How Did Monkey Island 2 Leave the Story Open for Return to Monkey Island?

The announcement of the long-awaited next installment in the Monkey Island series, Return to Monkey Island, has caused a significant stir online and within adventure gaming circles. Many are, of course, delighted to hear news of a new chapter in one of the best point-and-click adventure sagas ever, especially one co-written by original scribe, Ron Gilbert. However, the upcoming release does raise a number of interesting questions.

For a start, it's unclear where this new game will fit within the established Monkey Island narrative. Return to Monkey Island is said to be set after the second game, LeChuck's Revenge, despite the fact that elements and characters from later sequels, such as Murray the sentient skull, are present in the teaser. These anachronistic narrative elements muddle its place in the series' timeline, and it's possible it will craft its own path, borrowing some elements of the established canon while disregarding others.

Monkey Island 2: Lechuck's Revenge

The biggest question in all of this is how the new game will follow up the controversial ending of LeChuck's Revenge. At the end of the game, Guybrush defeats his arch-nemesis, LeChuck, using a voodoo doll, tearing off the doll's appendages and rendering his enemy defenseless. As LeChuck lies dying, he begs our hero to come closer so that he can remove his mask and reveal his true self.

In doing so, the zombie pirate is revealed to be Chuckie, Gubrush's "creepy" older brother. The pair are then interrupted by a workman who tells the siblings that they are "not supposed to be in here." The two brothers, now appearing as pre-teen kids, exit the maintenance tunnels to reveal that they were in an amusement park all along, their scolding parents disclosing that they sent Chuckie to fetch Guybrush after he had wandered off.

However, just as the happy family make their exit, Chuckie/LeChuck turns to the camera and displays to the player a glowing red stare highlighted with crackling electricity, clearly implying that some form of dark magic lurks within the child, if he is indeed a child at all. The ending sparked controversy and debate upon release, with some fans annoyed with the thought that their swashbuckling adventures had been undermined by the potential idea that LeChuck's Revenge and its predecessor had been the mere childhood fantasies of a kid in a theme park.

Monkey Island 2: Lechuck's Revenge

The third game, The Curse of Monkey Island, pretty much disregards this ending by continuing the immersive, Caribbean-centric narrative of Guybrush's quest to defeat the evil LeChuck (now a demon) and win back his beloved Marley. The third part of the trilogy regarded the ending of LeChuck's Revenge as nothing but voodoo magic, replicating the child-in-a-theme park situation toward the end of the game.

What's also worth noting is that Gilbert did not return for the third game, and production was handed over to a pair of new directors who may have simply wished to continue the established pirate story without knowing the true intentions of the series' creator. Return to Monkey Island, however, seems poised to proceed from the events of the second title and not the third, there's no guarantee that the pirate narrative will merely continue on unabated.

It's entirely possible that the new game will have a stop-gap explanation for LeChuck's Revenge's controversial ending, bridging the interval between the events of the second and third titles. It may also simply disregard the events of Curse as non-canonical, especially as it was penned by new writers, or else offer a more satisfactory resolution as to why Guybrush and his evil brother were seen in childlike form.

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge Screenshot

It isn't clear how Return to Monkey Island will continue the series narrative, especially in light of the fact that the storyline was clearly continued in the third installment. What the ending of the second game does imply is that LeChuck is real and a genuine threat, but his relationship with Guybrush (and the pair's relationship with reality) are all very much up in the air. It is truly up to Gilbert to explain these mysteries as they were meant to unfold according to his original plans.

Explanations and theories as to the ending of LeChuck's Revenge have raged for decades, even if no one has yet provided a fool-proof or established canonical theory as to the events of the second game. With Curse of Monkey Island seemingly brushing these events aside and explaining them in the easiest fashion available, it could be left to Return to Monkey Island to finally give players the truth as to exactly who LeChuck and Guybrush are, how they are related, and if their adventures were ever real at all.

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