We’ve got great news for anyone out there who is a huge fan of heartwarming adventure games, as one of the most beloved cult franchises in gaming history is back. The suitably named Return to Monkey Island, is the first instalment there’s been in the Monkey Island series for thirteen long years, and is the sixth game overall. The series debuted way back in 1990, when the unsuspecting world was first introduced to the wacky antics of wannabee pirate Guybrush Threepwood in The Secret of Monkey Island.
The gameplay consisted of point-and-click adventuring, which developers Lucasfilm Games had become famed for with its earlier titles, such as 1987’s Maniac Mansion and 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure. With The Secret of Monkey Island though, they introduced witty writing, larger than life characters, and a fictional Caribbean setting that meant you got to partake in your own cartoony pirate escapades.
To celebrate the release of the new chapter in the wonderful saga then, let’s take a closer look at which games we think are the must-plays of the series.
Monkey Island 2: Special Edition
This is the 1991 sequel to the original game, but it’s been remade with updated graphics, better sound design, including new voice-overs, and is just overall a more enticing play-through for a modern gamer. This 2010 version of the game is available for PC, and can even be found in the app store for iPhone users, meaning you get to take it with you everywhere.
The second entrance in the series managed to elevate everything that made the first such fun, as the developers obviously knew that they already had a winning formula. The writing is phenomenal, and you will be chuckling non-stop at the zany goings on. One such example is when Guybrush ends up at a ramshackle casino called The Gambler’s Club, where he has to use all his cunning skills to win a prize that allows him to continue his journey.
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The Curse of Monkey Island
The third game in the series was a PC exclusive, released in 1997, and made the most of the tech of the time, making it the first one to be released on an actual CD-ROM. This allowed The Curse of Monkey Island to tick off a load of firsts for the franchise, including featuring a full musical score, which provided a suitably piratey soundtrack, having fully animated cutscenes that beautifully wove the story together, and actual voice acting for the characters, bringing them further to life.
It was a big success, and sold well all over the globe, but it especially seemed to click with German gamers, where the game sold by the boatload. We think all those German gamers have exquisite taste, as playing through its narrative is thrilling, and definitely one of the best single-player games to play alone when bored.
Return to Monkey Island
And so we reach the latest portion of the series, 2022’s Return to Monkey Island, which has been released in mid-September. Available on PC, macOS and even the Nintendo Switch, it’s the game that Guybrush fanatics feared would never see the light of day. Yes, a lot of time might have passed, but their unwavering love for the franchise has not waned, and now they’re finally rewarded with another great game.
The franchise’s original creator, Ron Gilbert, was brilliantly brought back to lead the development, and it seems his creativity has helped breathe new life into proceedings. The art-style has been radically overthrown, throwing out all the pixel art and cel-shaded animation, that were used in the previous games. It’s been replaced by a pop-up book kind of style, which perfectly compliments the fantasy adventure tales that take place, making it a real must-play.