Return to Monkey Island Coming Later This Year

One of the original creators of the classic Monkey Island series of adventure games announced on Monday morning that he’s making a new game in the series: Return to Monkey Island is coming later this year.

A screenshot from the Return to Monkey Island announcement trailer
Photo Credit: LucasFilm

LucasArts vet Ron Gilbert was one of the three original creators of 1990s The Secret of Monkey Island, alongside Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman. According to his verified Twitter account, Gilbert has been working on a new Monkey Island game for the last two years “in complete secrecy.”

For those who were born after its release, Monkey Island is a seminal series of adventure games from LucasArts, featuring aspiring pirate Guybrush Threepwood. Even if you’ve never heard of it, you’ve likely come by a few references to it second-hand, as Monkey Island‘s weird sense of humor did a lot to influence both later games and early Internet culture. A particular standout was how it handled sword duels, where the key to victory was to successfully come up with an appropriately insulting comeback.

Despite the series’s popularity and status as a classic, Monkey Island has been effectively dead since 2009’s Tales of Monkey Island, which licensed the series out to Telltale for an episodic adventure.

Gilbert left LucasArts in 1992, thereafter working on projects like Humongous Entertainment, the Penny Arcade adventure games On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Double Fine’s The Cave, and the crowd-funded adventure game Thimbleweed Park.

In 2016, Gilbert had requested that Disney sell him the rights to Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion in the wake of its shuttering of LucasArts. Disney subsequently rebranded LucasArts as Lucasfilm Games for licensing purposes in early 2021 and put several games from the LucasArts catalog back into circulation via storefronts like Prime Gaming.

Gilbert’s new Return to Monkey Island is a collaboration between Lucasfilm Games, Terrible Toybox, Gilbert’s all-remote indie development studio, and idiosyncratic game publisher Devolver Digital.

Notably, Gilbert is effectively pulling a John Carpenter with Return, as it specifically ignores all the Monkey Island sequels made after Gilbert left LucasArts. It’s a direct sequel to 1991’s Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge and nothing else, so events from later games like Guybrush and Elaine getting married are presumably out of Return‘s continuity.

Little else is known about the game at this point; aside from that, it’s scheduled to be out later in 2022.

Edit: Ron Gilbert has clarified via Twitter that Return is effectively a “Monkey Island 3a,” so 1997’s The Curse of Monkey Island is still in continuity. This includes an appearance by Guybrush’s talking skull buddy Murray.

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Written by Thomas Wilde

Thomas Wilde has been working off and on in the video game press for 20 years, starting as a strategy guide author before branching out to criticism and reporting. He likes survival horror, weird platformers, twitchy '90s-style shooters, and the occasional JRPG.

He has won World War II three dozen separate times. You're welcome.

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