Return to Monkey Island Review (Switch eShop) - Nintendo Life

Return to Monkey Island Review (Switch eShop) - Nintendo Life

Return to Monkey Island Review (Switch eShop) - Nintendo Life
Sep 23, 2022 5 mins, 27 secs

Return to Monkey Island?

In 1990, Ron Gilbert created the seminal point-and-click adventure The Secret of Monkey Island?

In 1991, he concluded Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge on a bombshell cliffhanger?

In 2013, Gilbert wrote, “I always envisioned the game as a trilogy” – one he could only make with “complete control over what [he] was making and the only way to do that is to own it.” In 2015 he wrote, “Monkey Island is now owned by Disney and they haven't shown any desire to sell me the IP.” The fans’ final gasp of what if.

He once tweeted, “If I ever get to make another Monkey Island, I’m going to announce it on April 1st”.

On April Fools’ Day 2022, Ron Gilbert joked, “I’ve decided to make another Monkey Island.”.

To say Return to Monkey Island is hotly anticipated doesn’t capture the mental and emotional pilgrimage of the ageing gamers who were swept away as children to the shores of Booty Island by a pair of taunting demonic eyes.

A return to the past: retrograde fan service for 40-somethings.

A return to commercial interests: watered-down Monkey Island to accommodate later sequels of dubious canonicity.

Or could it be… maybe… a return to form for the graphic adventure genre – to when you didn’t know what the point-and-click would do next, and you were enraptured by what it did.

Terrible Toybox, under the direction of Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman, has set out to deliver something new, but at the same time, the whole game is laced with musings on the question “What is the secret of Monkey Island?” – the rallying cry of giant Monkey-heads around the world.

It is made immediately clear that Return is going to lean on its history.

This politely covers every Monkey Island game, but it’s clear which ones are prioritised.

Monkey Islands 1 and 2 get a glorious multi-page retelling through painted pictures in Return’s new art style, with every buckle lovingly swashed.

The Curse of Monkey Island gets a tidy spread of high-level plot points… and there were two other games.

The most hypersensitive of Monkey Island fans will detect a somewhat selective respect for post-Gilbert works.

When Guybrush looks back at the image of Elaine frozen into a statue in The Curse of Monkey Island, his remark that LeChuck “thinks of her as furniture” could easily be directed at the writers of that third game.

It is emphasised at every opportunity that the Elaine of the first two games never needed saving by Guybrush.

For all this looking backwards at the series so far, Return to Monkey Island feels fantastically fresh.

But the greatest triumph is probably the new interface, which provides the framework for every aspect of the game to hang together in a rich player experience.

On Switch (and in addition to touchscreen support), this is with direct joystick control of Guybrush, using 'R' and 'L' to highlight interactive elements and cycle through them.

Where some modern graphic adventures have reduced all interactions to “do the thing to the thing”, Return to Monkey Island displays text to show what pressing a button will do.

Given the depth of the well of fan passion, it would have been absurd for Return to Monkey Island not to draw on it.

Given the clamouring specifically for Ron Gilbert’s follow-up to his first two games, it would have been absurd not to play to that.

Yes, people who aren’t long-time fans of the first two games will have a great time with Return to Monkey Island, but Terrible Toybox has leveraged the incredible storytelling potential of fan fervour to deliver something rare and spectacular for those in the bull’s eye of the target audience.

Maybe Return finally found a way to exist thanks to the multimedia fad of remake-as-a-genre, but if that’s the case then it’s had no influence on the game: it is crafted with total integrity and a contagious glee that sparkles over every scene!

Return to Monkey Island reaches into your heart, rips out your desire to know THE SECRET, and clenches it in front of your face.

As hard as it would be to concede that The Secret of Monkey Island™ might always have been a McGuffin, it’s agonising to contemplate that your 30-year longing for the Monkey Island 3 might be just the same.

'GIVE' 'Return to Monkey Island game' to 'gcunit'.

I wish they would bring the prior games to switch to play before this as they’re a series I missed out on but always hear about and people speaking highly of them.

@WoomyNNYes yeah I don't know..?

medium gives a smoother experience though it's not necessary for this kind of game so I set it to high!

I also don't know why this review is suggesting that they're ripping on Curse with the statue thing...

I don't like the negative way this review begins at all.

@Daggot do you not like Curse.

If you've never played the other games, pick them up on Steam or similar service first?

@WoomyNNYes Unless there's a setting to change the graphics to "not butt ugly" then I don't think it really matters..

@pilonium64 The review is for the Nintendo Switch

I don't think it has been released on tablets

So, for all the hate on Curse and Escape, I will still quote both of them at times with my brother as in jokes

"Surely we'd avoid scurvy if we all ate an orange" - Curse

@Jeff2sayshi Curse is a fantastic game and don't let anyone tell you otherwise

Yes, Escape was too much stupid (and hasmd even other issues), but Curse and Tales are great as much as the originals

@WoomyNNYes I've tweaked that line to make it explicit you should turn it to "High"

Seems weird to even have a graphic setting since every Switch is the same

Also, as someone who still uses a Monkey Island 2 mousepad, I am very very very much enjoying this game

It's been 10 years since I've binge played the Monkey Island games

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