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You’ll sometimes see people bellyache about how the post-Ron Monkey Island games got the personalities of certain characters wrong. Elaine was never that lovey-dovey, they’ll say. “There was never any precedent in LeChuck’s psychological profile to suggest that he would favor slaw so much, by Jove!” We’ve all heard that at some point. “Wasn’t Wally a lot hornier in his original depiction, what with the love bomb and all?” Ten times a day, I think I get that one.

Of course, it’s all the raving delusions of the hoodwinked, because the fact is that ruining characters isn’t the province of subsequent teams – the practice goes all the way back to Monkey Island 2, at the hands of the original writers. The victim: Stan. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Prepare your innocence for departure and read our new indictment, which like all formal charges are brought with the aid of EGA screenshots. Be warned: we don’t pull punches.

The appendix of the Freelance Police folio threatened that it would be a “living document” to be updated if new material ever came to light. Though successful in nabbing most of the key team members for interviews that would inform the article, I was unable at the time to make contact with Steven Chen – a regrettable omission, as he was Lead Designer on the game.

You may be familiar with Chen from his work on Indiana Jones and Infernal Machine; his Indy bona fides were later leveraged on Staff of Kings (the cancelled, good version). In the middle there, he also had a dalliance with Double Fine where, as one of the original employees, he worked on Psychonauts for the first two of its sixty years in production.

Well, now you’re about to be more familiar: Mojo bumped into Chen by chance at a monster truck rally the other day, and, after being plied with enough candy and cheese popcorn, he agreed to dredge up his memories of working on two of the most promising games LucasArts put on the docket in its post-2000 era. Both of which were of course killed, because, you know, LucasArts. Consequently, there’s a new inclusion in the Freelance Police interview compendium here, while the article itself has been quietly nourished with the designer’s insights.

Now then, who’s left?

Special thanks to retired Mojo staffer telarium for helping us get in touch with Chen. And of course, extra special thanks to Steven himself for taking time out for us.

History tells us that it’s always a mistake to expose staffers Benny and elTee to information of any kind. Naïve to their indefatigably compulsive ways, Dave Grossman had no idea what he was unleashing when he innocently mused in 2014 about an unlisted monochrome graphics mode for Monkey Island 2.

But those familiar with the personalities involved found it all too unsurprising when this ignited a near decade-long saga that even the most confirmed of basement-dwelling obsessives would go on to call, “rather sad.” Unmoved by pleas from concerned friends to walk back from the brink, the two defiantly embarked upon an unsolicited quest to resolve this most unremarkable footnote in SCUMM esoterica that guaranteed no wider interest and could only ever end in anticlimactic frustration – all the qualities that make for a classic article, in other words.

One of the bummers that goes along with most of the old hosted sites being lost to time is that a number of them were home to valuable interviews. Where possible, we like to try to import such orphaned archival content to that greatest of rescue shelters: Mixnmojo.

Today's rescues are interviews from the late, great iMuse Island. They were all conducted by the site’s able webmaster Luc Gilbertz and come from the period of 2000-2003. Improve your education and relive historical conversations with…

  • Clint Bajakian, fresh off his work on Escape from Monkey Island.
  • Peter McConnell, talking all the things that were relevant in 2003. Hey, remember that incident when he and Michael Land started a software company?
  • Jeff Kliment, the then-manager of the LucasArts Sound Department, with a few welcome intrusions by voice director Darragh O’Farrell.
  • Daniel “Wolk” Strandberg, composer of “Zak 2,” which, unique among Zak McKracken fan sequels, didn’t actually get finished. If that’s a subject that interests you, by the way, there’s no better resource than The Zak McKracken Archive.

This might be a good time to mention that such resurrections are not Easter exclusive, and that any retired webmasters who would like Mojo to keep their legacy content alive (or even to help you relaunch your site altogether) should pick up the phone and dial 1-800-ZAARIN, or for actual results reach out via webmonkey@mixnmojo.com or Twitter.

The hits keep on coming—though this one arrived a bit late at Mojo’s newsdesk: GamesBeat has published an interview with Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman, one that has some meat on its bone. For example:

Mr. Grossman

The Monkey Wrench puzzle from LeChuck’s Revenge is notoriously unsolvable and was not a good design on several levels. Even if you are an English speaker from a location where the tool in question is commonly called a “monkey wrench,” and you realize that that’s what you need, you still have to make an astonishing predictive leap about how your actions will create that tool. Nothing in the game sets any of it up adequately. I use it to this day as my go-to example of what not to do with puzzle design, and it has influenced my thinking ever since. The player has to be able to somehow visualize what to do, and if they do give up and look at a hint, I want their response to be, “Oh, that makes sense, I should have thought of that!” rather than “How on earth was I ever supposed to think of that, you ridiculous, unfair clowns?!”

Conversely, The SCUMM Bar, everybody’s favorite website on the internet, is quasi-consistently being updated, landing-page style, with the latest ReMI factoids. Rumors (from me) suggest there might even be a few nuggets coming in later today.

Relatedly, our Adventurer newsletter already downright broke the GamesBeat news—we can’t be expected to update two sites at the same time after all. (Madness!)

Our most legendary April Fools prank, never to be topped, was the successful counterfeit of some “leaked audio” from a fabricated fifth Monkey Island game called Return to Monkey Island (ahem) back in 2002. This prank was carried out by a previous generation of the staff with exacting fastidiousness, employing the help of professional resources, toward the goal of abject cruelty.

Some of the fake dialog lines even wound up in Tales of Monkey Island, earning Mojo billions in royalties that it defiantly insisted be given to a worthy children’s hospital, after The SCUMM Bar achieves solvency.

But with the 20th anniversary of the web’s finest prank having passed, few are alive who remember it firsthand. The issue of preservation thus announces itself. Dom already did his part by filing the audio files safely away on Archive.org, ensuring its survival of extinction events. The problem is that these mp3s, impeccably produced though they are, remain estranged from their context. Sure, the old news posts they belong to technically still exist, but only as sad phantoms of brokens links and absence media.

”What is to be done about this?” is a question you shriek to the heavens with knowing urgency, given that an imposter Return to Monkey Island looms and threatens to permanently supplant the real McCoy in perpetuity’s memory.

Well, we just handle it, of course. Now settle down, and try to have more faith next time.

We don’t do much as far as editorials go here at Mojo, but once in a while, there are opinion pieces we can all get behind.

First, elTee, Mojo’s lead columnist, has written an op-ed called “Returning to Monkey Island (Again),” where he takes a look at the decades that brought us to a place few had expected us to be.

Want more? Our resident French philosopher Nicolas Deneschau asks, “Is Return to Monkey Island the first legacyquel in video games?” (Feel free to use it as citations for your college courses.)

Busy days here at the ol’ Mojo, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a load off and read “Return to Monkey Island, First Thoughts.”

The Nintendo version of Maniac Mansion is an odd duck in the best possible way, sporting loads of charm and a number of unique features. Part of its popularity is that it’s the version that many played first, but there’s more going on here, or SEGA CD The Secret of Monkey Island would be held up as some sacred cow (No offense, Dom).

A major distinction of the Nintendo version is its soundtrack. Typical of its time, the original PC version of Maniac Mansion was a relatively silent affair, with its audio consisting of little more than a title theme and the odd ambient sound effect. Wall-to-wall music wasn’t really a thing for the SCUMM games until Monkey Island 2, but it was very much the norm for Nintendo games.

So when the Maniac Mansion console port had just about wrapped up its development, the publisher, Jaleco, was wondering aloud where all the music was. Eleventh hour marching orders for a full-bodied soundtrack came down, and project lead David Warhol, something of a game composer himself, brought on three local musicians to split what ended up being a workload of twelve tracks.

To provide an in-game justification for all this music, the seven playable teenagers were given a CD player as a default inventory item, each loaded up with a genre pastiche representing his/her favorite fictional band. Serving not only the requirement for a fuller soundscape but also functioning as a kind of character-building conceit, the end result is surely one of the most varied of all 8-bit soundtracks, and who better to speak about it than the composers themselves? This is where I stop typing and link you to the article.

Remember the turn of the century, when getting the SCUMM games to run properly on Windows was a herculean task? The arrival of ScummVM delivered us to conditional salvation, but many reasonably pondered why LucasArts couldn’t provide an official solution by updating the native interpreters themselves.

Well, they did. Or at least, programmer Aaron Giles did, on the studio’s behalf. The problem is that among these sparkly, XP-compatible exe’s, only a few saw the light of day -- gradually, and without much fanfare.

After quietly throwing two of them onto a Europe-exclusive compilation pack in 2002, LucasArts presumably became too busy cancelling Sam & Max sequels to continue with such re-releases despite being armed with ready-to-go updates that had been handed to them on a silver platter. A few more of Aaron’s updated SCUMM launchers made their way to Steam in 2009, which came across as LucasArts burning off the remnants of a long since suspended initiative presumably codenamed What If We Didn’t Suck.

These days, the SCUMM games are sold on digital storefronts bundled with ScummVM, and the native interpreters, original or updated, don’t get reliably circulated with the data files, which puts a heckuva lot of pressure on your rotting floppies to preserve them. We decided to reach out to Aaron Giles to get his opinions on that dilemma and gain insight on what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the surrealistic insult that is updating a studio’s library only for said studio to indifferently put that work in a drawer.

And let’s be honest: it got the dignity of the drawer only because the dumpster was already filled with Ben Throttle standees.

Our thanks to Aaron Giles for his generosity with his time.

It is the year of the lord 2022, which means Mojo will turn 25 this summer. I mean, what the hell, right? And to kick off the celebration, Mojo is gifting you the grandest gift of all: a new game. We call it… Mojole.

This never-been-seen-before concept is simple: You get six tries to guess a five-letter word. That’s it. Each word is in one way or other related to the greater LucasArts universe or Mojo itself. Some of the solutions may be somewhat eclectic, but then, who are you to judge?

And you get to share your score! (Not on Mojo, mind you, as we don’t support highfalutin emojis. :~)

Join the game that’s sweeping the world: Play Mojole!

(Disclaimer: The game is in beta, and we’re aware of any and all issues you may find. So, don’t feel the need to report bugs. The game may not work properly on smaller phones like the iPhone SE because Huz never got around to doing a final test sweep. Mojole is not feature-complete.)

Sometime back in 2004, Mojo and The SCUMM Bar banded together to create an April Fool’s Day joke for the ages: a fake Monkey Island movie trailer. Yet, close as the prank came to fruition, the plans to execute it was aborted on March 3rd, 2004. Why? I take a quick look back at this footnote in Mojo’s history.

Bonus fact: this was the last time we attempted an actual April Fool’s joke, too. You’re welcome! (Update: OK, looking back through the archives it turns out that wasn’t entirely true, but any further attempts were pretty, pretty, pretty bad.)

I’m just guessing here, but if you’re someone who reads this site at all, you probably have a high opinion of your LucasArts knowledge. You know which versions of The Secret of Monkey Island are missing the Disk 22 gag; you’re capable of following a reference Remi might make to an Amiga-exclusive background prop in Woodtick; you compulsively offer to sell your first dates fine leather jackets as a secret handshake to weed out the rejects; you’d recognize a panel from the Defenders of Dynatron City comic; you could spot Jenny Sward dialog in Loom amidst Orson Scott Card’s lines at five hundred yards.

You’ve maintained the fan sites, solved the Three Paths, witnessed the death of Cobb, memorized the code wheel combos, chose DOSBox over ScummVM, made a fool of yourself in front of Dom on IRC in 1999…You know everything there is to know, dadgummit. So if there was something exceptionally outrageous to be exposed about 1990s LucasArts adventure artisans – like, for example, that they made an objectively insane, sketch-based local television show after hours – that would hardly be news to you, now would it?

To that, Mojo paternally brays the following rejoinder: “Hold my grog.”

Discover the tale of Fiction by Louie – five episodes worth of public access mayhem that Dave Grossman, Dan Connors, and other folks you would know slapped together, aired to the unsuspecting insomniacs of Marin County in 1996-2000, and then quietly moved on from, secure in the knowledge that no one would ever discover their dirty secret decades after the crime. But they didn’t count on our crack team of Ronan Farrow-esque journalists, and today the truth becomes the public’s business.

Our sincerest thanks to Jesse Clark, Dave Grossman, Dan Connors, Mark Cartwright and John Hannon for making this article possible with their generous donation of memories and artifacts.

You are probably aware of the fact that audio titans Julian Kwasneski and Jared Emerson-Johnson operate professionally as Bay Area Sound, the decorated studio founded by Kwasneski and Clint Bajakian back in the day. You might even be aware of the Pulitzer-repelling interview we did with them over ten years ago, in which we asked well-researched questions like “What was it like working at Skywalker Ranch?” even though the Ranch wasn’t a thing since the Lucasfilm Games days.

Lately, we got to thinking about the “ten years” part with a bit of embarrassment, and anyway BA Sound is involved with both Skunkape and HappyGiant on these Sam & Max projects we find ourselves surrounded by, so Mojo felt the time was right to confront them, put them on the defensive, and demand to know why it never happened between us after that first date went so well. Also, we talk Sam & Max sound/music. Enjoy!

Remember when Mojo was fun? Well, we don’t either, but we’re not going to let that stop us from launching Fun Zone™! Here we will post small projects that may or may not be interesting, weird, and/or fun.

First out: The Thimbleweed County White Pages.

You probably do remember the phone book from Thimbleweed Park, with its voice mail greetings and all. Well, now you can browse through it and listen to/read the voice mails to your heart’s content. That’s just the type of fun services we provide here at Mojo.

Go relive a small snippet of Thimbleweed Park and you, too, can be fun!

I mean, “glory” might be a stretch, plus you’ve been able to access these podcasts through our media section for a while. However, for those who aren’t savages like Thrik, your favorite player can yet again access all our episodes as our RSS feed is back up to snuff. It might take a while for Apple, Google, etc., to catch up, but keep an eye out on your favorite podcatcher and get ready to relive 30 episodes of your favorite podcast. As a reminder, you can subscribe through:

And sure, we haven’t released any new episodes in a while, but more is to come shortly. Maybe. (But probably not.)

They've swung capably at the softballs lobbed so far by affable VR bloggers and Oprah Winfrey, but the developers at HappyGiant knew the time had come to exit the bubble and submit themselves to the hard-hitting rite of passage that is a Mixnmojo interview.

Join us as we put the Real Questions™ to CEO Mike Levine about all things Sam & Max: This Time It's Virtual which, as you know from today's skin-searing press blast, will be hitting a number of VR platforms over the next year, starting with the Oculus Quest in June.

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Double Fine has stuffed the stocking with the following holiday greeting slash Psychonauts 2 update. It offers all kinds of nuggets about the sequel while revealing that development has hit an exciting milestone: the game will be undergoing content lock as the year draws to a close and is firmly entering the polish phase. We made it!

Want more? How about IGN’s lengthy new interview with Tim?

We were all sixteen years younger the last time a Psychonauts game was this close to shipping. This occasion is not only awesome, but rare, so enjoy it! And in case we don't see ya, Happy Holidays from all of here at House of Mojo!

Comments: 1 / Source: Youtube

The reaction to William Eaken's header art for that loopy Sam & Max 2 article was predictably positive, but it has been brought to our attention that Laserschwert poster enthusiasts at large would be even merrier if they could also get a "clean" version of the art without the title and dialog bubbles.

Well, despite conflicting reports about how well behaved you've been this year, we set our elves to the task, and they've emerged from the Photoshop mines with the goods. It's almost enough to make us feel like heels about paying them in Planet Threepwood coupons.

Risk taking Mojo down and simply click here to grab the image while Remi figures out how much cruelty will need to be inflicted on his stylesheets to add it as a second download link at the top of the feature. It's the best Festivus ever!

Thanks again to William Eaken for the brilliant art.

A lot has been written about Sam & Max: Freelance Police (2004) over the years. It would hardly seem to have gotten more relevant during that time, and many would reasonably argue that there isn’t much left to say on the subject.

We disagreed, and what’s more decided that we were the only ones qualified to prove our conviction that the history of Sam & Max 2 had not yet fully and satisfactorily been entered into public record. We accomplished this show of respect to a heady subject by - literally, according to some definitions - writing the book on it. Weep for our priorities and cozy up next to the fireplace with our indefensible digital tome, The Unabridged History of Sam & Max 2: A Mixnmojo Memoir.

The most unwieldy article Mixnmojo has ever published has been a long time coming. Hindsight tells us that the cancellation of Sam & Max 2 is the major event in The Mojo Histories™, and the theory was that the definitive account of the project’s life, death and legacy could only be written this far out and by the site that, for better or for worse, it had the most impact on.

This was a job too important to be left to the professionals, who would have left out the strikethrough humor and Dan Pettit references. Nevertheless, we did bamboozle William Eaken into crafting us professional-grade header art, and you’ll want to be downloading that (link inside) in its full-resolution glory because: my word. And in case you die of natural causes before reaching the appendix, I should point out here that all the new interviews we conducted for the article have been organized as a separate feature for convenience.

Yes, the fact that there is an appendix should raise some red flags. It took a minute to put this monstrosity together (At one point, this was meant to be a tenth anniversary article, then we punted to the fifteenth anniversary before giving up on a pretty number altogether), and at the outset no one could have predicted it would ultimately clock in at this biblical word count, but the important thing is that Mojo’s equivalent of The Aeneid is now here and available for your consumption. And unlike that hack Virgil, we finished what we started.

Now leave us alone, would you?

Many questions have surrounded the upcoming Monkey Island bundle from Limited Run, so we decided to put our Pulitzer Prize winning* journalist, elTee, on the case. In his interview with the company, you can among other things learn about the edition of Tales they have included:

I received the files for TMI last week but I haven't had the chance to verify anything yet. My gut feeling would be that I was sent the latest and greatest versions of each episode, so my assumption would be that we have the Earl Boen version.

Go read the whole thing right now, if you know what's good for you!

* Unconfirmed.

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