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Return to Monkey Island 🚨GAME-WIDE🚨 Spoiler Chat


Jake
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This thread is a place to talk about the ENTIRE GAME so if you haven't played it yet, maybe stay away!

 

☠️ YE BE WARNED ☠️

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55 minutes ago, BaronGrackle said:


Fair point. But to give credit to 3-5, I'm reminded of this old mojo article from Jason: https://mixnmojo.com/features/sitefeatures/Still-Lost-in-a-Theme-Park

 

As an example? Curse itself begins like the Disneyland ride, with a slow banjo playing in a bayou, followed by our main character sailing his literal ride cart up to a ship besieging a fort town.

 


This is a reference that completely passed me by until I finally made a pilgrimage this year to Disneyland (something I've wanted to do for 24 years now) and rode the original Pirates of the Caribbean and realised how similar the banjo/bayou opening was. It's something you don't get at the Walt Disney World or Disneyland Paris versions.

9 minutes ago, Dmnkly said:

Right?!? MORE SWAG! MORE SWAG! MORE SWAG! 😄


I have a lot of Monkey Island swag already...

... and it's not enough! I want that t-shirt!

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23 minutes ago, Mintopia said:


This is a reference that completely passed me by until I finally made a pilgrimage this year to Disneyland (something I've wanted to do for 24 years now) and rode the original Pirates of the Caribbean and realised how similar the banjo/bayou opening was. It's something you don't get at the Walt Disney World or Disneyland Paris versions.


Yes, this is similar to my story because I've been to Disney World a few times but never to the original Disneyland! It wasn't until recently that I learned the Snow Ape at the end of Curse is the Matterhorn yeti, or that Escape uses Tiny Lafeet as its "family friendly" pirate because of Disneyland's own obsession with Jean Lafitte.


But don't believe everything you read. Right, Dee?

 

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4 hours ago, fentongames said:

ALSO... did you all read the note at the end of the scrapbook after completing the game? 

I am fairly certain hopeful that, maybe 4-5 years down the line, someone will take a crack at an MI game, extending the universe, maybe beyond our most beloved hero, and delivering a shawshbuckling adventure fit for that time.

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I just finished the game yesterday and I absolutely loved it! I think it's going to take me a looooong time to process that ending, but I have to say it left me feeling really, really satisfied... in a really ambiguous way!

 

I literally could not stop laughing when I saw the t-shirt! I just starting chuckling and couldn't stop! I think this has a lot do with my low expectation of the secret all along. I knew there would no way that the secret could live up to hype. Shit, guess I was wrong! Hahaha

 

Man.... I loved that game! Absolutely gorgeous, and I really liked how they tied in the whole series (personally, I really loved the nods to Curse, Escape and Tales). Now to go back and try to finish up some of those achievements...

 

I don't know how else to describe it, but that game was a masterpiece!

 

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1 hour ago, madmardi said:

I literally could not stop laughing when I saw the t-shirt! I just starting chuckling and couldn't stop! I think this has a lot do with my low expectation of the secret all along. I knew there would no way that the secret could live up to hype. Shit, guess I was wrong! Hahaha

When you finally learn the Secret of Monkey Island

88C79722-5229-4AE0-AF72-13FDEBAA1F17.gif

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10 hours ago, Dmnkly said:

 

 

I'm not sure if the disappointment some people experience stems from feelings of ambiguity beyond the secret, or that RtMI's big reveal is hammering home confirmation that the secret is a fairly obvious thing that's been staring us in the face the whole time. (Or from something else, I don't mean to put words in anybody's mouth.) But FWIW, I really don't think there's a lot of wiggle room around what the core of the revelation is.

 

Like I said way upthread, I get the impression that people's comfort with this ending largely comes down to whether you're comfortable with a lot of peripheral ambiguity, or if you really want everything spelled out to the letter. This definitely isn't the latter. But just because an ending is ambiguous, that doesn't mean it can't bring closure. My opinion is that yes, the game obviously and quite intentionally leaves all kinds of loose ends hanging. But when it comes to the primary themes of the story, the heart of the matter, the capital T Truth at its core, it really wraps things up quite nicely while still giving us a bunch of other stuff to play around with.

 

And speaking for myself, that's what I want from a Monkey Island game. I don't want everything spelled out. I don't want a neat package where everything is carefully explained. To me, that hazy, ambiguous half real, half fantasy isn't the thing Monkey Island is trying to work through to get to a destination. That IS the destination.

 

As the newly moved in Resident grump here who is probably the most down on the game as anyone in this thread, my issue is very much not about the secret. Or at least not directly. I, and I am sure several others had a general idea of what Ron always wanted the secret to be, let's be honest here, the hints of it being a theme park were around since early in Melee Island. So I figured that A) The Secret would be underwhelming by design and B) He would go even heavier into the theme park angle. That wasn't hard to deduce, heck I am sure if we look around predictions going back decades a T-shirt would be one of the more popular guesses.

 

Sadly my issue with Return is more in the journey itself. The more I look at it, the more I find the budget is likely bursting at the seams, the art style was likely chosen for that very reason, and I admit, it isn't one i liked at first, and it didn't much grow on me either. Even places like Melee and Monkey Island themselves seemed like shadows of their former selves. Some of that I think I could have been okay with if there was a bit more of the idea that time was moving forward, and Melee was a relic of the past, an idea the early game seemed to flirt with, but one that got dropped along with many other ideas as the game continued. 

 

But with that drop there was nothing to fill its place. Elaine came off to me as disinterested and had no real role to play in the story at all, something that hasn't happened in a Monkey Island, ever. Stan was very un-Stan like, almost subdued. LeChuck was the opposite of a threat, and the new pirate leaders vanished from the story. 

 

I can one hundred percent be on board with ambiguity, but it is VERY hard to do well. And as much as it would give me joy to say I had felt that here, I honestly did not. But it's not the ending. It really was the Journey. The puzzles were generally weak, with a couple of exceptions, very few if any came off as cheeky or clever. The new islands were bland, the story tying it all together was too. It was essentially the MI2 story all over again, but with less urgency and less interesting character. Guybrush wants a thing, LeChuck also wants the thing. That was about it. 

 

I guess what I had always considered key to a Monkey Island game was a sense of adventure, a cheeky sense of humor, clever puzzles, and over the top characters that I ended up loving or loving to hate. They tended to build up to something, often to subvert it a bit at the end, and that was ok. And here some of that was there, at times, but it never quite gelled for me. And the worst part is I feel it could have had that journey to the ending if it actually had a climax, if the new people and islands were memorable, if I had some stupid puzzle that stuck with me in its absurdity. 

 

And had it not been Monkey Island I likey wouldn't be as down on it as I am. I love this series, deeply. Have since I first played it on a 386 in the 1990s during my freshman year. Every one in the series, even Escape were some of the best of their eras as far as adventure games went. This just felt painfully average in so much. Not the acting, that was top all around, you and Murray are always a treat. And honestly that is a feel I get from other places where there are more people like me who are a bit down on the title. Yeah the ending bothers some, but I think a lot of it is the experience as a whole. The great bits can shine through at times, but so much never quite felt like it lived up to its predecessors. 

 

I still rank it above Escape, at least :D

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I have finished the game. I haven't seen all the endings and probably haven't catch the abundant details scattered around, but I think I have achieved the main goal of experiencing the game for what it is: a Gilbertian autobiographical journey that reminds us how things evolve, including our memories.

 

The one item that struck me and that I've found deeply symbolic is the chest that contains the "Secret." The story of this game functions as a giant metatext that constantly mixes fiction and reality. The treasure chest, over-embedded with large gems to the point of looking cheesy, is the perfect metaphor for how longtime Monkey Island fans transformed "The Secret", enriching it for decades so that its image far outweighed its substance.

 

Although the story emphasizes this stark difference between appearance and "reality", it is by no means an attempt to mock the way players have fed the myth. On the contrary, it should be seen as a charming way to remind players that this biographical journey does not belong to the authors alone. It is a sea voyage shared with the people who loved the games and nurtured their stories until they were revived by the original creators. In a sense, if you are a longtime fan, you helped make Return to Monkey Island what it is.

 

The distinction between what players see and what the creators feel does not stop at the cheesy image of the chest. Both Guybrush and LeChuck manage to lift it with great difficulty: the box is quite heavy. This is where the duality comes up again. The same heaviness that the players use as a proxy for value or importance, for the authors represents instead the burden they had to carry when they decided to embark on this new adventure. "The Secret", now overgrown in people's minds, was a hot potato to handle. In many interviews, both Ron and Dave recalled the serious thinking they had to do before deciding to make the game. Some of the doubts were related to fan expectations and whether the authors would be able to meet them. I think some players do not easily realize how onerous the task was: no author other than Ron Gilbert would have experienced the pressure of giving the original story a conclusion...

 

... which brings me to my final thoughts. Was it a good game for me? Well, my expectations were very high, and from a writing point of view, Return to Monkey Island managed to exceed them. I wasn't interested in knowing what exactly "The Secret" would be; I simply wanted it to be told to me by the person who created this fantasy world. I was interested in closing a circle opened 30 years ago, and I have no doubt that my quest for closure has been finally satisfied.

 

In the finale, the story touched my memories and my heart in two key moments: 1) reading the plaque at the exit of the park and in particular the text "The Original Secret" and 2) staring for an unmeasured amount of seconds at the contents of the chest. It didn't matter if it was a bit predictable: it was simple, it was consistent with the original story, and most importantly, its role in closing the loop justified for me the chest's enormous weight.

 

And now that all the rides have been turned off, I just need to buy a new super-spoilery Monkey Island T-shirt!

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47 minutes ago, bishopcruz said:

And had it not been Monkey Island I likely wouldn't be as down on it as I am. I love this series, deeply.

 

Yes, I think our criticism comes from a place of love. We adore these games and so we hold them to a higher standard. I agree that the game feels less populated than other MI games (I didn't play with the writer's cut on, maybe that will enhance it). I don't know if it's because it was made by a smaller group of people (probably not smaller than the first game), they ran out of money, or maybe it got rushed out and lacked an additional layer of polish. Something about the characterizations of Elaine, Stan and LeChuck also didn't sit right with me, as if they were being subdued in some way. I thought it would all come together in the end and be explained away by whatever the "twist" was, but instead it rings hollow on deeper examination. This was always Guybrush's story from the beginning, but we grew to love all these characters along the way. Even someone as two-dimensional as Murray (or one-dimensional when you flatten him) deserved a better send-off here. All these elements are kind of abandoned in the aftermath when it's all left up to our interpretation. It becomes a sort of Winnie the Pooh syndrome, where it's revealed that we were Christopher Robin all along (or maybe Calvin & Hobbes is the better analogy). But I don't really know anymore. Maybe when enough time has passed and the dust is settled, I can return to this series with a fresh set of eyes (after I've forgotten most of the puzzles) and enjoy it without the burden of expectation. That's my hope, anyway.

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On 9/20/2022 at 4:14 PM, JacquesSparkyTail said:

I think this is the most warm and likable Elaine’s ever been. I don’t know if i’ve ever heard them tell each other directly that they love each other before but it went a surprisingly long way to making the relationship feel legitimate. 

 

I don't know if it makes sense, but to me Elaine plays a very maternal role, in this game. While Guybrush acts like a kid who makes a mess everywhere, her reaction to his gestures is kind and she tries to put some sense of responsibility in his head, just like a parental figure who wants to educate a child.

 

Part of her behavior can be explained simply by the fact that she is a more mature character than Guybrush, in Ron's original idea of how the characters should have interacted. Among them, she is the one grounded more in reality while Guybrush can't escape from his fantasies or his memories. And who knows how real those memories actually are.

 

It is Elaine who takes care of Guybrush, not vice versa. In the final moments of the game, it's her who goes to get Guybrush from the amusement park, like a mother would do with her kid. And when he tells Guybrush that she has a map to start a new adventure together, it seemed to me that she did it mostly to comfort him and to keep this flooring inspector from sinking back into his fantasies of supposed greatness.

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50 minutes ago, LowLevel said:

And when he tells Guybrush that she has a map to start a new adventure together, it seemed to me that she did it mostly to comfort him and to keep this flooring inspector from sinking back into his fantasies of supposed greatness.

I read that a lot more positively: the thing they actually love doing together is going on adventures! The Secret is just absolutely not something they share and Elaine sees it as a self destructive fixation that Guybrush should drop. Guybrush in the early games is plagued by this quantum state of believing in himself against all the doubters, and the insane amount of insecurity that comes with it. The Secret (and his relationship with LeChuck) are framed in this game as almost regressive fixations Guybrush has — things that feel like once they enter his field of vision, they blind him from everything else he has accomplished. He finally gets away from LeChuck (for better or worse, due to his pursuit of the Secret) then finds the secret and (literally and figuratively) wakes up and looks around him and the mess he’s made, and has some clarity about what his situation is.
 

I read finding the Secret almost as bottoming out. Elaine warned him on the walk to the monkey head that maybe he was about to bottom out, and all he can really do is make mild to wild excuses for it (while never fully copping to any of her points or the larger unspoken warning/concern). But a few minutes later it hits, and I think hits hard, and the wake-up moment isn’t far behind. 
 

But the part where Elaine and Guybrush are traipsing around the world getting embroiled in absolutely weird adventures or helping people solve their very complicated problems, that seems legitimately like things they have in common and is why they work well on screen together when they do. The sort of secretly-shared “I found some awesome map!” moment plays as that to me: the secret is long in their rear view mirror and now they’re off being their best selves, doing what they love. 
 

Yes I realize this is a cynicism-free read of the wraparound frame story!
 

Anyway I feel like I’ve repeated myself in here too many times so I will stop until I have a better post. 😛

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On 9/21/2022 at 9:24 AM, Laserschwert said:

Sure, more of the Woodtick music is always great, but what did it have to do with the sea map?

 

I thought about this and my hypothesis is that they intentionally used it for the sea map because it would not have made sense to associate Woodtick's theme with any "real" place that was not... Woodtick. So a "virtual" place, like a map, was their best choice to reprise that great theme without associating it to a different island.

 

On 9/21/2022 at 9:24 AM, Koop said:

I noticed there's a few items you actually don't use? Sponge in act 1 you find?

 

I think that you can use the sponge. But you don't need to.

 

On 9/21/2022 at 9:57 AM, Marius said:

I like that in Return, nobody actually wonders what the Secret is. Right? Guybrush and LeChuck just want it. Or do I remember it wrong?

 

I don't remember in what dialogue it happens, but at one point Guybrush talks about the meaning of the secret and what it might be about. One of the lines is that the secret is about knowledge, for example.

 

But it is true that the game does not focus much on what the secret might be; it focuses mostly on the obsession that LeChuck and Guybrush have for it. It is very reminiscent of Indiana Jones, as someone else has written.

 

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7 minutes ago, LowLevel said:

 

I thought about this and my hypothesis is that they intentionally used it for the sea map because it would not have made sense to associate Woodtick's theme with any "real" place that was not... Woodtick. So a "virtual" place, like a map, was their best choice to reprise that great theme without associating it to a different island.

 

This is sort of a boring sounding answer but I think the composers probably just liked it a lot and wanted it to be in the game.
 

Even with that aside, I know it was a low point for Laserschwert but it was a huge high point for me. Woodtick has always felt like a backwater pirates paradise, and the music has always had the feeling of a sea chanty. It makes sense that you’d hear some sailor playing it when out on the sea or docked at a port. The whole vibe of the island hopping was very low key and shaggy, honestly more “cozy” than any of the other games, in a way I really liked. The Woodtick music felt right for me in those moments, more than the very epic and high adventure sailing themes from Curse would have. 
 

apologies for the small rant here. I just loved hearing that cue on the map and feel the need to defend it. 

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1 minute ago, Staple Remover said:

The more I sit and think on Return to MI, the more appreciation I have for Tales of Monkey Island (which I already really like). The Crossroads (with the automated boat ride, vignette scenes, the MI2 tunnel music) fits perfectly in with the now revealed secret. 

Dude I know. I, uh, was very happy with how things played out in Return on this front. 

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22 minutes ago, Jake said:

Woodtick has always felt like a backwater pirates paradise, and the music has always had the feeling of a sea chanty. It makes sense that you’d hear some sailor playing it when out on the sea or docked at a port. The whole vibe of the island hopping was very low key and shaggy, honestly more “cozy” than any of the other games, in a way I really liked. The Woodtick music felt right for me in those moments, more than the very epic and high adventure sailing themes from Curse would have.

 

Jesse Harlin's orchestration of the Woodtick Suite for MI2:SE is, bar none, my favorite cue from the entire series.

 

(Yes, including the main theme, LeChuck's theme and A Pirate I Was Meant to Be.)

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On 9/21/2022 at 5:26 PM, Joe monsters said:

Frankly, this is why this ending is genius. All of us can see different things through it, and there is no right or wrong answer.

 

I agree. I have looked for something in the ending that would satisfy my desire to find a darker meaning in the story. The authors have designed an ending that makes this interpretation (and many others) possible.

 

On 9/21/2022 at 8:30 PM, Dmnkly said:

How MUCH is fantasy is where things start to get subjective, I think. Bits of it? Some of it? Most of it? All of it? Hard to say. I don't know if Ron and Dave have very clear notions of where those lines are drawn, or if it's kind of fuzzy for them too.

 

That makes me think of two things:

  1. months ago, someone wondered if Ron would actually reveal the secret. One of the predictions was: "He went full-Lynchian and he doesn’t know if he did reveal it or not."
  2. the authors did it again. After thirty years we're still discussing the meaning of an ending in the same way we would discuss the color of an unheard fallen tree.

 

On 9/21/2022 at 6:20 PM, Colorfinger said:

the idea that Guybrush is a Sam Lowry / Brazil like figure responding to trauma with fantasy is also just *chef's kiss*.

 

That's the same vibe that I get from both this game and the first two games of the series. It seems to me that Guybrush is a character involved in a fantasy from which he cannot easily escape.

 

On 9/21/2022 at 9:12 PM, Colorfinger said:

by putting Guybrush into a world of flats and props, there is another meta layer to this ending. Isn't that basically what we (as players) have been doing this whole time?

 

Yes, and this might also explain what Rex said about a "flat" art style being a good choice to support the narrative: the characters are actually pieces of cardboard animated by Guybrush's imagination.

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I have been thinking a while about Guybrush-Elaine relationship too... To me, the relation between them has been weird in this game too. And the character of Elaine seemed to be a little different and lack of energy and importance. But... thinking about it... Maybe it could have an interpretantion after knowing the ending.

 

In this game (even in the first one and the second), the adventures of Guybrush are happening apart from Elaine's goals. It's like Elaine is doing adult and mature things, you know, saving the Caribbean from scurvy and using important pamphlets and such things. She seems to be doing some political actions, something very real, mature and from our era. She seems (as many of you have pointed) very disconnected from Guybrush.

 

And, in the other hand, Guybrush is fighting Dead Pirate Zombies, looking for fabulous treasures and living thousands of adventures (something less real and more from an imaginary world). So that's could be the reading of the situation between Guybrush and Elaine. Maybe, in the real world, they used to go together to the park but, later, Elaine enjoyed the experience from a more mature point of view. And maybe Guybrush was the only one that really believed his own stories and got lost inside his own imagination. And that's should be why they are never together in this game for a long time, because Guybrush is in his own world and, as reflection of the real world, Elaine is with his own things and thoughts.

 

Sorry for my English in all my posts. I'm not English native either.

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2 hours ago, Jake said:

apologies for the small rant here. I just loved hearing that cue on the map and feel the need to defend it. 

Still, rehashing it for this basically prevented them from composing a new tune instead. Just imagine had they delivered a brand new track at a similar quality, would you feel like you were robbed of a Woodtick reprise? As Dom said, it already got its most perfect arrangement with the SE.

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3 hours ago, Jake said:

Woodtick has always felt like a backwater pirates paradise, and the music has always had the feeling of a sea chanty. It makes sense that you’d hear some sailor playing it when out on the sea or docked at a port. The whole vibe of the island hopping was very low key and shaggy, honestly more “cozy” than any of the other games, in a way I really liked. The Woodtick music felt right for me in those moments, more than the very epic and high adventure sailing themes from Curse would have. 

 

Woodtick's theme is my favorite and also the one that gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it. I found it made sense to put it in the map.

 

But I realized that a variation of the Woodtick theme, as its own progression, is present in the theme of the Melee Island Museum. I thought it was a nice way to dig up the pirate memories!

 

I don't know if anyone had the same feeling as me listening the Museum Theme, but I talked about it with other friends and they said yes.

 

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3 hours ago, Laserschwert said:

Still, rehashing it for this basically prevented them from composing a new tune instead. Just imagine had they delivered a brand new track at a similar quality, would you feel like you were robbed of a Woodtick reprise? As Dom said, it already got its most perfect arrangement with the SE.

I think we just disagree here. I already said hearing that track specifically in that context was a surprisingly big high for me in the game.
 

Maybe an original track would have done the same thing, maybe it wouldn’t have - I don’t know the answer to that hypothetical - but what is actually in the game made me happy enough that it’s one of the things I used to kick off the details of Return thread 🤷‍♂️. Could something better exist? Sure maybe, probably, but since I already loved what’s there I don’t really care.
 

(My thoughts on the MI2 special edition’s Woodtick music is that it’s wonderfully done in a technical way, but is missing the warmth I experienced from the original midis, so while I appreciate and respect it, I don’t love it like some other arrangements. I wouldn’t personally call it a most perfect arrangement. Again I think we just disagree on this so it probably won’t be worth hashing out much further in this thread since 1: no minds will be changed and 2: lol it’s a conversation about the subtleties of two instances of the Woodtick themes in a return to monkey island thread 😎)

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I hear lots of people pointing out that Elaine seems more motherly in this game.

 

It makes wonder if the reason Ron didn't want Guybrush and Elaine getting married is because Elaine was always intended to be Guybrush's mother in the real world. A mother picking him up from his play time in the park.

 

But with them getting married it made it too weird and Ron decided to have it be their son coming out of the carnival renacting his dad's adventures. While his dad is working as a flooring inspector.

 

I don't know... 

 

But maybe i'm overthinking this... 

 

 

 

 

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Loved the game. A collection of random thoughts (will probably have endless more)

 

  • Boybrush's voice and personality are perfect.
  • The callbacks in the final scene (the stone coins), the huge dial-a-pirate puzzle, Lechuck and the (forget her name, Lina?) pirate recounting the entire series one line after another, made to me pretty clear that we were heading to a 'reality is caving in on itself' moment.
  • Speaking of the ending, the whole game is a fourth wall breaking exploration on the concept of nostalgia and satisfaction (while simultaneously being a fun adventure in itself) so to that level it would have been disappointing had the secret been grounded in some form of 'reality'.  Once you learn how 'the magic of movies' works, you can't unlearn it, but you can become immersed in the fantasy once more.  I remember David Lynch in a recent Zoom interview talking about 'Rear Window', one of the guests tells him that the man in the corner house playing piano is the actual original composer of the Alvin and the Chipmunks theme. Lynch laughs for a second and then he basically states 'I don't like to know things like that, as it lessens the immersion into the fantasy'
  • Speaking of Lynch, this game explores very similar concepts regarding nostalgia and 'going home' to Twin Peaks Season 3 (a show that returned 25+years after the original series ended), & Ron tweeted that he liked the new series. This was after development on the game had begun, but we know he was already a fan of Lynch/Twin Peaks, so this is a cool connection.  Spoilers for the show - the lights go out at the end.
  • 'I'm more button than man now'
  • Speaking of that dial-a-pirate puzzle,  it was the only thing in the game I couldn't figure out.  I didn't cheat but I sort of had to semi-brute force my way through.  I got the spinning down but couldn't figure the date.
  • Was worried that Elaine might no longer be with us in the scenes with Guy & Boy. I was nearly getting emotional and then she showed up at the end.  Phew.
  • Speaking of Elaine, I loved her social pursuits & her semi-distant relationship with Guybrush.  When I found the picture torn in half and then Elaine was investigating his path of destruction, I legitimately became concerned they were going to break up. It started to feel like a dark message was being brewed and that Guybrush would be made to pay for a lifetime of sins.  But nope he just leaves Wally hanging again lol.
  • Genuinely feel a replay urge to see the different lines of dialogue, which I haven't felt for a while with Monkey Island. I think Tales maybe didn't take this concept very far.
  • I'm finished speaking
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