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Return to Monkey Island, the proof: the return of an old friend

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Return to Monkey Island, the proof: the return of an old friend

Impossible split the name Monkey Island from the concept of nostalgia: the first two games, released more than thirty years ago, still represent today a cornerstone of writing and game design as regards the world of videogame adventures and their protagonist, Guybrush Threepwood, an example of a kind hero totally in contrast with the muscular and warmongering narrative of most of the games of those years (and perhaps even today).

That’s why returning to Melee Island after so long thanks to Return to Monkey Islandunexpected sequel written by Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossmanis one of those experiences that can make your wrists tremble, because you can’t mess around with nostalgia and sometimes the sacredness of a classic is the main enemy of those who just want to keep telling stories.

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Per fortuna Gilbert e Grossman, pur lacking the brilliant pen of Tim Schafer, I was able to tell a story that knows very well what we want but also knows that time has passed. The more familiar aspects, beyond places and characters, have to do with a feeling that mainly concerns the style, the ability of the two authors to write funny dialogues in a prose of their own. How to meet an old childhood friend: it’s still him, but it’s not him because his face is lined with wrinkles and the voice is deeper, but those idioms, those imperceptible tics that characterize it or the taste for something are still there to warm our hearts.

Exactly as the first notes of the musical theme that leave after the prologue, and suddenly it is you, little more than a child, in front of a screen, fascinated by this story of pirates that you know nothing about and that you will quote by heart for years to come, until it becomes a sort of small encrypted code between who was there and who was not. Speaking of the prologue, it really felt like a nice touch to it link to the discussed end of the first chapter and solve it in an elegant way. Instead, there will probably be many who will talk about the ending, because the conclusion of a story counts as much as the journey and maybe there something did not work as it should have.

But luckily we are not here only to tell the umpteenth nostalgia operation, because this story, which takes place after the second chapter, talks about a new adventure and it does so by offering us new faces and places, but above all it knows how to grow old with those who wrote it and does not plan to tease that nostalgia that we like so much. It is the story of those who, despite having lived a full life, do not want to leave something unspoken behind and begin to face the thought of passing time, as well as the idea that it is right to know how to pass the baton. In short, it is a story that, in addition to making us feel young, is also strictly contemporary and about which we will say nothing more, because it must be enjoyed.

And if the ability to deduce whose game is not what it used to be? Don’t worry: if the goal is to enjoy Return to Monkey Island without racking your brains too much, there are two solutions to go ahead quickly: the first is to choose the Casual mode, in which all puzzles are simplified, some basic items are effortlessly available and everything flows more or less smoothly; the other solution is a simple but effective one help system, in the form of a book that can be consulted at all times and which dispenses more and more direct advice according to needs. Sometimes, in fact, just a word will be enough to find the solution, but if that were not enough, you can ask for other advice until the real revelation of the enigma. As for the interface, the days of screens full of clickable actions and the old Scumm are over: now everything is done with two mouse clicks. The game is also fully dubbed in English, with Italian subtitles, and available for PC, Mac and Nintendo Switch.

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A particularly hot topic for Return to Monkey Island was that of the graphics: if the sound, once again entrusted to Peter McConnell, Michael Land and Clint Bajaklan, intelligently revisits the classic themes, the style of the game made those who wanted a return to pixel art and the glories of Steve Purcell’s art turn up the mouth , which Gilbert wanted to avoid in order to look for something more contemporary.

We were honestly too very skeptical about this choice (completely legitimate), but once in front of the complete work it is impossible not to appreciate the thousand details, the vibrant colors, the evocative capacity of the artistic direction of Rex Crowle. Once again: everything looks new, but at the same time familiar. Obviously you may still not like it, but unless you really find this stylistic choice unattainable, the advice is to go further and still enjoy the history. The only reservation remains on the animations, which sometimes look like those of the old Flash games and consequently make everything seem unfinished.

Often, when we return to familiar places, we are seized by a tinge of anxiety: what if our precious memories were ruined? What if we just realize the time goes by without enjoying the moment? What if we leave certain things in the past? The Return of Monkey Island is here to silence these doubts, remembering that time passes for everyone, even for video games, but that if you know how to age gracefully, you can do it without problems. And even if there is some hitch, nothing can affect the beauty, the freshness and the good sensations of this new adventure by Guybrush Threepwood, a fearsome pirate.

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