Guybrush Threepwood. What does that name conjure up in your mind? If you're reading this then you're probably thinking about insult sword fighting, the Ghost pirate LeChuck and a little skull named Murray. If none of that made sense, follow this link and don't come back until you've caught up to the rest of us.
Anyone who's played a SCUMM game knows about Monkey Island, or at least ought to. The classic adventure series has been sorely missed by all of us here at SG and we'd like nothing more than to tell you there's a new Monkey Island game in the works, but we can't.
The truth is we really don't know. At E3 2006 Lucasarts said they might return to the classic franchises in 2015, but who knows how solid a date that is. Honestly it seems strange that any company would plan that far ahead. Lord knows we pester every Lucasarts employee we see about an new Monkey Island game whenever we get the chance so I can imagine a few people throwing out a bullshit answer to get us off his/her back.
At PAX this year Hiro and I abused our semi-press positions to ask another poor soul about future Monkey Island projects. His answer "I can't comment on that." It's not a yes, so don't read too much into it. It isn't a no either and it was enough to keep Hiro and I talking. Could there be a secret Monkey Island team hard at work in the bowls of Lucasarts? Will we actually ever learn the real secret of Monkey Island?
The more important thing to discuss here is why not make another Monkey Island game? The recent success of games like Professor Layton (not a true SCUMM game but similar in some aspects) should show that the market still exists for adventure games. The PC crowd are still the biggest home for such games, but I believe the handheld market is perfect for a Monkey Island game. The game doesn't need any great graphical glory, it's easy to pick up and play and doesn't require intense concentration to beat.
A DS Monkey Island game would certainly get me blood pumping. It wouldn't even have to be a new game, hell, release the originals for the DS and PSP and I'll be a happy camper. The timing is right, with the release of Mega Man 9 showing that gamers are more than willing to spend money on a nostalgic experience. It sound like easy money to me, but I don't make decisions for Lucasarts. If I did, the Full Throttle and Sam and Max sequels would never have been cancelled.
If the portable market doesn't fit quite right, why not go the route of episodic content. One old Lucasarts property has already been repurposed into such a series and has been met with great success. It's a growing market, one that most developers are still a little shy about, but the potential has already shown in Sam & Max and Penny Arcade Adventures.
In the end, Lucasarts, if you're going to do something with the property, great, do it. If you aren't, sell it to someone that will use it. You did it with Sam & Max, you can do it with Monkey Island. There is no reason to keep it on a shelf for some illusory future release. The fans have been faithful and patient. Star Wars is fun and all, but we remember you for so much more. It's time for you to expand your horizons. Please, bring back Threepwood.