Go back to spring of 2004 and things were looking kind of grim for Mojo at large. Sam & Max: Freelance Police canned, Psychonauts dumped by Microsoft... It was enough make some people behind Mojo abandon ship and start a site related to finger fetishes or something.
Yet here we are in 2010, and things are actually looking... Good. Possibly great even. Not only did we launch a new version of Mojo -- the first in six odd years -- but we have more games to cover than we've ever had. Telltale pukes out new stuff on different platforms pretty much every month; Double Fine, which made a habit of having games dropped by publishers, released Costume Quest and its expansion pack; Ron Gilbert released a game. I mean seriously. Ronzo? Here we thought he had retired to a private island, eating fried pork and yelling "I created Monkey Island" at random intervals. Yet DeathSpank turned out to be an excellent return to "grown-up gaming" for the man who really hadn't lead that type of project since 1992.
LucasArts, meanwhile, continued its streak of common sense by releasing Monkey Island 2: Special Edition, but alas, things quickly returned to the same ol'. The spirit of Mike Nelson haunts the corridors of a company still carefully evaluating the current market place realities, and mass-layoffs followed CEO Darrell "D-Rod" Rodriguez' departure. What does that all mean for the once great company? Seeing how Craig Derrick's "game credits" now lists Star Wars: Kinect as his next project, there is a certain 2004 breeze coming from San Francisco.
Things, luckily, are looking a bit brighter in other corners of the Bay Area. Telltale followed up its excellent Tales of Monkey Island with the best season of Sam & Max yet. The Devil's Playhouse took the Telltale Engine a great few steps forward, and was also named favorite game of the year by Mojo's readers. A string of other releases -- from the ultra atmospheric Nelson Tethers to the disappointing Poker Night at the Inventory -- was of course spiced up with the Universal announcement, which probably should keep Telltale and its fans busy for the next year.
On the more negative side, we can't help but wonder if the company is taking on more than it can chew. Releasing iPad episodes of Sam & Max and Wallace & Gromit was great, but only one episode of each? That Telltale seemingly abandoned both series and released another first episode (this time of Tales of Monkey Island) seems odd. The iPad is definitely the Cool Kid right now, the Gabez of platforms if you like, and it's great that Telltale embraces it, but come on... Do it properly, and don't be such an episode tease.
PC owners fared a good deal better with DeathSpank joining Telltale's line-up alongside Autumn Moon's Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island's US release. Had only Costume Quest followed suit, then things would be looking pretty darn perfect for those still prisoners of Redmond's clammy grip.
Regardless: 2011 is looking promising, at least. Blockbuster movies of our youth will be relived with Back to the Future and Jurassic Park, and what the hell, Ronzo is working with Double Fine? Does this mean we'll see Schafes and Ronzo together again next year? Add that we'll in all likelihood see a couple of other Double Fine games -- including Stacking -- and this could all potentially blow our minds all over the place.
Who would have thunk it would end up like this in 2004? Ex-Mojoers Jake Rodkin and Andrew Langley going from writing Sam & Max cancelation rants to creating Sam & Max games? Go figure.