me on the edge of my seat the whole time, wondering what’s going to happen next, what kind of a story I’m even playing, and also to give me questions to chew on for weeks and months after finishing it, and for those reasons it’ll probably always stay this high up.

 

* Curse, for me, has never crackled with the same weird immeasurable energy as 1 and 2 - it just doesn't seem interested in the idea that there is some unspeakable creepy underbelly beneath the story like those games did - and that’s something I struggled with for a long time because that feeling was what defined Monkey Island to me, but I think with time I’ve gotten over my own hangups and really appreciate Curse on its own terms. As a comedy pirate story filled with swells of adventure, intrigue, melancholy, it delivers; in my opinion it’s one of the best adventure games ever made. It’s just really damn crisp, a game that feels like it matches the intention of its team in the execution of it. It’s obviously beautiful, made by a team at the top of their game who clearly was having a good time making it. The music is still unmatched in the series imo, especially on the production front. It has a huge cast of memorable characters you really want to spend more time with. Guybrush and Elaine and LeChuck feel more flattened to me as characters in Curse, another knock against it from me personally, and while I think it sets an unfortunate trend in the series, I can’t fault Curse for it entirely: Curse is aiming to be Monkey Island by way of Disney cartoon, and the way they “flatten” the characters could just as easily be seen as “heightening” them in terms of making them feel like they fit in, or even pop, in their new animated setting. Not quite what I’m after personally, but so it goes. (Also the voice casting rules. Earl Boen as LeChuck will forever be a beautiful and inspired gift Curse gave us.)


* Escape is harder for me to square on all fronts. I love that for some people out there this is their favorite Monkey Island game, but it’s not for me. The art, engine, writing, mood all seem kind of at odds with each other, like many different people all had ideas for how a new Monkey Island game might work, and they all got thrown into a room together and started working, but never ended up on the same page. It has gags I love and still remember, some puzzles I think of fondly, themes and plot points that I think are pretty inspired and clever, lots of great animation and music, but at least for me as a player, the whole is definitely less than the sum of its parts. Guybrush, LeChuck, and Elaine slip into even more one-note versions of who they are, almost parodies of their characters from the earlier games, which I wish I could find fun and laugh at the way the game itself sometimes does, but it mostly made me sad. And it’s got some real bummer moments that for me will never work (the giant anime robot duel at the end especially). 
 

* At times, even though I worked on it, Tales is at the bottom of my own list. When I first heard we might be licensing the series from Lucas to make the fifth game, my first response was “no, we shouldn’t do it,” because I knew the budget we’d be operating at was tiny compared to the original games. When I heard it would be a WiiWare game my heart sank because I knew each chapter had to fit in a 40 mb footprint, which means the whole season would only get 200 megs of storage — less than half of just one of the two CDs that Curse got a decade earlier. And I still feel that crunch whenever I go back and replay: The dialog prompts that result in the same voice line said regardless of what you choose, the repeated and reused pirate models, the soundtrack buried under bad midi. I was worried we’d make a Monkey Island so cheap it would be an embarrassment and I often still feel that way. I can’t speak as definitively of my more positive feelings because they’re about our own creative choices as a team, but we tried to tell a rollicking pirate adventure that went places the previous games never did, we tried to infuse things with an air of mystery that built up over the season, we tried to start the process of pushing Guybrush, LeChuck, and Elaine back to the people we knew from the earlier games, and we tried to at least acknowledge the weird edges and undercurrent of the story even if we didn’t feel like it was our job or place to fully dive into them. I don’t think we fully succeeded at any of those things, and I wouldn’t fault anyone for going as far as saying we didn’t achieve any of them. Sometimes I think of a moment from Tales, or an aspiration we had for it, or a memory from making it, and I’m filled with enough happiness and pride that it shoots way up this list! With time I’ve settled on mostly being proud of Tales - I think what the team achieved with the budgetary, platform, and managerial constraints we were handed is still impressive, and our love for and thoughtfulness around the world of Monkey Island shines through. But I completely get if that isn’t enough. If it doesn’t work for you for the same reasons I have misgivings, or for some completely different combination of reasons, that’s just how it is! 


I love that with this series basically no two people have the same list with the same reasons. My favorites are the weird total outliers that have, for example, Escape at the top or a total dunk on one of the earlier games down at the bottom just because it’s such a break in the trend, but even within more conventional orderings there are always hopefully some fun details and reasonings. 

What a great write-up and thanks for your honest (😜) opinion on Tales despite working on it. I remember how excited I was about it, and it really picked up around episode 3. I still remember fondly the LeSinge escape room, the manatee, the "technical limitation" jokes (Guybrush tossing items into Anemone's fountain to avoid animating a giving animation 😂), Morgan LeFlay was an amazing character and I'd have loved her to return in Return.

 

I also remember how, due to how I perceived Elaine and Guybrush's marriage, I was rooting for Guybrush to split with Elaine and get with Morgan in the end. Was such an outcome ever considered in the writing room or was I just reading too much into it?

 

I believe I really need to replay Tales and maybe distanced from the times back then, it might surprise me.

 

It was after all my favorite Telltale game. Thanks for trying so hard in the face of the limitations @Jake

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Once upon a time, I would have been able to rank these games confidently, but as I’ve gotten older, I find it harder to do so. I’m sure there’s a whole book that can be written about the reasoning behind that, so I’ll skip right to how the “ranking” works in my mind, right now.

 

Tier 1

Chronologically: The Secret of Monkey Island, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, Return to Monkey Island

 

Having gone through Return a handful of times now, it increasingly is becoming hard to separate the three. Return certainly rides on a different narrative structure -- and doesn’t have the advantage of thirty years of lovin' -- but the three fit together perfectly for me. I’ve said enough about the two first games over the past twenty-plus years around these parts, and will have plenty to say about Return after I’ve digested it further. If I was to rank them, in all likelihood it would look like this:

 

1. LeChuck’s Revenge

2. The Secret of Monkey Island

3. Return to Monkey Island

 

Tier 2

Tales of Monkey Island

 

It has its issues and inconsistencies (as generally is the case with TTG’s episodic nature), but the tone of the game is the closest to the non-Gilbert-lead Monkey Islands. In that sense, with Tier 1 taken into consideration, Tales is the logical #4. I guess I'm a Gilbert/Grossman-head at heart.

 

4. Tales of Monkey Island

 

Tier 3

Chronologically: Curse of Monkey Island, Escape from Monkey Island

 

This one is tougher. Escape is deeply inconsistent -- no need to get into those details -- but the dialogue is fresh and funny (albeit sometimes awkwardly so). All very Stemmle-y.

 

Curse is consistent throughout, in that it feels like it has zero ambitions being anything but cute in story and dialogue. It’s funny at times, but it never leaves me feeling... anything... after playing it. Escape at least has a pinch of satire. Thus:

 

5. Escape from Monkey Island

6. Curse of Monkey Island

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39 minutes ago, Gins said:

I also remember how, due to how I perceived Elaine and Guybrush's marriage, I was rooting for Guybrush to split with Elaine and get with Morgan in the end. Was such an outcome ever considered in the writing room or was I just reading too much into it?

This is probably a question for Mark, Mike, and Dave more than me but I’ll try my best. I think at the time of Tales, the question of “should Guybrush and Elaine be married” was in the air (as it will probably always be), but there were a few big wrinkles in that that had to be met head on. The first wrinkle was I guess colder, one of canon and IP: no matter what one thought about it, they are married, because that’s what happened in Curse of Monkey Island. That’s a game we were making a sequel to, so it had to be the case. (That said, maybe there was some friction to play with there?) The second wrinkle in the situation, one a little more fun to deal with, comes from the character point of view: If they’re married, if Elaine said yes to the proposal and the marriage, what does that mean? Elaine is a smart and capable and rational person, in fact she’s one of the most perceptive and intuitive characters in the game’s universe, and she sees something in Guybrush that makes her agree to marry him. What does that relationship look like? What does she see in him that makes it work? And on the other hand, how does Guybrush feel about it? How does being married to elaine collide with his sometimes self-sabotaging combination of pride and insecurity? Will he brag about it on one hand while constantly worry that he lucked out and will some day be unmasked as undeserving of this person he loves but isn’t sure he deserves? I think the whole Morgan storyline is maybe a touch melodramatic and soap opera-y in how it was deployed, but it existed in part to test all of Guybrush’s fears on this axis and put him through the wringer over it. I think Return handled a lot of these themes in a more grown up and less melodramatic way than Tales, but that is also kind of thematically appropriate given it’s a story of younger people who are less sure of themselves and what they want in life. (Thanks Return for making some of Tales’ thrashing around seem deliberate!) Again just my take, but I don’t think it was ever considered that Guybrush and Elaine wouldn’t end up together at the end of Tales; the game was meant to make them feel the seams stretching on the bond of their relationship so it’d be tighter and more appreciated for what it is by the end. 
 

43 minutes ago, ThunderPeel2001 said:

It feels to me that Ahern and Jordan sat down and said: "What elements do fans of MI love? Let's make sure we get all of those into a game." For me, they succeeded (mostly).

 

And for others (like Remi and many others) they didn't.

I think this read is correct. Thank you for clarifying.

 

As an example of this disconnect, the original Curse design document called it “an apology for the end of Monkey 2” in a kidding-not-kidding kind of way. If you’re a fan for whom Monkey 2’s ending needs no apology (or for whom the tone and ideas that game’s ending were grappling with were one of the big draws to the series for you) a sequel whose initial seed of thought was a need to “apologize” for it, is probably not going to resonate with you as much as it does for other fans who don’t share that same specific interest in the series.

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I was listening to a podcast reviewing all the Monkey Island games and they described Escape as being a Sam and Max game in a pirate setting, and I think that’s a good way to describe the humor and storyline (the podcast reviewers also really did not like EMI though). 
 

Its so interesting hearing the diverse opinions on why each game is their favorite. I’ll want to revisit my larger list and do a deeper dive for why I like (not so much dislike for any point and click, barring Broken Age) the games and what makes each special. 

 

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16 minutes ago, Jake said:

As an example of this disconnect, the original Curse design document called it “an apology for the end of Monkey 2” in a kidding-not-kidding kind of way. If you’re a fan for whom Monkey 2’s ending needs no apology (or for whom the tone and ideas that game’s ending were grappling with were one of the big draws to the series for you) a sequel whose initial seed of thought was a need to “apologize” for it, is probably not going to resonate with you as much as it does for other fans who don’t share that same specific interest in the series.

I imagine if a team wanted to do this again after Return, they could. So it's hard for me to fully see the extreme reactions to it's ending, since it could just be undone with a quick throwaway intro.

 

E.g. Boybrush could simply be abducted by LeChuck in the beginning of the next game.

 

Boybrush: "But dad said he made you up!"

LeChuck: "You will find I am quite real."

Boybrush: "Like the graphics of my new Playstation 6?"

LeChuck: "Perhaps... but maybe more like... your uncle!"

Boybrush: "Noooooo!"

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I finally came back after finishing Return, and even a few days later it's still feel kind of too fresh in my mind, so I don't know if I can really compare it to the others, but I'll try. I'll update my previous list and maybe shear some reasons (I'll try to be brief) of why they are ranked there.

I'll go from 6 to 1, for the sake of being different

 

6.Tales of Monkey Island

I really love Tales, and I really like that it's trying to bring this more adult mature story into the Monkey Island universe, that it poses questions about the characters and the world. To me it doesn't really feel like a true Monkey Island though. It doesn't really feel like it's part of the story, it's more of another chapter. It's not a continuation, as much as it is a new beginning . Which is fine, by the way, but it doesn't follow the kind of narrative and story structure that I enjoy from a Monkey Island game and I guess it comes from the episodic format. What keeps this most behind the others is the fact that I don't really feel like it's an adventure game sometimes, especially in the first chapters. It feels most like an interactive story, which is not really what I'm looking for in my Monkey Island.

So yeah, great game, love it, not really my cup of tea.

 

5. Escape from Monkey Island

The black sheep of the franchise, which I think gets WAY too much hate that it deserve. It's fun, great music, charming graphics (yes, it is, it's not ugly, shut up), great locations, and clever (if not a little frustrating) puzzles. What keeps this one behind the others is the fact that the plot is a little weak, it doesn't really advance anything and it's just an excuse to make a game. I like the social commentary they came up with, but it really does end there. LeChuck is stolen away from the focal point of the story to be a somewhat side villain. But other than that, it's a really solid game and I admire it for trying to do something different and actually kind of succeeding in making me believe that it's still set in that world that we all love so much.

 

4. Return to Monkey Island

Here it is, everyone's new favourite! Again, it's kind of too early for me to really digest, maybe I'll change my opinion in the future, but for now, here it is. Return is a great game, it does feel like the next chapter of the saga, it's not something they made up to make a sequel like Escape and not a new different storyline like Tales, but it's the next logical step for the series. There's few things that this game does wrong (if any), it's got a killer soundtrack, very beautiful art direction and scenery, a really great story, loveable characters, and very well thought out puzzles. The puzzle design really surprised me, because it's all very logical and direct, and they make you really stop and think, but not to the point where it gets frustrating (even though I found the answer to some to be kind of too obvious).

I really love that the structure is kind of a mix of both 1 and 2, with a first more linear part and then going around different islands and doing things in the order you prefer.

Spoiler

I don't know why people had a problem with the ending, I kind of expected a weird one, even though I didn't expect it to be so thoughtful and to happen exactly like that (even though I called the Secret being a T-Shirt AND the friends we made along the way).

So all in all, it's really down here because during the second part, I didn't quite feel immersed. There's something odd about it that I can't quite put my finger on, maybe it's the fact that there seems to be few people to talk to and have meaningful dialogue during the "open world" part, or that Terror Island has no people and it's kind of just a maze, along with other islands with maybe a little too few locations (I can gripe more about this on another forum post maybe).

So yeah, moving on, great game, loved it, still digesting it.

 

3. The Curse of Monkey Island

My introduction to the series, so probably I'm biased, but still. Great art, the best videogame soundtrack ever made, great atmosphere, great everything. It's probably still the funniest Monkey Island, every line of dialogue is gold, and every gag lands perfectly.

Some puzzles are a little cryptic, but they're all very smart. Every location is a delight to explore. Playing it, really does make me feel like I'm playing an animated movie.

I don't know how to explain it, but every time I play I'm having so much fun, and the fact that the goal is not "find treasure" or "save the world" but "save the person you love", gives me great motivation to go on and it gets me closer to the story and the characters. 

Also, in hindsight, I really love how they managed to continue the story and make Guybrush grow as a character, while also regressing him more closely to the first game's iteration. Too bad for Elaine being a statue the whole game...

 

2. The Secret of Monkey Island

Come on guys, this is a classic. It really just has this magic quality of making you feel like a kid in this giant pirate amusement park, filled with adventures, people to talk to, fun activities, and GROG! But really, it has the ability to immerse people in that world, to really make you feel like you're becoming a pirate with Guybrush, and it's all so cleverly and organically put together. The puzzles are still some of the smartest puzzles in any adventure game I've ever played. The fact that there are multiple solutions for different puzzles because they would make sense, in a 1991 game astounds me. There's also the feeling of mystery surrounding Monkey Island that most of every other game, permeates the whole game.

The music is still amazing, every track is a banger, atmospheric, catchy and immersive.

The story is simple yet captivating, just like in Curse, only Elaine gets out better as a character...

Nothing much to say here, it's a masterpiece.

 

1.Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge

I don't know if I can add anything that hasn't already been said about this game. It has a perfect story, perfect dialogue, perfect art, perfect music, perfect atmosphere, perfect sense of exploration and adventure. I don't really know how else to describe it other than perfect. Yeah, the puzzles are a bit on the hard and frustrating side, but sometimes that's my kind of jam, so it works perfect for me. I love that every Island has someone to talk to, fun things to do, dangers at every corner. That sense of danger is also what makes this game more engaging for me. Sure LeChuck is a big meany and tries to kill you in the first one, but it's more of a "yeah, you're in my way, whatevs", in this one his objective is find you, torture you, kill you and then  torture you some more until eternity.

The thing about Monkey 2 is that it makes me feel like I'm part of the MI world, that I can go wherever I want, when I want, that there are consequences to my action, that everyone I meet I can talk to etc...

To me Monkey 2 is the perfect game and that's why it's number 1.

 

 

 

I'll probably change my mind in the future, but when I do I'll try not to write an entire essay :guybrush:

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Quote

What are all the elements 

you love about Monkey Island?

 

I like being able to sense an enormous world outside of the protagonist. I like excitement, anxiety, discovery, mystery. Even though I didn’t fully realize it until this year: I crave drama (tragedy) blended with comedy, and realism blended with fantasy (cartoon).

 
Secret

Secret has risen to be my favorite. My brain has cemented it as the great blend, the proto story, the embryonic beginning that could have gone in any direction. In Secret you can spot references to the world being an amusement park… or a small community… or a novel… or a video game… or a straight, non-comedic adventure. It has money in numbered amounts like Zak McKraken or Indy 3, even though it doesn’t really matter if you have 478 or 480 or 482 pieces. And it doesn’t matter if you buy Stan’s ship for 2000 or 5000, or how many extras you get. And it doesn’t matter whether you have the romantic scene between Guybrush and Elaine at the docks, or whether you kill Bob or not, or whether you leave Herman or your crew behind, but the fact that you can do it is embedded in the game. I authentically felt the twist when swordfighting was revealed as a dialogue series instead of an arcade sequence, because I had come from Indy 3 and Sierra’s Conquests of Camelot (and I think part of the reason that twist hit me was because swordfighting was originally going to be an arcade sequence like Indy 3). You can feel the fingerprints from Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean, from Treasure Island, from Sid Meier’s Pirates!, from On Stranger Tides, from The Princess Bride.

Drama blended with comedy is listening to Estevan talk about LeChuck in fear, or pondering the story of Herman and his Captain. Realism blended with fantasy is seeing the closeups of Guybrush and Elaine juxtaposed against bouncing from a rubber tree, or gradually realizing that the incredibly rare voodoo antiroot potion is somehow ordinary root beer.

There is an unreal quality to knowing for 30 years that it’s always night on Mêlée Island, and then learning that no, sometimes there’s a sunset. You just never saw it. (The fansites in the early '00s didn’t seem to mention it as much as the stump joke, I guess.)

And all of you know that for me, I didn’t learn Ron Gilbert’s original Secret from the plaque in MI6; I learned it from Mutiny on Monkey Island. And so, for me, that’s also in the bones of MI1.

 

Revenge
Monkey Island 2 was my favorite game for many years. Part of that is because I first played it in high school, and the melancholy hit nicely. Part of it was the soundtrack, which I still think is the strongest. Part of it was the bits of realistic art… a combination of the intro sequence (I want to visit with that group of playtesters having a picnic with mugs of drink) and the character sprites for our main cast which resembled those of MI1 (which I forever associate with realistic art akin to Indy 3 and Loom) to the extent that it took years before I realized how much of MI2’s other characters were cartoonishly drawn. I love that this is a heroic tragedy for Guybrush – I find similarities in other modern stories I enjoy like The Cave and Shovel Knight: King of Cards. And it still has a few unformed holdovers similar to MI1, such as the numbered money system (still irrelevant) and the fingerprints of things like Sid Meier’s Pirates! (e.g. expecting every pirate community to have a governor’s mansion – an expectation that disappears from new islands in MI sequels).

 
Tales

Tales has risen to third on my list because, even though it’s firmly on the cartoonish side of the MI spectrum, it tries to evoke those feelings of drama, tragedy, and fear that I had in the original games. When Chapters 3 and 4 started casually referencing the deaths of characters, I had an anxious sense of “something is wrong”. And I love that sense because it made me remember the hanged Captain from MI1. Learning that I killed Captain McGillicutty in Chapter 2, that his humorous sinking scene with the pyrite parrot had led to actual drowning? It made me reflect on whether I had killed Rum Rogers Jr. in MI2, or Efitte Lafoot in MI3. As I type this out, I'm realizing it made me reflect on Guybrush's path of destruction in the same way that MI6's mop tree and Elaine investigations was aiming for. Tales didn’t have the blend of realism and fantasy (likely no MI game will again), but it did have a blend of tragedy and comedy.

 

Curse > Return > Escape
After that, I consider the other three games to be fun Monkey Island titles. They’re enjoyable adventures, but I don’t feel the blending as strongly. The blend of realism with cartoon remains off the radar. And the blend of drama/tragedy with comedy is mixed. Yes, MI3 gives LeChuck a high body count and depicts one of his most frightening moments when he’s reborn as a demon to slaughter a crew… but I didn’t felt the threat carried toward Guybrush. Yes, MI4 explores supernatural feels in its deconstruction of insult fighting, its power and primal connection… but you have to stretch a lot to escape the realm of comedy. 

 

(WE’RE IN THE NONSPOILER FORUMS) Yes, Return to Monkey Island

 

tugs to dramatic themes of nostalgia, unfinished business, and the disappointment of learning an answer… but I'm realizing these feelings are off my radar completely. I never had nostalgia for Monkey Island because we had a steady stream of new games for years, and I constantly replay or rewatch them. I never had a sense of "unfinished business" because I've always felt the story could be treated as finished at anytime, and we kind of already knew Ron's carnival Secret (or we guessed it, close enough). And the theme of disappointment at learning answers... that's never been one of my traits. I love knowing the voodoo lady is named Corina; I have no empathy with Guybrush's disappointment at learning it.


Because the themes don't resonate with me, it's sort of just a fun Monkey Island game. My favorite parts were becoming Queen of Brrr Muda and reflecting on the nature of Terror Island.

Edited by BaronGrackle
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I am not going to rate 'em but this seems to be good place to discuss them. SOMI is parody game to me (strength of grog and role of insults in swrodfight are exaggerated,

Spoiler

damsel in distress cliche is mocked and satirized etc.)

and i have hard time to understand how anyone can see it as swashbuckling adventure and not as send up of one. 

Spoiler

Since parody is meta-genre, it would have made perfect sense if they would have put meta ending in this one.

LeChuck's Revenge added darker comedy but still made fun of looking for treasure cliche. (Classic swashbuckling stories are  done from point of view of heroic guy so despite wanting to be pirate Guybrush often ends up following footsteps of Jim Hawkins.) Like its genre (is it parody or just comedy?) its ending is ambiguous.

My main problem with Curse is that to me its links to previous games seem weak.

Spoiler

Handing Elaine cursed ring is too on nose example of screwing things up, after SOMI satirized damsel in distress cliche making Elaine literally an object (golden statue) that can be stolen is especially lame and game omits whole Voodoo Lady telling Guybrush that Big Whoop is secret to another world thing. 

Escape has more biting humor than Curse to me but is more flawed as whole. (Its plot can almost be seen as jab on Curse for  sanitizing MI series.) 

Spoiler

About monkey robot, to me it seems like answer to revelation of Curse -if Big Whoop can be carnival ride then big monkey head can as well be part of robot.

Tales heart is in good place but i think developers felt restricted by MI franchise and had to make up new mythology that isn't very convincing.

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1 hour ago, karmo said:

and i have hard time to understand how anyone can see it as swashbuckling adventure and not as send up of one. 


Well, I have heard MI1 compared to the parody film Airplane! before. I do kind of see your point, but...

 

Out of all the pirate and adventure stories that Secret pulls from ... What do The Three Trials of piracy parody? What does the circus and cannon-firing sequence parody? What do the references to past tourism parody (Meathook, Swordmaster, the Monkey Head)? Buying a ship from Stan comes from an actual used car salesman... is this an adventure/pirate trope that gets parodied? What about using a voodoo spell to reach a mystery island instead of conventionally sailing there? What about the hell caverns of faces, hands, and mushrooms, and the bad guy's ghost ship anchored in lava?

 

And using this criteria, can we call King's Quest a parody game? Defeating a dragon with a bucket of water, and all that?

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2 hours ago, BaronGrackle said:


Well, I have heard MI1 compared to the parody film Airplane! before. I do kind of see your point, but...

 

Out of all the pirate and adventure stories that Secret pulls from ... What do The Three Trials of piracy parody? What does the circus and cannon-firing sequence parody? What do the references to past tourism parody (Meathook, Swordmaster, the Monkey Head)? Buying a ship from Stan comes from an actual used car salesman... is this an adventure/pirate trope that gets parodied? What about using a voodoo spell to reach a mystery island instead of conventionally sailing there? What about the hell caverns of faces, hands, and mushrooms, and the bad guy's ghost ship anchored in lava?

 

And using this criteria, can we call King's Quest a parody game? Defeating a dragon with a bucket of water, and all that?

I have feeling we both write in adventuregamers.com forum and do it under different usernames than we use here.

Anyway, wannabe pirate going to trials etc. is subversion of stereotype of pirate like afro-american sheriff in Blazing Saddles is subversion of stereotype of sheriff in westerns. Circus that pirates visit subverts pirates as tough people stereotype. Monetizing pirate theme is satire on very same thing that inspired this games, Disney parks. (Meathook having hooks for both hands and way he lost them is itself another joke this time about stereotypical pirate handicaps. Jokes about those handicaps keep popping up in future games, both Ron's and other designers').  

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1 hour ago, karmo said:

I have feeling we both write in adventuregamers.com forum and do it under different usernames than we use here.


I actually just post here, the Thimbleweed Park forums, the Monkey Island subreddit, and a few comments on youtube and twitter.

 

But I do READ the adventuregamers and steam forum threads for Monkey Island, so I probably am referencing something you also read (or wrote).

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