Weird & Amazing History of ‘Monkey Island’

Perhaps no designer in the field of point-and-click adventure games (players explore the setting and solve puzzles by interacting with on-screen elements in pre-scripted ways) is as well-respected as Ron Gilbert, whose list of credits includes. Maniac House, Zach McCracken and the Alien Mindbenders, CaveAnd Thimbleweed Park. Gilbert is best known for his creation of the SCUMM engine, which facilitated the development of many of Lucasfilm’s games entries in the genre.

Supervised the publication Maniac House In 1987, Gilbert began work on a new project in 1988. Like it Maniac House, this point-and-click game features clever cutscenes, absurd humor and devious puzzles. Originally planned as a collection of short stories, Gilbert’s epic pirate tale would eventually become a series spanning six games and four publishers over more than 30 years.

Join us on our journey as we explore mysteries and history Monkey Island.

I will tell you a secret


Gilbert began to work in earnest on what was to become Monkey Island On the series in 1989, other Lucasfilm Games employees Tim Shaffer and David Grossman (both talented in their own right). first game, The Secret of Monkey IslandReleased in 1990.

To capture the game’s style, Gilbert drew heavily from his childhood memories of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. Although the game’s archipelago setting is fictional, the overall aesthetic draws heavily from stylized versions of the 17th and 18th century Caribbean. Naturally, the influence of real history is filtered through Gilbert’s trademark sense of humor, with characters sporting outlandish accents and extravagant costumes.

Gilbert also drew from the 1987 novel In foreign wavesA historical fantasy about pirates like Blackbeard pits them against West African Vodun tradition and its descendants, particularly the insidious mystical practitioners based on Haitian Vodou. The Secret of Monkey Island And its successors are equally inclined to this popular interpretation of “voodoo,” which emphasizes hostile magic and the undead rather than the beliefs or practices of real-world voodoo believers. Interestingly, In foreign waves Later used as fourth base Pirates of the Caribbean The film of the same name reconnects Gilbert’s setting to the ride that inspired it.

The general plot of the series involves the adventures of a charmingly inept swashbuckler. Handbrush TreewoodA wise governor Elaine Marley Eventually marrying Guybrush and Threewood’s undead ultimate enemy: a voodoo-wielding pirate. LeChuck. In typical Gilbert fashion, even these names have a comically absurd origin. The lead character’s first name, Guybrush, comes from a file-naming convention used during art creation (“Guybrush” is actually the name of the file used when working on his sprite) and his last name is taken from the work of comedians. PG Wodehouse. Elaine’s name is derived from the character in the 1967 film graduate, Leechuck was part of a joke from the general manager of Lucasfilm Games that the name Chuck should appear in video games. (Actually, it appeared in several from Gilbert Crush the plant Inside Maniac House.)


It was evident from the first game Monkey Island Something was special. The combination of innovative point-and-click puzzles made the game’s rapier wit and panache an instant classic. Fans fell in love with supporting characters like Stan, a comically unscrupulous used boat salesman.

Ron Gilbert said he always envisioned the series as a trilogy, so it wasn’t a surprise before it came out. The Secret of Monkey IslandThe team had already started work on its sequel. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (1991) builds on the success of the original game, carrying forward the best elements of the original without any changes to the core structure. The only significant improvement is the option to play the game in a “light” mode, with almost all puzzles simplified or omitted entirely. In retrospect this may have been a blessing in disguise Monkey Island 2 Featuring one of the most head-scratching puzzles of the genre. Without spoiling it, this particular puzzle required a subtle, specific play on a phrase used only in American English, and several strange leaps of intuition to arrive at the required meaning. One of the main features of Monkey Island The series lacks the playthrough-ending deaths common to previous adventure games. However, since reference systems are not yet common practice, puzzles like this often prevent you from completing the game and seeing the game’s ending.

What a decision that was! Monkey Island 2The grand finale ends on an eerie cliffhanger, with rivals Guybrush and Lesak chasing each other through an underground maze, where it is revealed by Lesak that they are actually brothers. After a while, it’s revealed that they’re not in any underground maze: they’re behind the scenes at an amusement park, and they’re… kids? Although it was all suggested to be a ploy by Lechuk, the confusing result left many players confused and bewildered as they waited for the next game.

But no one expected the third game.

No man is an island


Ron Gilbert left Lucasfilm Games in 1992 to start his own company, Humungus Entertainment. After his departure, destiny Monkey Island The series was in doubt. Lucasfilm owned the rights, but Gilbert’s vision guided the series. Without his interest in the project, would Lucasfilm ever have completed the trilogy?

Indeed they will. The Curse of Monkey Island Announced in 1996 and released in 1997, five years after Gilbert’s departure. Under a new creative team led by Tim Shaffer, the third installment took advantage of technological advances by introducing CD-ROM drives to add more audio and cinematic capabilities, including cel animation and voice acting for the first time in the series’ history. . The interface has been updated, offering a context-sensitive cursor and a 3-verb “coin” rather than a traditional verb list. (This is similar to the setup used in Shaffer’s previous game, 1995 at full speed.)

With no clear way to salvage the plot from the previous installment, Team Shaffer avoided directly answering burning questions and focused on moving on to the next adventure. Although this doesn’t clarify anything for hardcore fans, The Curse of Monkey Island Successfully kept the core structure. It sold reasonably well and won several awards, showing that the series still has life.


The trilogy became a tetralogy with the release of the fourth installment in 2000. Escape from Monkey Island. This is the first entry in the series to not include any team from the first game. It broke from the series in several important ways. 3D graphics replaced the previous game’s cel animation. A second villain, Ozzy Mondrill, is introduced with the familiar face of LeChuck. Most notably, the familiar SCUMM engine that was responsible for many great games was replaced by the GrimE engine first used in the 1998s. Grim Fandango, Designed by Shaffer. This major change moved the game away from a true point and click style, with the player instead using their keyboard (or controller for those who picked up the PlayStation 2 version) to navigate and interact with the world.

Unfortunately, Escape from Monkey Island It will be Lucasfilm’s last adventure game. The company announced that it will cancel the rest of its games category. Special editions of the first two Monkey Island The games were released in 2009 and 2010 respectively, with a few classic games given a shiny new coat of paint, but it seemed like the good days were coming to an end.

The fun never ends


Granted, Lucasfilm Games no longer publishes games Monkey Island Games. That doesn’t mean they won’t work with other publishers to do so. Enter Telltale Games, a company formed in 2004 by some former employees of LucasArts after the end of the adventure game line. Telltale has slowly built a reputation as a solid publisher that can make fun games and weave unique stories into familiar intellectual properties. (This follows similar less prominent hits Homestar Runner And myths Games, they will receive significant appreciation The Walking Dead cont.)

Telltale began development in 2009, working closely with Lucasfilm Games Tales from Monkey Island. Even better, Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman were involved, with Gilbert helping with the initial planning and Grossman overseeing the team. As in the previous post, Tales from Monkey Island Featuring 3D graphics and voice acting, a redesigned control system away from the classic point-and-click design and preferred console controllers. Unlike all previous games, it follows Telltale’s standard release system and is packaged as a “season”, the equivalent of a traditional game in five separate installments released over time.

Tales from Monkey Island It was well received both critically and commercially, raising Telltale’s profile significantly. Could have ended the series there. In fact, most fans thought so.


What they didn’t (and couldn’t) know was that Ron Gilbert had one last surprise. He always thought Monkey Island The series was meant to be a trilogy, but he lost the opportunity to complete the trilogy properly when he left Lucasfilm Games. With three admirable efforts led by others in the interim, it’s not as if the streak has faltered. However, the story threads he left hanging at the end of Monkey Island 2 still need to be tied up.

When Ron Gilbert announced the creation of a new Monkey Island Sports—what else?—On April Fools’ Day 2022, fans could be forgiven for not taking him seriously. A few days later, he proved that he was no joke by releasing a trailer. Gilbert and Grossman had been developing the game in complete secrecy for two years, working remotely with a relatively small team. It is real. More than that, it has already been done.

Return to Monkey Island (2022) completes the original trilogy, picked up after the events Monkey Island 2 Without reviewing any of the subsequent topics. It also features many of the original voice actors with a new art style that evokes the picture books (a point of contention among fans who want a direct return to the look and feel of the original games). Build on engine used by Gilbert 2017 Thimbleweed Park, Return to Monkey Island Uses a “hotspot” system where players can hover over a screen element to get more information about how it can be used. Presumably the final entry, the series continues to evolve and delight fans for decades.

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