Ahoy there! Longtime fans of the Monkey Island series were jubilant when the series creator, Ron Gilbert announced on April Fool’s Day that he was to be finally releasing the Return to Monkey Island later that year. This announcement had been speculated for years, especially as the series began more than three decades ago.

“My name’s Guybrush Threepwood, and I want to be a pirate!” This was our introduction to the main protagonist. He first debuted in the Secret of Monkey Island published by LucasArts and released on October 15th, 1990. The game was full of puzzles, and comedic situations as Guybrush continued to stumble around often getting himself into trouble and failing forward in his quest.

“Look behind you. A three-headed monkey!”

Monkey Island

While LucasArts was a recognizable name, thanks to its parent company LucasFilm, the company had several releases before the Secret of Monkey Island. It had a couple of IPs including Indiana Jones and Labyrinth, but it was the game Maniac Mansion (1987) that allowed the company to develop the programming it required for its unique brand of “Point and Click” adventure games. The programming was named SCUMM. An acronym for Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion.

Return to Monkey Island would be a follow-up after the events of the second game in the series, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge released in 1991. The Monkey Island series did produce an unofficial third game, The Curse of Monkey Island released in 1997 – however, Gilbert was not involved in that project and had stepped away from his series and LucasArts to focus on his own company. Gilbert used cannon from both games, incorporating elements of their storylines into Return to Monkey Island. When Gilbert announced his intentions to release the Return to Monkey Island, fans immediately began speculating which storylines would finally receive the closure they deserve – as Monkey Island 2 ended on some huge cliffhangers.

Nostalgia Remade

While the Return to Monkey Island features a dramatically different art style, the heart and soul of the classic Point and Click adventure is still very much there. Voice actor Dominic Armato, who debuted as the voice of Guybrush in the Curse of Monkey Island returns to the role once again. This time, Return to Monkey Island was developed by Terrible Toybox and published by Devolver Digital. Following the classic LucasArts tradition, players have two options of gameplay difficulty to select from: Causal or Hard mode – which is loaded with a lot more puzzles and antics for our hero.

At the height of its popularity, the Monkey Island series has always been considered a cult classic video game series by many. Embraced by its fans all around the world, both the Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge would receive special editions in the late 2000s which only helped rekindle the love for the series. Limited Run Games took it a step further and released a 30th Anniversary Anthology box remastered for the PC, packed full of all sorts of Monkey Island-related nostalgia.

In Conclusion

Return to Monkey Island is a lot of fun, it threads that fine line between nostalgia and innovation, without feeling like it’s a retro throwback game. As we resume the role of Guybrush Threepwood, doing battle once more against his arch nemesis, the evil Pirate LeChuck – who wants Monkey Island for his own sinister reasons.

For me, and of course, there is some bias in my opinion here, Return to Monkey Island hit all the right notes. It was an absolute joy to play revisiting Guybrush and his full-on don quixote ways are more prevalent than ever. The game’s humor strikes a tone for fans familiar with the originals, which includes the chemistry between Guybrush and the former governor of Melee Island, Elaine Marley. If you are new to the Monkey Island series, you do not have to play the previous games to enjoy Return to Monkey Island. However, do be aware that there are a lot of subtle inside jokes that throwback to both the Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge.

Return to Monkey Island is available on PC, Xbox Series X/S, PS5, and Nintendo Switch 

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