Saturday, June 6, 2009
Arrr! Ripe for the Plundering!
I ate, slept and breathed Lucasarts games throughout my childhood. Staying up until the early morning on school nights playing Day of the Tentacle or Full Throttle. The lack of point and click adventures is a big gaping hole in current gaming culture as far as I'm concerned (as well as the deplorable lack of space combat sims).
Monkey Island was the series that got me into those games, the first one being one of my very first computer games. So with glee I read the E3 announcement of not only Lucasarts releasing a graphically updated version of the original game, but a monthly installment series from the company responsible for the Sam & Max restart.
However the E3 trailer for Tales of Monkey Island exposes the same failing that the new Sam & Max series had: the humor. The old, irreverent, clever wit you found in these original games is gone, replaced with "wacky" phrases and lame situational humor. ("Sword of Hot Monkey Vengeance" and Threepwood's "What just happened?" after his possession, etc.) What really made these games great were the writers behind them. Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer wrote with a clever, sharp wit (any gamer who lived through that period is familiar with "You fight like a dairy farmer.") and filled their games with unique characters that were riffs on pirate story stereotypes, like the vegetarian cannibal headhunters or used galleon salesman "Stan".
I'm often against continuations of old intellectual properties both because of the careless manner in which they're often handled and because the stories told in the originals often are complete unto themselves. I don't mind seeing more games based upon Monkey Island or Sam & Max, because those games were more about the characters than a self-contained plot. However a quick slap-dash of Monkey Island graphics over a generic comedy script destroys everything that makes it Monkey Island.