Spielosaurus, that's what my colleagues used to call me. Probably not meant as a compliment, but I didn't care. After all, I am not alone with my love for retro games and classics that I thought have been lost. As proof you only need to look at the success of the countless remakes, reboots and new editions of the last few years. This is another reason why I followed the return of Lucasfilm Games – even if only as a licensor – with a laughing and crying eye: Sure, a new Star Wars from Ubisoft sounds great! And I'm fucking curious what Machine Games and Bethesda are going to do to Indiana Jones. But when I think of Lucas Arts, I'm not only thinking of the really big film licenses, but also of the creative in-house creations that the cult forge created in the 1990s. Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango, The Dig, even the hopelessly outdated Outlaws – a box with the Lucas Arts logo was automatically given pride of place on my PC shelf. Where the golden boy was on it, there was usually something special in it.
But there was no game treasure back then that I treasured like Monkey Island.
Source: PC Games
Only the first three parts, of course. The goods fantastic. The first Monkey Island from 1990 is certainly to blame for the fact that I haven't learned anything clever to date and instead write texts like this. The box from Part 2 is still at my workplace today, with the code disk and everything. In the third part, The Curse of Monkey Island, opinions differ, not every fan liked the game. I love it by the way, I recently dedicated a huge retro video to it. But of course the first two parts, which were written by Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman, never quite reached the fame. Which now leads me to my tiny request.
Lucasfilm Games and Disney, if you're reading this: Bring Guybrush Threepwood back!
Just ask Ron Gilbert
A strange thought? I do not find! After all, there is already a good concept: none other than Ron Gilbert himself could develop a Monkey Island that ties in with the second part. Gilbert was not involved in The Curse of Monkey Island. He liked the finished game, but it was never the "real" Monkey Island 3 he had in mind. He told me that himself, by the way: A few years ago Gilbert was visiting our editorial office, he introduced me to his new point-and-click adventure Thimbleweed Park. With the Kickstarter project, Gilbert wanted to create a retro adventure in the spirit of Maniac Mansion – and later it turned out that he had succeeded in doing so, despite a few blunders. After the audition, I dragged Gilbert, who was unusually cheerful that day, into the studio for a short interview. It wasn't long before we got to talking about Monkey Island, and finally the question he had heard a thousand times before followed: could Gilbert imagine returning to Monkey Island? After all, with Thimbleweed Park he had just rediscovered his love for retro adventure games.
At the time, I expected a brief, evasive answer. A lot of developers don't like to talk about old stuff because they would much rather promote their new game. But Gilbert surprised me: He said that he would definitely like to develop a new Monkey Island. Preferably a retro adventure with a pixel look, just like back when apes had three heads and action verbs were cool. Gilbert describes his idea as follows: "Imagine opening a drawer and finding a few dusty floppy disks in it that someone had scribbled 'Ron's Monkey Island 3' on." He also explained to me that his story should tie in with the controversial ending of Monkey Island 2. What has failed so far? The trademark rights, because they are owned by Disney.
Hope for the "real" Monkey Island 3
Now a pixelated retro adventure is nothing unusual at first. Studios like Wadjet Eye Games have been earning their money with it for a long time, games like Unavowed, Technobabylon or Shardlight reliably find their fans. Thimbleweed Park also sold well and Double Fine even made crowdfunding for video games socially acceptable with its (surprisingly mediocre) Broken Age. So there must be something to it.
And the financial risk would be low. Good point-and-click adventures don't grow on trees, but they don't consume as much money as an AAA production from a huge studio. The development teams are smaller, the projects more predictable, the hurdles less than in an open-world blockbuster with ray tracing optics and a hundred hours of playtime. A Monkey Island 3 could therefore be created in a relatively small group in a reasonably realistic time frame. Of course, you would probably not make billions with a game like this, even a guybrush can't do witches. But it doesn't have to be. After all, sales aren't the only way to measure success.
So if Disney is serious about this, the Breathing new life into the Lucasfilm Games brand, don't stop at Star Wars and Indiana Jones. There are so many formats, platforms and distribution channels today that have proven countless times that you can go far with smaller budgets. Games that surprise, win back old fans – and thus strengthen trust in a Lucasfilm Games that can stand for much more than just a lightsaber and leather whip.
Source: PC Games
That's why I say, now is the time to bring Monkey Island back. And I couldn't think of a more charming way than Gilbert's concept of his own Monkey Island 3. So please, give the man a budget! If he still feels like it, of course, our conversation on the subject was a few years ago. And whether he answers the phone is questionable: Gilbert is currently busy to recreate the Colosseum in Lego. But maybe afterwards he'll feel like doing something else again. Something about pirates, for example. Just an idea.
Would you like to refresh a few memories? There is reading material for fans of Lucas Arts here.
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