Return to Monkey Island Director Explains Why Pixel Art ‘Didn’t Feel Right’

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Return to Monkey Island director Ron Gilbert says the game doesn’t feature pixel art because he didn’t want it to be considered a throwback – and has responded to those who have criticised the long-awaited sequel’s new looks.

In a blog post, Gilbert addressed fan criticism of Return to Monkey Island’s art style as it doesn’t match the art of the first two games, to which it’s a direct follow-up.

But Gilbert said this sequel wouldn’t look like the first two games even if he’d developed it in the early ’90s, because the point wasn’t to have pixel art but to instead use the latest and greatest technology.

“Monkey Island 1 and 2 weren’t pixel art games. They were games using state-of-the-art tech and art,” he said. “If I had stayed and done Monkey Island 3 it wouldn’t have looked like Monkey Island 2. We would have kept pushing forward, and Day of the Tentacle is a good example of that.”

Return to Monkey Island is being written by Gilbert and Dave Grossman, two of the three writers on the original game (the third being Double Fine’s Time Schafer, who isn’t returning) and they discussed and dismissed using pixel art early on because “it didn’t feel right”. “Return to Monkey Island may not be the art style you wanted or were expecting but it’s the art style I wanted,” Gilbert explained.

Gilbert continued: “We didn’t want to make a retro game. You can’t read an article about [Gilbert’s 2017 pixel art game] Thimbleweed Park without it being called a ‘throwback game’. I didn’t want Return to Monkey Island to be just a throwback game, I wanted to keep moving Monkey Island forward because it’s interesting, fun, and exciting. It’s what the Monkey Island games have always done.

“I wanted the art in Return to Monkey Island to be provocative, shocking, and not what everyone was expecting,” he said. “It’s ironic that the people who don’t want me to make the game I want to make are some of the hard core Monkey Island fans.”

Gilbert concluded: “Return to Monkey Island is an incredible rollercoaster. Get on and have some fun or stomp out of the amusement park because it’s not exactly the rollercoaster you wanted. I hope you’ll jump on with the rest of us.”

The sequel was announced in April and Gilbert and the team at Terrible Toybox have been drip-feeding information ahead of its release later this year.

While he’s announced some gameplay details, such as the inclusion of an easy mode and hint system, Gilbert has mostly talked about the long and unexpected timeline that eventually led to the creation of Return to Monkey Island.

Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelancer who occasionally remembers to tweet @thelastdinsdale. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.

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Author: Ryan Dinsdale

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