It was a long wait for all the loyal Monkey Island fans, but Return to Monkey Island managed to deliver. There were social media mutterings about the art style before launch, among other things. But the game stayed loyal to the series’ central norms, bringing the much-loved humour and point-and-click goodness back for another successful outing.
Things, especially games, don’t tend to be perfect, and Return to Monkey Island is no different. Even the most positive reviews have a ‘but’ attached. What would have made this great game even better, taking it from a fun game to being a classic in the realm of its 1990s forefathers?
Warning: There are unavoidable spoilers for Return to Monkey Island ahead; take caution.
6/6 A Return To Plunder Island
Location, location, location. A good sequel mixes up the best of the old games with new touches, but it’s always nice to include the fan favourites. While it was great to get back to Melee Island, many fans wished they could have included Plunder Island in Return to Monkey Island.
It’s home to a retirement community of former pirates; it would’ve fitted the theme perfectly. The huge local chicken population is ripe for both gags and great artwork, and who can forget classic residents such as Haggis McMutton, and Captain Blondebeard?
5/6 Fewer Trivia Cards To Collect In The Trivia Book
We get it – modern gamers like to collect digital ‘stuff’ and love to get achievements even more. We actually liked the Trivia Cards idea and had a lot of fun finding out the answers, either in-game or searching online. But 100 cards? Really? We managed to get about 20 cards into our Return to Monkey Island Trivia Book in one play-through of the game in normal mode.
We’ll be playing through it again for sure. But probably not five times. There are hard collectibles to complete, and then there are tedious ones. So, while we dig the concept, it could’ve been implemented in a less annoying way.
4/6 The UI Could Still Be Better
There were loads of improvements in Return to Monkey Island. The puzzles made sense, the hint system was a revelation, and all the icons and tooltips were a dream. Generally, the UI was great, being unobtrusive and straightforward to navigate. However, at times it was also downright frustrating.
Clicking in slightly the wrong place can lead to irritating results, which really dampens the mood. Not to mention all the funny answers when you try to combine things that didn’t go together. We missed those.
3/6 More Of Everything
Except for Trivia cards, obviously, the game could have used more. With its low price point and incredibly high production values, from the artwork to the voice-overs to the engine, we thought Return to monkey Island was pretty good value for money. However, at around 10 hours of playing time for a complete run, it definitely left us wanting more — a lot more.
Perhaps this is a shallow criticism, as even at just ten hours, it weighs in as one of the (probably) longest monkey island experiences. But hey, we love it! You can’t blame us for wanting more of the same. And who knows, we may get it. Let’s not rule out some DLC in the future.
2/6 Balancing Old And New
The developers are working with a franchise that dates back to the 1990s while still having paymasters the size of the Walt Disney Company. As such, it’s going to be hard to walk the line between recreating a fan favourite for the diehards and creating a financially successful game that also brings in new players. Some would say impossible. And so it seems.
There are loads of references for fans of the series to enjoy, but the introduction and first chapter went a little too much in that direction. We can’t imagine what a new player to the series would think when trying to wade through all the references to old games or chats with old friends you’ve never heard of.
1/6 A Proper Final Showdown With LeChuck
We liked the conclusion of Return to Monkey Island. It was quirky, unusual, and completely unexpected – which have always been phrases you’d connect with the series. However, there was no reason not to add a more satisfactory final meeting with Guybrush Threepwood’s nemesis, the undead pirate captain LeChuck, while keeping everything else as it was. Everything boils up brilliantly, as we battle our way beneath the Giant Monkey Head and work out how to beat the puzzles thrown up by LeChuck as he plans his escape.
But he’s always one step ahead – until, suddenly, he isn’t there at all. Would it have been too much to ask for one final sword fight? One last round of insults? That said, following the revelations from creator Ron Gilbert that this is “unlikely” to be the end of the series, maybe our final meeting with LeChuck is still to come.
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