Monkey Island

Kings of comedy: the flourishing art of interactive humour

Chris Schilling at

Few games are designed to make you laugh. And among those that do, laughter is often a happy accident, the inadvertent by-product of a combination of systems that provoke moments of unintentional comedy.

“People laugh at videogames constantly,” says former Irrational Games alumnus Jordan Thomas, who recently worked as creative consultant on South Park: The Stick of Truth. “But largely it’s because they’re laughing at the clumsy and often absurd intersection between the designer’s intent and their own.” Thomas insists there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but the distinction is clear: we’re laughing at games, not with them.

For comedy writer and director Graham Linehan, it’s pretty low on his list of priorities when playing a game. “For me it’s like comedy in porn,” he says. “It’s kind of beside the point.” Valve writer Erik Wolpaw, who co-scripted Portal and its sequel, admits that he once likened the idea of comedy in games to “the guy who talks between dancers at a strip club. Nobody cares what that guy says and anybody who does is probably kinda maladjusted.”


Ron Gilbert wants to make a Monkey Island game, plans to contact Disney "at some point"

Tyler Wilde at

We recently talked to adventure game luminary Ron Gilbert about Disney's acquisition of LucasArts, and how he felt about the rights to Monkey Island changing hands. He wasn't optimistic that he'd ever retrieve the series he created, saying that Disney seems like a company which "hoards IP." In an interview posted by Eurogamer today, however, Gilbert confirmed that he does plan to contact Disney. If he's lucky, they'll just read the interview and save him the phone call.


Ron Gilbert on Disney: "It should be me that owns Monkey Island"

Tyler Wilde at

Disney's recent acquisition of Lucasfilm scored it more than the Star Wars franchise: it also picked up LucasArts and its catalog of games, including Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion, landmarks of Double Fine designer Ron Gilbert's career. While discussing his current project, The Cave (and his thoughts on The Walking Dead), I asked Gilbert how he felt about his work being under Disney's control.


Lucasarts adventure game background art compilation triggers mass nostalgia

Tom Senior at

It's easy to misremember the locations and characters of the old Lucasarts adventure games. I recall wandering through the vast caverns of Atlantis, stepping over streams of molten gold to activate titanic robots. It's only when you go back and see the original art that you realise how much the artists did with so few pixels. Redditor Hovercastle has compiled 604 pieces of background art from some of the very best Lucasarts games, including Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Dig, Loom, the first two Monkey Island games and Sam and Max Hit the Road.

The whole collection can be viewed online, or downloaded. Because they're displayed at their original resolution, they seem tiny on modern monitors. Have a flick through and be prepared for a bit of a nostalgia shock. We've picked out a few favourites from Monkey Island 1 and 2, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and The Dig below.


Editorial: How to save adventure games

Richard Cobbett at

This feature originally ran in PC Gamer UK issue 225.

Adventure games suck. Sorry, but it’s true. This isn’t a lunk-headed action fan telling you this, nor a snotty RPG fan who wants to solve every problem with a sword. No. This is coming to you from a guy who considers beating every Sierra and LucasArts game ever made to be an amateur claim. If it exists, I’ve likely played it, or at least know of it. Broken Sword? Zork? The Last Express? Kingdom O’Magic? Les Manley? I’ve finished great adventures and rubbish adventures, and make no mistake, adventures are my favourite genre of all time. They’re what got me into gaming, the genre I’m most nostalgic about, and one still bursting with incredible untapped potential even today. Even so, today, they suck.

And that's something that can change. That's why I get cross. Adventure games deserve to be great once again. The catch is, they have to earn it, and almost none of them are even trying.

Deathspank Review

Phill Cameron at

Deathspank is a platform for creating jokes. It uses the framework of a Diablo-alike role-playing game to hang gags from, but that’s what you’re here for. The fact that Monkey Island developer Ron Gilbert’s name is attached to the whole thing is what’s going to make you pay attention, and because of that you expect a certain amount of humour. And it’s there, keeping you on a level of constant amusement that occasionally bubbles over into laughter.

There’s a nonsense story in there about Ancient Evil and Kidnapped Orphans that moves from Demon Mines to Enchanted Sinister Forests, and the look of the game is as much of a facade as the premise; all the buildings are just cardboard cutouts, and it looks like the sky is on a runner, but that’s part of the joke.