I have already stressed the importance of the nostalgic theme many times in today’s mass culture, which is suffering from a spiritual crisis. Hence, the return of forgotten film franchises, the revival of musical groups like the Spice Girls and the attempt to find new inspiration in classic adventures. It took Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman thirty years to turn back to their roots and head off to the Isle of Monkeys again.
Inspired by the success of the chic Thimble weed Park, Gilbert tries to find a middle ground between the classic charm of the original Monkey Island series and modern gaming standards. As a result, the classic interface has suffered, stripped of the Push, Take and Give actions, reduced the number of interaction zones and item combinations, and the puzzles themselves have become simpler and more logical. But for those who like serious mental exercises, a special mode of complicated puzzles is preserved.
The events of Return to Monkey Island take place sometime after the third part. Elaine and Guybrush have married, there’s been a change of governor on Carnage Island, and the demonic Skull Murray has had the worst moments of his life. As he tells his son about his return to Monkey Island and his search for “The Secret”, Guy brush periodically retreats into a world of his own fantasies and unexpected plot twists. The authors actively pressure a loyal audience of loyal fans by bringing back classic characters and recalling heart-warming situations. For newcomers, there’s a brief retelling of the story mode in a separate menu item, but this doesn’t help much in absorbing the creamy layer of jokes for old fans.
Gilbert made quite a dashing mockery of modern culture and elements of the genre in Thimble weed Park, against which Return to Monkey Island proved to have very little poignant social content. Apart from a toothless reference to Lucasfilm and a single awkward attempt at a social agenda joke, all other gags are built around memories of the past and poor salesman Stan. And that should please old fans, but will definitely disappoint newcomers. As will probably be the wild amount of backtracking. The storyline itself, though it tries beautifully to twist the futility of travelling in search of the Mystery and bring the ghostly pirates to the fore, seems jadedly boring. Well, the ending is just plain disappointing. How does it sing? “The play is over, the lights go out.” Same here.
The game offers several levels of difficulty, but you shouldn’t be afraid to walk the edge of the board, because you’ll have a hint book at your disposal, which, by hinting or explaining certain things outright, will help you solve even the most skillful problems. The characters, including Dominic Armato as Guybrush, have been carefully preserved.
The graphics in Return to Monkey Island have caused much controversy among fans of the series. However, replacing 2D drawings with three-dimensional, slightly angular models didn’t spoil the overall narrative, giving it a more cartoon feel. In addition, the authors did a good job with the environmental detailing and animation of the main characters. Therefore, most of the complaints about the “not so” picture can be considered untenable. It is simply a modern version of a pixelated story.