Deep in the Caribbean…or rather, in a series of home offices thousands of miles apart, the lead creatives behind Return to Monkey Island gathered for a virtual conversation (without the aid of point-and-click dialogue) about this long-awaited title set for release on September 19 from Lucasfilm Games, Terrible Toybox, and Devolver Digital.
Since the debut of The Secret of Monkey Island for the home computer in the Fall of 1990, these interactive stories of fantastical pirate adventures have spawned multiple sequels, including this newest entry, which is the first to involve original creator Ron Gilbert since Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge was released in 1992.
Gilbert, alongside Monkey Island veteran designer and writer Dave Grossman, have now led the creation and development of Return to Monkey Island with a core team of some two-dozen working remotely over the past few years. This includes art director Rex Crowle, noted for his design work on titles like Knights and Bikes and Tearaway. The Terrible Toybox team also worked in collaboration with Lucasfilm Games executive producer Craig Derrick, who served as the project lead for 2009’s Monkey Island Special Editions and produced Tales of Monkey Island the same year.
Over the decades, the Monkey Island games have remained some of Lucasfilm Games’ most beloved original stories. The idea came in the 1980s when Ron Gilbert imagined a new take on the point-and-click adventure game that mixed fantasy elements with the golden age of piracy. “What if you could get off the boat in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland and walk around, talk to people, and explore that world?” remembers Dave Grossman about Gilbert’s original pitch. “There’s darkness, mystery, and a bit of magic. But it’s also an inviting place where you want to go.”
Gilbert explains that one of the key ingredients to the Monkey Island games is humor. “It’s a kind of absurdist humor,” he says. “There are a lot of anachronisms in the game. Some of that comes from varying themes or historical reasons, but it’s often just because it’s fun. It’s funny to do weird little things. The hero Guybrush Threepwood is a bit of a hapless hero. He’s much more of a hero in his own brain than he actually is in the world. A lot of games with a hapless hero poke fun at them, but we try to poke fun at his view of the world instead.”