MonkeyThon 2009!

As if the world needed any MORE evidence of my complete dorkiness…I’m having a MonkeyThon!

Yes, folks, the final chapter of Telltale Games’ “Tales of Monkey Island” is coming out on Tuesday, and in order to prepare, I will spend the weekend replaying through ALL THE MONKEY ISLAND GAMES. (Yes, even “Escape from Monkey Island”. It may be the installment I’m least crazy about, but it’s still an official game, and despite the infuriating interface and plot holes you could fight a cow through, there’s still a lot to enjoy in it.)

So, beginning at 5:30 PM this evening, I will begin playing “The Secret of Monkey Island”. Once I finish, I will move onto “LeChuck’s Revenge”, followed by “Curse”, then “Escape”, and finally, all four currently-released chapters of “Tales”. Obviously, I won’t finish all in one night; I’ll play until I get tired, then in the morning I’ll continue where I left off, etc. I’ll play all weekend if necessary!

Given the option, I’ll be playing the hard version of each game. Furthermore, I will NOT be consulting any online hint guides or walkthroughs. In most cases, I will probably remember the puzzle solutions from my last playthroughs, but if I stumble across a puzzle I’ve forgotten (most likely in “Escape”, which I’ve played least-recently), I’ll just stare at it until I figure it out. Hence the potential taking-all-weekend.

And in case there were any lingering doubts about my insanity (or, for that matter, my inanity), I will naturally be tweeting my thoughts and observations as I play through the games, tagging each tweet #MonkeyThon09, so YOU can read just how frustrated I am when I can’t find a pirate who knows the last insult swordfighting comeback!

I encourage other Monkey Island fans to participate in the MonkeyThon! There are only three requirements:

1. All of the Monkey Island games
2. A Twitter account
3. Absolutely no life to speak of.

The good news is, according to my observations, requirements 2 and 3 often go hand-in-hand! So please, play along, and tell us what YOU love (and hate) about each game as you revisit it!

Even if you don’t own ALL the games, I still encourage you to replay the ones you do have in anticipation for the “Tales” conclusion. How ELSE are we supposed to raise our fanboy expectations to a level where they can never be satisfied?

I hope those of you who are almost as dorky as I am will enjoy joining me for MonkeyThon. I hope this weekend, we can all look toward the future, by playing LucasArts games from the past.

You like monkeys, you like Guildies, maybe you don’t like poxes so much…

<br /><a href=";vid=d492d422-9f08-481f-a6c7-e0f096cf614e" target="_new" title="Season 3 - Episode 5: Application&#39;d">Video: Season 3 &#8211; Episode 5: Application&#39;d</a>

Not a whole lot to say about this episode, except congratulations to the applicants! Also, note the two references to other web shows involving the cast–Sandeep’s Legend of Neil t-shirt, and Riley shouting “Bad Horse”, a line which was Michelle’s idea.

Also, everybody be sure to check your local FYE/Suncoast/Coconuts to see if they have the retail DVD of The Guild Seasons One and Two, which came out today! Sadly, my own local FYE did not have it, although the clerks working were fans of the show.

Speaking of Guild-related stuff you can buy, Paul Sabourin (of Paul and Storm) happened to be wearing a Guild T-shirt at the Jonathan Coulton/Paul and Storm concert at Toad’s Place in New Haven on Friday.

Okay, a slightly awkward segue, but what do you expect from me?

The concert, naturally, was fantastic. We were at a table in the very front row, and Paul serenaded our friend Grace during the second verse of “Frogger”. It was my first time actually at a concert of JoCo’s or Paul and Storm’s (if you don’t count the Whiffenpoof Centennial in January where JoCo performed three songs), although I was familiar with a lot of the traditional set through YouTube, various bootlegs, the DVD, etc. Of course, it’s all the better when you’re actually in the middle of it, seeing the technical difficulties and hearing the accompanying adlibs in person.

I noticed people videotaping (and Lizzy recorded a few of the songs), but so far the only video from the show I’ve found is the following from “I’m Your Moon” (aka the SWEETEST SONG EVER WRITTEN IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND), including a special greeting from Jonathan that was originally from famous “NewsRadio” guest star Chuck D.

After the show, I got the three performers to sign my copy of the “Best. Concert. Ever.” DVD. It was my second time meeting Coulton, but my first meeting Paul and Storm. They, like each of the countless other geek celebrities I’ve met in the last few years, were very nice guys. Paul said he liked my RiffTrax shirt, and I said I liked his Guild shirt.

The signed DVD. I particularly enjoyed Storm’s signature, half on the disc and half on the case, which is revealed when the CD is lined up correctly, like a copy protection wheel for an old computer game. He gave an extra signature completely on the case as a bonus.

Naturally, Coulton sang a lot of songs about monkeys. And a new chapter of “Tales of Monkey Island” came out today. In related news, I’m looking for an intern to write better topic transitions for me.

“Tales of Monkey Island” just keeps getting better and better. This latest chapter features the humor, story developments, and quotability we’ve come to expect. Additionally, it has fun new puzzles such as the Face Off, which is like Insult Swordfighting without the tedium (and without the quotability, but you can’t have everything), and the Tarot Cards, which is elegant in its simplicity. Plus, Murray riffs the end credits!

Sadly, I couldn’t get the chapter to work in Crossover for the Mac, so I had to pull out…*sigh*…the old Dell craptop. Desperate times, and all that. It was worth it.

All in all, it’s been a delightfully geeky couple of days. I’m going to go write a song about a fictional group of adventure game players now.

A Look Back at Monkey Island

With the new announcements from LucasArts and Telltale Games regarding (A) a special edition remake of the original “Secret of Monkey Island” and (B) a new season of adventures entitled “Tales of Monkey Island”, fans of classic adventure gaming are going nuts, with not-so-surprisingly diverse reactions.

See, fanboys of any franchise fall into a number of categories. There are the fanboys who think that everything in the franchise is of an equal standard, there are the fanboys who think that only the first (or maybe second) installment is worth anything, and there are those who fall into some sort of middle ground. In the case of “Monkey Island”, there are a number of fanboys who believe that the series ended after original creator Ron Gilbert left, and anything not written SOLELY by him is not canon. (A slightly odd stance to take, as Gilbert himself has stated that his co-writers Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer were just as responsible for the tone and humor of the original game, but I digress.) These people seem to want nothing to do with the new releases, despite the fact that both of them got Gilbert’s blessing, and “Tales” had his involvement in the brainstorming process and is being overseen by Grossman.

Personally, I could not be more excited about the new Monkey Island releases. It does my heart good to see LucasArts at least showing a little respect for its roots (more than Sierra has shown, even when they released a few Quest collections…but that’s another rant), and Telltale has an excellent track record as far as doing justice to beloved franchises goes. Does being happy about these releases instead of immediately cynical mean I lose all my geek cred?

This got me to wondering where I fit in the fanboy spectrum. I decided to look back over the classic Monkey Island collection and see how I feel about each one.


How appropriate. You update like a cow!

I could tell you about how I’m doing in California. I could tell you what it was like to shake Christopher Lloyd’s hand and touch a DeLorean. I could tell you about the very exciting internship I’m almost positive I have secured. I could tell you these things…but instead, I’m telling you about adventure gaming news.

Because, after twelve years (well, nine if you didn’t hate “Escape”), MONKEY ISLAND IS BACK.

LucasArts announced a special edition remake of the original “Secret of Monkey Island”, complete with new hand-painted graphics, voice acting (including Dominic Armato as Guybrush), rerecorded music, and the option to play in “classic” mode.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Telltale Games, protector of all that is good and holy in the universe, announced a new season of sequels entitled “Tales of Monkey Island”. Since so many of Telltale’s staff members were also classic LucasArts staff members, and they definitely did a stellar job reviving Sam and Max, this is the best possible way we could get a sequel. Armato is back for this as well, as is designer Dave Grossman and composer Michael Land. Series creator Ron Gilbert was apparently also involved in the brainstorming.

This news is all extremely exciting. It’s almost enough to make me wish I had a PC. Now, where did I put that rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle…

Lamentations about a sadly underappreciated form of geekery.

Over this past month, I’ve made a few long-overdue geek purchases. These included the second season of “The Simpsons” (two down, sixteen to go) and the complete “Clerks” animated series. Perhaps the most important one, however, was the Space Quest Collection, purchased for twenty bucks at GameStop.

Space Quest is, of course, one of Sierra’s best-known adventure game franchises, and with good reason. The games are loaded with plenty of humor, puzzles ranging from the amusingly simple to the frustratingly (but hilariously) difficult, parodies of and references to everything from Sci-Fi movies to other adventure games by Sierra (and its competitors), and, naturally, the classic high-dreaming-but-underachieving everyman hero, who unwittingly finds adventure thrust upon him time and time again. Continue reading