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How Ron Gilbert Would/Wouldn't Remake Monkey Island

Writing a long post about how you’d remake Monkey Island sure is a funny way of demonstrating that “I have no plans to make another Monkey Island.” Threepwood co-parent Ron Gilbert’s done it anyway, and while I believe him when he says he’s currently not working on any such game, it’s hard not to tin-foil-hat-read his post as essentially a public pitch to Disney now they’ve taken LucasArts down to the bottom of the garden. He even mentions Kickstarter, for heaven’s sakes. This is calculated. Whether anything will ever come of it is anyone’s guess – I would imagine it’s less a case of resistance at Disney, and more one of corporate wheels turning too impossibly slowly and safely to even notice this sort of thing.

Anyway, the main event: how Gilbert would tackle a Nu-Monkey, given the opportunity.
You really should comb through his full, seventeen point list of desires, but here’s a few key selections:

It’d be a” retro game that harkened back to Monkey Island 1 and 2″ and “a hardcore adventure game driven by what made that era so great. No tutorials or hint systems or pansy-assed puzzles or catering to the mass-market or modernizing.” Ooh, take that, Telltale.

He would “rebuild” LucasArt’s olden adventure engine SCUMM, he would include a full inventory, it’d be fully voice, he would include dialogue puzzles, but he’d “lose the verbs.”

It would be 2D, in what he calls “enhanced low-res.”

He’d call it Monkey Island 3a and pretend nothing after MI2 ever happened. “All the games after Monkey Island 2 don’t exist in my Monkey Island universe.”

He wouldn’t do it unless he owned the rights. Which is the point where I accept this isn’t ever going to happen no matter how much anyone desires it. Disney might have no current or even future plans for MI, but big entertainment corporations are so rarely in the business of selling off IP that could one day turn out to be useful.

Disney are rubber, our dreams are glue.

At the same time, I’m oddly uninspired by Gilbert’s pitch. It doesn’t seem at all forward looking, and sounds suspiciously like he essentially wants repetition with different gags. That’s his prerogative of course, but I no longer see much appeal in pretending the last 25 years didn’t happen and there’s nothing to aim for from the next 25. Also, the reasons MI3, MI and Telltale’s effort didn’t resonate as much as the first two MIs isn’t, I think, solely down to not having the ‘right’ puzzles or gags: I wonder if it’s because the comedy pirate point’n’click adventure gastank isn’t an infinite one, even with the ideal team behind it. Really, truly, shaking things up is the best bet for making it fresh again, making it important again, not simply a second take on something that already happened. I’d love to see Gilbert get another crack at Monkey Island, but I hope if it happens it’s done as part of a team with big, fresh ideas for Guybrush and his frenemies.

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