Thirty years after the release of The Secret of Monkey Island game, and thirteen years after the last glimpse of the infamous Threepwood’s adventures, another installment of the Monkey Island franchise is finally on the horizon.
The teaser trailer for the upcoming Return To Monkey Island was released on April 4, promising a 2022 release for the revival of this beloved gaming franchise. Picking up after the events of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, it features the same kind of sharp, fourth wall busting, irreverent humor the franchise is known for with Murray, the mouthy demon skull proclaiming that Ron Gilbert told him he would never make another Monkey Island unless…
Monkey Island gained its popularity in the early days of computer gaming as an artful parody of properties such as Treasure Island, Pirates Of The Carribean, and other well known microcosms of how piracy circa-17th and 18th centuries is perceived in the modern world. Designed as point and click puzzle adventures, the games migrated to consoles in 2001 when the fourth volume, Escape From Monkey Island was ported from PC to the PS2. This was the first edition to utilize 3D graphics, and exposed a whole new generation to the inept, grandstanding, and lovable shenanigans of the try-hard Guybrush Threepwood.
Does the name Guybrush Threepwood mean anything to you? It should, for he is the most dashing, fearsome, and gifted pirate to ever sail the treacherous Seven Seas—at least in his own mind.
Cue Murray being kicked overboard into the waters of Melee Bay by another skeleton, playing the legendary Monkey Island theme as 2022 flashes on the screen.
It is this unapologetic and rampantly joyous humor that’s made Monkey Island such a legendary gaming mainstay. Debuting in the early 90’s, the computer gaming era of MS-DOS, alongside contemporaries such as Commander Keen and Jill Of The Jungle, the point and click gameplay implemented in the first game, The Secret of Monkey Island, was unique for its time. However it was the dialogue tree it utilized that made it special, as it was one of the first adventure games to take advantage of the feature. Furthermore, creator Ron Gilbert was so frustrated with contemporary adventure titles of the time that he made it nearly impossible to kill Threepwood, the player character, which focused the gameplay more on exploration than anything else.
The game’s famous sense of humor isn’t remotely nuanced, visible in the first five lines of dialogue of the original game, and never letting up once through subsequent titles. Whether it’s Threepwood bantering with a grizzled old pirate sage, being set adrift on the open ocean in a bumper car, or penning an entry in his memoirs while being held captive during a sword fight, the hallmark of a Monkey Island game is laughs and amusement from the opening seconds…and prolific puzzles to be solved in the never-ending quest to finish off the zombie pirate LeChuck once and for all.
What do we know about Return To Monkey Island? As of yet, not much. Creator Ron Gilbert returns, obviously, to helm this revival, and voice actors such as Guybrush Threepwood himself, Dominic Armato, will be part of the new release, but as for what Threepwood and his lady love, Governor Elaine Marley, have been up to in the interim – or what they will be up to in Return To Monkey Island? Only time will tell.
Until then, gentle pirates, lay in a good supply of grog for the the adventure ahead. You never know what may lie ahead in the treacherous waters of Melee Bay!
I just hope demon skulls don’t bite.
Liz Carlie (she/her/he/him) is a regular book, TV, and film reviewer for SCIFI.radio and has previously been a guest on ‘The Event Horizon’. In addition to being an active member of the traditional fandom community, she’s also an active participant in online fan culture, pro wrestling journalism, and spreading the gospel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She resides in Southern California with her aspiring superhero dog, Junior, enjoying life one hyperfixation at a time.