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Why Ron Gilbert Is Going Back to Monkey Island

Return to Monkey Island is set for release later this year.

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Fans have waited 20 years for answers.
Disney

Imagine if Star Wars, instead of resolving the reveal that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker's father, completely ignored it. Or, at best, made a few joke references to it and went about its business as if nothing really happened. 

That would be crazy, right?

But that's sort of what happened with Monkey Island, the pirate-themed, cult point-and-click adventure series created by Lucasarts. After dropping two classic video games in 1991 and 1992, Lucasarts woudn't release another Monkey Island game until 1997. And when that game was released, it completely skimmed over the cliffhangers that took place in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. Including a reveal that the game's major bad guy, The Ghost Pirate LeChuck, was actually the protagonist Guybrush Threepwood's brother.

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Fans of the original Monkey Island will recognize this place!

Disney

This happened, partly, because the game's creator, legendary game developer Ron Gilbert, left Lucasarts just a few short years after the release of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. To continue the Star Wars analogy: Imagine George Lucas, after releasing Empire Strikes Back, decided to give up on Star Wars completely, leave it in the hands of a completely different group of people and do something completely different for the next two decades.

Again, crazy.

Crazier still: In 2022, 30 years after his last Monkey Island game, Ron Gilbert announced he is making a new Monkey Island game, Return to Monkey Island. A game that will resolve the cliffhangers and provide resolutions to the events Monkey Island fans have been stewing over for the past 30 years. This is a big deal.

Return to Monkey Island is set for release towards the end of this year.

Why now? Why wait so long? Well, Gilbert has long expressed a desire to create his version of Monkey Island 3, but licensing issues made that impossible, until now. Now, thanks to a partnership between Lucasarts, Devolver Digital and Gilbert's own game studio, the dream has been revived.

"It's always been a dream of mine to make a new Monkey Island," Gilbert told CNET. "I was approached by Devolver in 2019 and everything just started to move forward and it was too hard to stop."

In the wake of Monkey Island 2, there were many other Monkey Island games. Gilbert's goal is to make a game that takes place immediately after Monkey Island 2, but not ignore the Monkey Island games that came afterwards.  A tricky task. Some entries like The Curse of Monkey Island and the episodic Tales of Monkey Island are beloved games despite the fact Gilbert wasn't involved.

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The game's art style hearkens back to the original games, but is far more vibrant and stylized.

Disney

"The ending of Monkey Island 2 had a huge cliffhanger," Gilbert explained. "I left Lucasfilm right after that and never resolved it. Future games did their best but we wanted to tackle it head on. While Return to Monkey Island does start right after Monkey 2 ends, it's not a 'sequel' to Monkey 2 either. It's going to be a fun journey. It will be an e-ticket ride."

We don't know much about Return To Monkey Island, but Gilbert previously discussed taking main character Guybrush Threepwood to hell. That may or may not happen, but at this point we don't even know what Guybrush or his sworn enemy LeChuck look like. All we've got to this point is a short trailer and a handful of screenshots. 

We've waited 30 years for this game, and these resolutions. I guess we can wait a few months more.