Return to Monkey Island director explains why pixel art ‘didn’t feel right’

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

In a blog post, Gilbert addressed fan criticism of Return to Monkey Island’s art style as inconsistent with the art of the first two games, to which it is a direct sequel.

But Gilbert said this sequel wouldn’t look like the first two games even if he had developed them in the early ’90s because it wasn’t about having pixel art, but instead using the latest and greatest technology.

Return to Monkey Island – First screenshots

“Monkey Island 1 and 2 weren’t pixel art games. They were games that used cutting-edge technology and art,” he said. “If I had stayed and made Monkey Island 3, it wouldn’t have looked like Monkey Island 2. We would have pushed further and Day of the Tentacle is a good example of that.”

Return to Monkey Island is written by Gilbert and Dave Grossman, two of the original game’s three writers (the third is Double Fine’s Time Schafer, who doesn’t return), and they discussed and dismissed the use of pixel art early on because “it felt “Return to Monkey Island might not be the art style you wanted or expected, 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 it [Gilbert’s 2017 pixel art game] Thimbleweed Park without calling it a “throwback game”. I didn’t want Return to Monkey Island to be just a throwback game, I wanted to push Monkey Island further because it’s interesting, fun and exciting. Monkey Island games have always done that.

“I wanted the art in Return to Monkey Island to be provocative and shocking and not what everyone expected,” 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 most hardcore fans of Monkey Island.”

Gilbert concluded, “Return to Monkey Island is an incredible roller coaster. Hop on and have fun or stomp out of the amusement park because it’s not exactly the roller coaster you wanted. I hope you jump up 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 announcing some gameplay details like the inclusion of a simple mode and a hint system, Gilbert mostly talked about the long and unexpected timeline that eventually led to the development of Return to Monkey Island.

Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelancer who occasionally thinks about tweeting @thelastdinsdale. He’ll be talking about The Witcher all day. Return to Monkey Island director explains why pixel art ‘didn’t feel right’

Fry Electronics Team

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