Well I’m going to break up my music reverie this week in order to discuss a series that has a massive flaw that is known in small cases, unknown to most of the world, and ignored by those who produce this series.
Tales of Monkey Island
Recently I was reading a book discussing Zelda Timeline and I realized in the process that Monkey Island has one of the most flawed worlds and timelines of any series. It’s one of my biggest annoyances to be a big fan of Monkey Island, and a known one to friends, to reach the point where I’ll hear from five different people: “Hey! Did you see the new Monkey Island re-release of Secret or the episodic series?!” I’m of course expected to be excited… which I’m largely not except for the remake, which I think the voice acting really brings life and emotion to the comedy of the game – but, this episodic series is stupid, money making, gratification of a series that can do much better.
For over ten years fans have been waiting for Monkey Island 5, and I’ve watched Fan Site after fan site shutdown as each one of them accepts that the buzz has died down and Lucas Arts is always going to make more Star Wars games – A view I haven’t see a change in yet and I don’t give a damn if they really do anyway.
The Monkey Island series has not had a new game since Monkey Island 2: Lechuck’s Revenge. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about since chronologically it goes up to 4, I’ll explain.
Ron Gilbert, great and holy creator of the Monkey Island story, was taken off the project after the second – this mainly being the case as it was about six years since Monkey Island 3 would come out anyway. And as a fan, I was intensely excited to buy Monkey Island 3: the new voice acting, semi 3D gameplay, ship battles, and updated music samples. It was all brilliant, funny, and flashy, and for the first few play throughs it was great… Until I played Monkey Island 2.
Yes I played them chronologically out of order, I went 1,3,2,4. After playing two, I realized that 3 had absolutely NOTHING to add to the story, and at the end when LeChuck traps you on the bomb cart, he tells you the story that you read out of the Library book in Monkey Island 2. Not only this, but there are several inaccuracies that I’m not going to delve into now.
Part 1: Herman
In any event, that misstep might have been OK because it was still a great game; but one insipid, insidious, bastardly, and conniving man had to put his foot into the mix: Horation Torquemada Marley… or Captain Marley A.K.A. Elaine Marley’s father, who by all plotlines should be dead. Suddenly Captain Marley was no longer sailing away from Monkey Island after LeChuck beat him to the fabled Big Whoop – when he was sunk at sea – but instead he was sailing in a race and LeChuck pushed him into a whirlpool! Not to mention Herman, yes that’s right, Horatio is actually Herman Toothrot from Monkey Island 1, who shouldn’t even be on Monkey Island in the first place! He and Bob (one of leChuck’s minions who can’t keep their head on straight [/ha]) sail to Melee Island in order to see the wedding.
Not to mention Herman already had his own plot. Herman supposedly sailed to Monkey Island with one other man, who can be found hanging on a tree in 1. Herman cooks a stew that helps them find the island, and HE (in MK1) Remembers All Of It! Herman will recall whatever you want to know when you’re on Monkey Island and it all adds up. Capt. Marley ends up on Monkey Island when he washes ashore from the wreck and suffers from amnesia from then on.
Now I know that Herman is on Dinky Island in MK2, but he becomes a zen philosopher and does not mention anything of being forced back on the island. Of course he is placed back around Monkey Island for comic relief, though it is a bit sketchy, but Herman is still not Horatio (and never will be).
Part 2: The Ultimate Insult….. to gamers everywhere
One of the biggest slaps in the face actually occurred while I was playing the game my first time through. As you play through Monkey Island 4, you learn of a terrible weapon: the Ultimate Insult. This is the greatest, most primordial weapon in the Caribbean, and this weapon is even more terrible that Lechuck! Watching the end of this game I put my foot down on the plot then and there. As far as the story goes, that’s a wrap!
Lechuck has been obliterated in body and spirit, what is left? This is exactly the slopping writing that games today get in order to tie up plot holes. If you buy into the 4 plot, then how can there even be a Monkey Island 5? Guybrush v. the giant Murderous Clam.
Monkey Island has always been Guybrush seeking Elaine and running from LeChuck, and since Guybrush will never leave Elaine, neither will LeChuck. For him to come back now would take the book-writing tenacity of Steven King. Not to mention! LeChuck is supposed to be the breaks on terrifying, evil forces and suddenly he is outranked by the ultimate insult? That’s a smack in the face to Ron Gilbert who actually thought up this once cohesive universe and to every gamer who felt some fear at LeChuck’s trumpet blowing fanfare.
Oh! I almost forgot! This ultimate insult nonsense, which turns the giant monkey skull from 1: which used to be A PASSAGE TO HELL, into A MEGAZORD FOR THE ULTIMATE INSULT. Let’s look at that again shall we? HELL or a Megazord found in the powerrangers. This is supposed to impress me? “Somehow I always thought there would be mushrooms in hell…”
So fans everywhere, play what you want and enjoy it. To those who care about chronology, I’m stopping at 2. For those who like franchises and funny writing and watching a fantastic story turned into a sitcom then you’ll most likely love this episodic series.
To Lucas Arts and Tell Tale games: You are what’s wrong with every game today. When someone says, “they don’t make games like that anymore” it’s because of you. You money-grubbing, artsy scum have forgotten the value of a good story in place of cheap laughs. If I wanted lame humor set in pirate themes I could watch Pirates of the Caribbean. Thank You for ruining the hopes of every gamer and fansite that waited for Monkey Island 5 and Ron Gilberts return and got this Sam & Max, overproduced, overhyped, episodic piece of crap.