LeChuck Me: Monkey Island Returns

By Alec Meer on June 1st, 2009 at 5:31 pm.

Shock! Classic comedy-adventure Monkey Island is coming back – twice. First up, we’ve got a remake of the original Secret of Monkey Island, complete with new graphics and – ooh, controversial – voicework. Then, Telltale (who handled the recent, divisive Sam & Max comeback series) will work with Lucasarts on five new gamettes, to be known as Tales of Monkey Island. Blimey. Hell just froze over, pigs flew, and the pope did his business in the woods. Details and some footage below.

This is sure to be met with equal parts utter joy and utter dismay, depending on folks’ fandom/puritan balance. Clearly this is the tip of the iceberg, however – read the bit at the end of the below press release, in which Lucasarts claim to have other surprise resurrections of their olden franchises waiting in the wing. It’s like the last 15 years didn’t happen… No mention of Tim Schafer being involved, alas, but Ron Gilbert has been involved in, at the very least, a consultancy sense. To celebrate the announcement, he’s just posted a long making of piece for the original SOMI.

More details on the remake on its official site here, and on the Telltale games here.

Here’s a trailer for Telltale’s new series:

There’s also this making of docco for the remake, which features Ron Gilbert hisself, amongst other Lucasarts alumni:

Finally, a very long press release:

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif – June 1, 2009 – LucasArts today announced that the original hilarious pirate adventure is back, with two new projects underway based on the classic Monkey Island franchise. Beginning in just a few short weeks, Telltale will premiere the Tales of Monkey Island™ game series, delivering a completely new epic storyline and swashbuckling flair that will unfold across five monthly episodes on PC and WiiWare™. The Monkey Island celebration continues later in the summer when LucasArts publishes The Secret of Monkey Island™: Special Edition, a completely re-imagined version of the first game in the series that adds updated high definition graphics, a re-mastered musical score, and full voiceover to the classic adventure game originally launched in 1990. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition will be made available on Xbox LIVE® Arcade for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, and PC.

Today’s announcement represents a new partnership between LucasArts and digital entertainment pioneers Telltale who are crafting new experiences for today’s audiences with engaging stories delivered through regular monthly episodes. Tales of Monkey Island is developed by Telltale, whose team includes designers and artists who worked on all of the previous Monkey Island games. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is being developed internally by LucasArts, the company that started it all with the original Monkey Island games.

“We couldn’t be any more excited about bringing Monkey Island to today’s gamers — both in our special edition of the original classic, and through our collaboration with Telltale on the episodic series,” said LucasArts’ President Darrell Rodriguez. “We can’t wait for Guybrush Threepwood and LeChuck to return to gamers’ screens.”

About Tales of Monkey Island
Telltale’s Tales of Monkey Island brings the adventures of pirate Guybrush Threepwood into a new era with an explosive storyline that becomes deeper and more entangled during the course of the five-episode saga. While battling his nemesis, the evil pirate LeChuck, Guybrush accidentally unleashes an insidious voodoo pox that threatens to transform the buccaneers of the Caribbean into unruly pirate monsters. Players will experience the humor, romance, and swashbuckling action the Monkey Island games are famous for and unravel an insidious plot which is revealed across the course of the series. Tales of Monkey Island is set to premiere on PC and WiiWare in the coming weeks.
“The Monkey Island series set the standard for storytelling and character development in games,” said Telltale CEO Dan Connors. “The next several months should be filled with all kinds of surprises as we continue the dramatic stories of Guybrush, Elaine and LeChuck. We are happy to be working with LucasArts to make this happen.”

Telltale has posted a video preview and screenshots today at http://www.telltalegames.com/monkeyisland, and has opened up pre-orders at this site.

About The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
This summer, LucasArts will release The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition via Xbox LIVE Arcade for Xbox 360 and for PCs.
Back by popular demand, The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition faithfully re-imagines the internationally-acclaimed classic game (originally released in 1990) for original and new audiences alike. The development team at LucasArts is bringing the game into the modern era with all-new HD graphics, a re-mastered musical score, full voiceover, and an in-depth hint system has been added to help players through the game’s side-splitting puzzles. Purists will also delight in the ability to seamlessly switch between the updated HD graphics and the original’s classic look.
The game’s twisty plot leads hero, Guybrush Threepwood, on a hilarious quest throughout the fabled Monkey Island. Tales of pirate wealth attract Guybrush, who lands at the port of Mêlée with high hopes, no money and an insatiable desire to become a pirate. If the player is clever enough, Guybrush will win the confidence of Mêlée’s established pirates and soon find himself blown by the winds of fate toward Monkey Island — a storied isle whose name alone chills the bones of even the most bloodthirsty buccaneers.
More information about The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition can be found at the official website, www.MonkeyIslandSpecialEdition.com.
These efforts are just the start of LucasArts’ new mission to revitalize its deep portfolio of beloved gaming franchises. In addition to these new Monkey Island projects, LucasArts recently revealed that the classic adventure game Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (originally released in 1992) is included as an unlockable bonus in the Wii™ version of Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings, set to be released on June 9. Additional announcements are forthcoming.

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139 Comments »

  1. Ozzie says:

    Huh. This news has me stumped! What should I think about it?

    We get both a sequel and a remake of the original Monkey Island. Personally, I’m more excited about the remake!
    Why? Well, the voices actually. They sound pretty good, it’s the first time I laughed at many of the lines in the game. I always thought Monkey Island was amusing, but the voices make me laugh out loud!!

    The graphics are pretty close to the originals, but sometimes they look too slick, too…casual, perhaps?
    The lightning isn’t always the best and some parts of the scenery look badly drawn, like out of an overly bright and cutesy child’s book. And the animations…..couldn’t they have spared some more frames? Doesn’t look as fluid as it should.
    But else, not bad! And a live recording of the soundtrack, not bad either!

    About the new Telltale games. Well…..I trust Telltale, but…..how much will it be Monkey Island? Every Monkey Island sequel after the second one botched the coherency and vision a bit more. The third one messed up the relationship between Guybrush and Elaine, didn’t wrap up the ending of the second part in any satisfying way at all and changed the style of the humor. It was a great game, but a bad sequel.
    The fourth one brought more continuity errors in the mix (the back story of Herman, pfff!) and basically rehashed a lot of the old jokes. I had fun with it the first time around and atmospherically it was more true to the first part, but it further watered down the concept of Monkey Island.

    And now with the Telltale episodes? I fear that except being a story about pirates, set in the Caribbeans with a hero called Guybrush, a wife called Elaine and a villain called LeChuck there won’t be much more left of the orginal vision.

    It may just be another pirate’s tale. It may be a great game, but I doubt it will be a proper sequel. It couldn’t even be without ignoring the third and fourth part. In this regard, it can only make it worse. So why make another sequel?

    If LucasArts wants to show us that they switched to the light side, then how about they make something totally new, original, you know?

    Phew, this all sounds more negative than I actually feel. I think I shouldn’t worry about it and I really love to see a remake of the first installment! So, let’s see how it all turns out!! :-D

  2. Ozzie says:

    Oh, and what’s up with Guybrush’s hair on the LucasArts page!?!?!?

  3. Wulf says:

    The more I watch the Telltale trailer, the more I like it, for me it’s really classic Guybrush and that makes me feel so happy I get shivers. I admit, it sounds like MI2 Guybrush, but that was my favourite one of the lot anyway. The lines just exude that one’s personality, especially the carbonated beverage and seahag lines.

    I’m putting my faith in Telltale for this, because by golly it looks good. I know you’re reading this, so don’t disappoint me, Telltale! D:< After the incredible job you did with Strongbad, and seeing this trailer, I have my hopes up and I don’t want them dashed against the rocks of shilling despair.

    P.S.: Telltale, if you give us a wanted poster to vandalise any way we choose, you’ll get bonus points!

  4. M.P. says:

    I am SO with two_cents on the art style of MI3 – I read a rumour that Purcell did the concept art for the new Guybrush right before he quit, and I always imagined he was trying to torpedo them as he was jumping ship! :p

    The remake’s new art style does seem weird… might be cause it’s just a grainy Youtube vid but it’s like looking at the original characters through the bottom of a whisky tumbler: the glass refracts all sorts of nice shades of flesh-tone at you, but you can’t actually see the features on their faces! Vaguely reminds me of Kings Quest V, which was the first game I ever saw running in VGA, and you could tell the designers went all out with their fancy new 256-colour capabilities, but it was still only 320×200 so there wasn’t space for them to have various shades of skin-tone on someone’s face and still be able to draw a nose and eyes for them! :)

    Bit concerned by them saying they’re re-recording all the music… surely the original was all MIDI, so how can they “re-”record it? Or did the CD version come with recorded music? Will it be as responsive to the game as the original? Always thought the way the iMuse system changed the music to suit the gameplay was ingenious in how much it achieved out of a humble MIDI chip. The swamp scene in MI2, where you have all those rhythm tracks being gradually added as you row towards the voodoo lady still impresses me even after seeing it for 10s of thousands of times, both for how well-directed it is and by the economy of 1 guy with a Sound Blaster doing what would’ve taken a hundred times longer in terms of man-hours if you’d used real musicians (plus a guy recording them on a multitracking device that back then would’ve cost hundreds of thousands of $$$).

  5. Caiman says:

    M.P., you’re talking about General MIDI in effect which tries to be a catch-all for all the different playback devices. While the instruments themselves can sound more realistic on better devices, there’s no real way of mixing it properly so you often end up with it sounding really terrible. I usually preferred the old Adlib soundcard version for this reason.

    Nowadays the swamp scene in MI2 could be done easily with different variations on the track. The limiting factor would be space, which isn’t an issue anymore. Some games will also simply layer audio tracks together for the same effect. Of course if you’re using a live band it’ll cost a lot more.

  6. Ozzie says:

    Nah, M.P.s complain is valid, but only in the context of the second part. Monkey Island 1 didn’t use iMuse (at least not the DOS version), it had its premiere in Monkey Island 2.
    And you can’t recreate the effects easily with live recordings. Depending on the situation/location the iMuse system made it possible to change and (de)activate MIDI instruments, play different melodies, jump to another musical segments and fade it in with an interlude or change the dynamics. The swamp is a good example, an even better one is Woodtick.
    It’s really fascinating just to walk around and listen to the musical changes, to the rhythmic, melodical and instrumental variations.

    On the other hand, Monkey Island 3 had also moments where musical pieces faded subtly into each other, like the rollercoaster ride or Barbery Coast, despite its digital, non-MIDI nature.

  7. Angel Dust says:

    The remake looks pretty good but I don’t really care for Telltale’s games (the puzzles are weak and the writing variable in it’s quality) that much so I’ll probably give the new one, barring superlative reviews from a few trusted sources, a miss.

  8. Quests says:

    “Perhaps this does indicate that all fans of a game really want is the same game made over and over again.”

    im a huge fan of the 1st tho I love the 2nd more, and i couldn’t care less about the remake(which btw shows really bad animations), i want the new episodes, as they’re made by true veterans with the brainstorming help of Gilbert.

  9. toejam316 says:

    I’m so hard for the remake of Secret. Not so much the new Travellers Tales series though – No Schafer = Not the same, and I’ve honestly not enjoyed their other games that much. I do hope I’m wrong about this though, and I love them just as much as the others.

  10. Nico says:

    Finally they’ve done it! AWESOME!!!!!! :)

  11. Pemptus says:

    Jesus. That theme song always brings a nostalgic tear to my eye.

  12. ripclaw says:

    I really hope the special edition will work out, I loved the original. Also, I hope they didn’t overdo it with the music “modernisation”.
    Not sure I have high hopes for the “Tales of…”, looking at the youtube clip, what immediately put me off was the lack of facial animation of the characters. Even if their lines were funny, if that face stays more or less static with a moving mouthpiece, there’s not much comedy to be had from that.

  13. MonktonGaz says:

    I’ll definitely be having a crack at this one. But no Tim Schafer? That just makes me elicit a “wtf”.

    Now all I need to be complete is a third Tentacle game. And Kelly Brook.

  14. Ian says:

    I hope the episodes are better/funnier than what was in the trailer.

    Love Monkey Island though. <3

    “Is it a really EVIL looking doorstop?”

  15. Dracko says:

    I find a lot of the charm of the original and the way it communicates its comedy was very much part of its time, and I don’t think the over-the-top voice acting or the brighter look will do a lot to help it. Hell, from what I’ve seen, it actually all looks rather detrimental to it.

  16. Richard says:

    I read this post with great trepidation.

    I LOVE Monkey Island. I play all the old Lucas Arts back-catalogue adventures about three times a year (ScummVM on a PDA: the only thing it gets used for!)

    As to the point of remaking these games. Well, if they are done with care and respect, maybe.

    I was heart broken when LucasArts said they were not going to be publishing anymore adventures. Grim Fandango was the pinacle of sophisticated gaming in my mind (OK forget the horrible 3d keyboard movement. 3d with mouse clicks, please!)

    However the remastered MI1 looks superb. I hated the idea of a MI1 remake but this looks like it will hit the spot. I’ll buy it just for Dominic Armato.

    I haven’t played Telltales’ Sam n Max as the reviews were never very good. I kind of buried my head in the sand and pretended they didn’t exist. Not had a look at Strongbad either. May do now though.

    I’m a little skeptical about the episodic “Tales” we’ll have to see.

    But… I’m SOOOO excited…

    I’d love to see the genre injected with the quality that it deserves. Not so sure about 3d though. Grim Fandango looked amazing but nothing that couldn’t have been done in 2d, I’m sure (actually I would love to see a retro 2d remake of that!).

    What I’d really like is a return to the simple 2d interfaces and story telling at the player’s own pace. That will always be gaming heaven for me.

  17. roryok says:

    I’m very excited about the remastered version, and hoping they follow through with an Mi2 update. As for the telltale series though, I never liked Mi4 – the 3d put me off…

  18. Horza says:

    Maybe it’s just me being nostalgic but judging from the screenshots I think the original looks more “lively” (can’t come up with a better word) than the remake? Facial expressions etc.

  19. Adan Ova says:

    wow

    I have the original CD of one of the Monkey Island games…

    I think I will play it next week…

  20. jalf says:

    CD? Which MI is that?

    Also, my brother just found our old Monkey Island floppies. And as a bonus, the Brutal Football floppies were in the box too!

    About the MI remake, I’m impressed at how close they’re sticking to the original. It must be tempting to change a few puzzles and such. Glad they know better than that.

    Also, whether or not the new MI games are any good, I think the significance of this announcement is that LucasArts have stopped pretending that the IP’s don’t exist. The fact that they’re willing to at least *try* to revive these IP’s is a huge improvement over the last decade.

  21. W.Yutani says:

    Again I’m excited, but not quite sure about the art style. At the very least Guybrush had a wonderful fresh faced innocence (or more likely naivety) in his original pixelated form. They’ve tried to make him look a bit too ‘piratey’ They’ve missed the flooring inspector side of him.

  22. Bob Bobson says:

    I love the Monkey Islands (except for 4), I think they are brilliant but this doesn’t excite me. The original Monkey Island run through the ScummVM gives me everything I want from Monkey Island so I won’t be interested in a remake and more than I would a straight rerelease.

  23. Supertonic says:

    I’m having a nerdgasm. I’d even run windows for this, such is my love of Monkey Island. Trust me, the game’s in safe hands with Telltale (lots of ex lucas guys there). Sam and Max were loads of fun, strong bad was cool, can’t say I’m overly impressed by wallace and gromit but overall their record is good. I’ll be giving them my money.

  24. M.P. says:

    @Caiman: you can incorporate real recorded sounds into MIDI sequencers nowadays (although things like Logic are really multitrackers, not just sequencers) but you couldn’t back then. When you say “the old Adlib version”, do you mean in contrast to the later CD-version of the game? I only ever played the old MI1 so I don’t know what more the CD version did – did it have a recorded soundtrack played by real musicians as opposed to MIDI sounds?

    @ Ozzie: I’d forgotten about Woodtick! It really is the best example of what MIDI can achieve, and I remember thinking about how superior a method for making a properly context-sensitive VG soundtrack it is to having normal recorded music tracks when I was listening to that dude playing the MI2 theme tune on the piano (it was posted on RPS a few weeks ago). I was listening to the guy play the Woodtick theme and was half-expecting him to do the transitions from when you walked into different places, but then I realised how difficult these would be to do on a live instrument.

    It really is a shame that devs have pretty much abandoned MIDI composition in favour of huge orchestras. If Creative had half a brain it would give financial incentives to small devs to start doing that sort of thing again. MIDI chips on modern gaming soundcards aren’t that more advanced than they were back in MI days (MI2 sounds better on my Sound Blaster, but not by much) even though commercial applications of MIDI have really taken off – people these days can do with a Mac and the free bundled version of their sequencing software what 20 years ago you needed £5,000 worth of effects consoles to do. Games devs starting to use MIDI again on a big scale (not just small indie games, but the sort of AAA titles that would normally get a sweeping orchestral score) would give people an excuse to start buying high-end soundcards the way they spend on video cards (I’m sure 90% of people are happy with on-board sound even in a community like this).

    Rossignol’s EDGE article on game audio talked about some more of the cool things you can do with MIDI as opposed to static recorded tracks, but I didn’t feel he gave enough emphasis to how quickly most AAA devs dumped MIDI when CD technologies and the Playstation came about and allowed them to make “soaring symphonic scores” a back-of-the-box bullet point.

  25. Dragey says:

    I wasn’t keen on the recent Sam and Max episode style of gaming. I found it a bit too easy and didn’t waste enough of my life. I hope these Monkey Island ones live up to the extremely high standard everyone will be expecting, and dont fall where the new Sam and Max games did.

    Needless to say, despite my reserves, I dont think I have ever been so excited about anything in my entire life.

  26. Edweirdo says:

    I knew this would come back someday and I am very excited it has. I can’t wait to play it. However, I must admit, that while I loved Monkey Island and some of the other Lucas Arts games very much (Loom) it was Sierra’s Space Quest and King’s Quest that really got me into these types of games.

  27. Mike says:

    How appropriate, you fight like a cow.

  28. Guhndahb says:

    I hope Telltale can pull it off. I really like that gang and their dedication to the adventure genre, but their writing and puzzle design have never been close to the heyday of LucasArts. But that’s an awful lot to ask of any team. I’ll tolerate 3D if the writing is there.

    I haven’t played Strongbad yet but the Sam & Max chapters were okay. But I want a lot more than okay from Guybrush and co.

    @M.P.: Have you tried Virtual Canvas? It’s a software MIDI synth for PC that really blows Windows MIDI out of the water. I love playing my old DOS games through it.

    @Edweirdo: Same here. Kings Quest and Space Quest were the games that got me into the genre, and Sierra was even more important to me back in those days. But I admit the style of Lucasarts is of more interest to me these days…well unless I could have Gabriel Knight 4. :)

  29. Zkaka says:

    Wow. Just plain Wow.
    I feel like hugging someone.
    YAYAYAYAYAYAYA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Super T says:

    i have an original 3.5 floppy demo of the first game that is for sale? any offers?

  31. MrSnoobs says:

    Magnificent, although Guybrush in the episodes of monkey island looks all wrong. That chinstrap HAS to go.

    Where’s my Day of the Tentacle remake?

  32. Meat Circus says:

    Can has a Monkey Island 2 Special Edition too please thankyou.

  33. Sabre says:

    Its odd that Earl Boen is voicing LeChuck in the Secret of Monkey Island remake, but from the trailer doesn’t appear to be doing the Tales of Monkey Island voicework. Perhaps the voice in the trailer is merely a placeholder, maybe they’ve not finished recording the lines.

  34. Adrian says:

    oh my god im really looking forward to the remake but i still think its the sadest thing ever that the first new monkey island game WITH 2d graphics is actually just a remake of the first one and for the second game they again use these ugle 3d graphics that totally ruined monkey island for me

  35. Unconvinced says:

    Sounds good, but TellTale games have ruined sam and max, and chances are they’re going to do the same to monkey island by applying their overpriced episodic gaming to it.

    Their hearts are in the right place, but face it, telltale games just can’t make good adventures games. (Probably because they keep splitting them up into episodes)

  36. Willem says:

    The TellTale Sam & Max games suck, and from the looks of it, so will the Monkey Island ones.

  37. Shazbut says:

    SEQUEL TO LOOM PLEASE GOD I WILL SELL MY FIRSTBORN

  38. Grog says:

    The only decent games TTG ever produced were the StrongBad games. However, it should be noted that the Bros. Chap were heavy contributors to the writing and puzzling of that series. The Chaps KNOW adventure games. The TTG writing staff haven’t a clue.

    I have ZERO (or ONE) hopes that this version of MONKEY ISLAND will satisfy a true adventure-gamer. They have failed in almost every attempt in the past.

    If I had not pirated their games, I’d feel quite the fool right now.

  39. Dude says:

    You guys are sort of dicks, huh?